25 Sep 2010, Reuters
Formula One: Fernando Alonso made it back-to-back poles after clinching top spot for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix. Ferrari went to Italy a fortnight ago without a pole for 29 races, but have suddenly come alive in qualifying with Alonso outgunning Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who will start second.
The second row of the grid at the Marina Bay street circuit will be an all-British, all-McLaren affair, with Lewis Hamilton edging out team-mate Jenson Button for third place.
Crucially for those four drivers they are all ahead of championship leader Mark Webber in his Red Bull as the top five in the title fight are the top five on the grid for the race.
Behind Webber will be Williams’ Rubens Barrichello in a season’s high of sixth, followed by Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in seventh and ninth.
The German pair sandwich Renault’s Robert Kubica in eighth, with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi completing the top 10.
Jaime Alguersuari will start from 11th after missing out on a place in the top 10 for what would have been the first time in his career by just 0.067 seconds.
Although Nico Hulkenberg qualified 12th, the German will drop to 17th due to a five-place grid penalty incurred for a gearbox change in his Williams.
It means Vitaly Petrov will move up to 12th, which could have been so much more but for a spin at turn four in his Renault.
That brought a very early end to his Q2, and with it being another mistake from the Russian, it adds to the doubts hanging over his future with the team.
Alguersuari’s team-mate Sebastien Buemi will start 13th, with Nick Heidfeld 14th for Sauber on his return to F1 after almost 11 months on the sidelines.
Force India will be bitterly disappointed with their performance as Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi will be 15th and 16th.
After the initial 20-minute Q1, as has predominantly been the way this season, Lotus, Virgin and Hispania Racing’s drivers occupied six of the bottom seven places, with the other spot going to one of the big names.
Felipe Massa, who started on pole in the inaugural Singapore race in 2008, will be at the back of the grid for this year’s event due to an apparent issue with the electronic management of the gearbox.
The Brazilian’s Ferrari ground to a halt at turn eight, bringing out the red flags with 10 minutes and 35 seconds of the session remaining.
Massa had yet to set a time, so he now faces a fight to claim at least a point from 24th, whilst more significantly Alonso has lost his wingman, with Ferrari now favouring the Spaniard.
Ahead of the 29-year-old will be Virgin’s Timo Glock in 18th and the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen in 19th, followed by their team-mates Lucas Di Grassi and Jarno Trulli in 20th and 21st.
In his first qualifying session for four years, Christian Klien, standing in for Sakon Yamamoto who has food poisoning, easily out-qualified Hispania team-mate Bruno Senna by 1.2secs, with the duo to line up 22nd and 23rd.
After claiming the 20th pole of his career, moving up to equal 10th in the all-time list alongside Damon Hill, Alonso said: “It was not an easy qualifying.
“We had very little running in dry conditions (in practice), with the circuit remaining damp in parts, but we got 100 per cent out of the car and that was the target for us.
“It’s now going to be a tough race, but pole will help whether it’s dry or wet in terms of visibility, but we are not too worried about either as we are good in both.”
It was a qualifying of regret for Vettel who said: “It was a pretty messy one for us. I never got into the rhythm, I was always in traffic. I just never got it into one lap as I did in practice.
“In Q3 on my first lap I misjudged the gap to the car ahead, so I lost that, and then on my second I clipped the wall and couldn’t recover. We had the car to be on pole, but it was not enough, but we’ve a good car for the race. I won’t be the happiest tonight when I go to sleep, Fernando will be happier.”
Hamilton was far more content with his third spot as he said: “It was not such a bad qualifying session. I can’t really complain. I’m on the best side of the grid and we’ve had the best starts for quite some time, so hopefully that will continue tomorrow.