Hamilton, Maldonado, Vettel – Game On!

September 22, 2012 4:11 pm

A spectacular floodlit qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix was dominated by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as they went head-to-head for that all-important pole position in the colossal struggle for the 2012 world championship crown.

Singapore – nowhere quite like it

Vettel topped Friday’s practice sessions and was fastest on Saturday morning, and although he was right on the pace in the first and second qualifying shootouts he was unable to match Hamilton in the final top-ten battle, eventually being usurped by the ever-present spectre that is the entertaining and hair-raising Pastor Maldonado. However the Venezuelan was a significant gap behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mclaren. ‘The guys have done a fantastic job all week…Sebastian was incredibly fast through most of the sessions but…a great lap, I’m very happy with it.’ Lewis commented afterwards.

Mclaren have now taken pole at the last four races and a fourth straight win tomorrow would mark them out as clear title contenders after a difficult mid-summer barren spell. Championship leader Fernando Alonso suffered a largely anonymous qualifying hour and had to settle for 5th place which was the best that he could hope for given the blistering pace of his main rivals, and even a struggling Jenson Button slipped ahead of the Ferrari for 4th. Button once again struggled with front-locking as he endeavoured to unlock the performance anomalies that have plagued his association with MP4-27.

Britain’s Paul Di Resta made it three Brits in the top ten with a mightily impressive 6th place and has high hopes of repeating his storming Singapore drive of 12 months ago that netted him his best ever F1 result to date although his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was less impressed after what he saw as a team operational error left him languishing down in 11th place; particularly galling considering he had been faster than Di Resta so far this weekend.  Mercedes elected not to run in the final session and they ended the day in 9th and 10th respectively, Nico Rosberg behind Michael Schumacher. Mark Webber pipped the Lotus of Romain Grosjean to 7thplace after the French driver clipped a wall on his sole Q3 run.

A red light may have been put on Fernando Alonso’s title charge

Bruno Senna made yet another error that left him down in 17th on the grid after a brush with the wall permanently crippled his Williams car, probably not helped by the presence of impressive test-driver Valtteri Bottas in the team garage. Senna and Bottas are in the frame for a Williams drive alongside Pastor Maldonado in 2013 but two into one has never, and will never work.

Perhaps Hamilton, Maldonado and Vettel should bear that in mind when they race down to the first corner tomorrow…

Anthony French

 

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