Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on his first of two scheduled runs in the final round of qualifying . Rubens Barrichello
ended the session prematurely as he lost control of his Brawn Mercedes at turn five, ran wide and made contact with first the
tyre retaining wall and then the concrete barrier.
Hamilton had taken the provisional pole position with a best lap of 1:47.891 and was just starting his final hot lap when the red flags flew with 26 seconds remaining on the clock, forcing the remaining nine drivers to abandon their final laps.
Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg were both on faster laps and aiming for the pole but were forced to back off and return to the pits. They still start second and third respectively for Red Bull and Williams Toyota, a massive turnaround for the latter following a troubled race at Monza.
Hamilton dominated the evening practice session and went on to claim his third pole position of the season in his McLaren Mercedes, while team-mate Heikki Kovalainen starts ninth in the second MP4-24. Kovalainen’s time was almost two seconds shy of Hamilton’s best, indicating that he may have opted for a heavy fuel load. While Vettel and Rosberg may have challenged for the pole, it is not clear how much time Hamilton could have gained on his final run.
Mark Webber starts fourth in the second Red Bull, half a second shy of Vettel on this occasion. It was an especially good session for the team however with championship rivals Brawn Mercedes having their own issues and will start well behind.
Barrichello set the fifth fastest time prior to sliding wide and clouting the wall with the right hand side of his Brawn. However, the Brazilian veteran also has a five position grid penalty to take into account courtesy of his unscheduled gearbox change and therefore starts just tenth. After winning two of the last three races, a third win is looking pretty unlikely. Fernando Alonso
hustled the Renault to sixth position on the grid as he and the team chase their first podium of the season whilst putting recent events behind them.
Timo Glock put in a solid performance to qualifying the leading Toyota in seventh position ahead of the BMW Sauber duo of Nick Heidfeld
and Robert Kubica.
Kazuki Nakajima starts 11th in the second Williams ahead of championship leader Jenson Button
who made a number of small errors in his Brawn Mercedes and is clearly far from comfortable with the setup he is carrying into race day. The only silver-lining for Button is the five position penalty that his team-mate carries into the race.
The Ferrari Singapore-struggle continued with Kimi Raikkonen
qualifying 13th ahead of Sebastien Buemi in the leading Toro Rosso Ferrari. Jarno Trulli
also struggled in his Toyota, lapping six-tenths off the pace of team-mate Glock in the second round of qualifying and therefore starts just 15th.
After his front-row start at Monza in his Force India Mercedes, Adrian Sutil qualified 16th with team-mate Tonio Liuzzi 20th and last. The high downforce nature of the street circuit does not flatter the characteristics of the VJM02 challenger…
Jaime Alguersuari starts 17th in the second Toro Rosso Ferrari ahead of the struggling Giancarlo Fisichella
in the second Ferrari. Like his predecessor Luca Badoer, Fisichella is making little impression behind the wheel of the number three F60 admitting he is still some way from the limit of the car. Romain Grosjean complained of a braking issue and went on to qualifying the second Renault 19th and faces a long tough Sunday racing at the back of the field…
With passing difficult at the best of times, qualifying for the 61-lap Singapore Grand Prix was especially important, but until the fuel weights are published, it is too early to predict Sunday’s race outcome.