Grosjean Steps Up To Take Third In Singapore

Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg celebrate after qualifying.  (Photo: LAT Photographic)

Romain Grosjean, and Nico Rosberg celebrate after qualifying. (Photo: LAT Photographic)

With team mate hampered by a back injury Romain Grosjean stepped up to take third on the grid in Singapore.

Grosjean was one of only three drivers to have the confidence to gamble on using only supersoft tires to progress from Q1, along with Vettel and Webber. He was only 0.217s off pole man Vettel in Q3, although he also lost out to Nico Rosberg.

“I think the car’s been OK today,” said the Frenchman. “If we look at how many laps we did in the whole weekend so far, P3 in the qualy is not too bad. We knew we were strong this morning. I think we got a little bit caught by the night coming on and it was a little bit less quick than the fast time we expected in Q1 but nevertheless I think the team did a good decision about the strategy and the cut-off and everything, so then we had two attempts in Q3. It’s good to be at the front in this Grand Prix.”

Grosjean lost a lot of track time on Friday to hydraulic problems, but said he wasn’t discouraged.

“Well to be honest, yesterday didn’t look that bad on the few laps we did – I think we had 10 timed laps, something like that in total in the whole day but we were something like P5 yesterday evening and the lap wasn’t great. So I knew we had a good baseline to start today and this morning went pretty well.

“In Q1 it was tight because I guess the Prime tires were less quick than what we expected but then we had a very good set of tires for the Q2 and Q3 and we did manage to have good runs. We could compare between the two cars, what they were doing and what we were doing and try to get the best of both. It’s good. I think we could have tried to have a go at Nico, but it was just not quite good for the first few corners.”

I Just Wasn’t Fast Enough, Says Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton struggles in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

struggles in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

A frustrated Lewis Hamilton blamed himself for qualifying only fifth in Singapore, four places behind Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton, who was some 0.322s off the German, was clearly not happy after the session.

“I don’t feel great, it was a poor qualifying for me,” he said. “That’s two bad qualifying sessions I’ve had so I’m just going to try and improve for next time. At least I got to Q3. I just wasn’t fast enough, there’s nothing to put it down to, I just didn’t drive fast enough.

“I was pushing as fast as I could, but I just wasn’t fast enough. There was a lot of grip in the tires, and it’s the way you utilize them the most I think is where people find time and I didn’t utilise them as well as others.”

Regarding the race, he said: “I can try and get up onto the podium, that’s going to have to be the target, try and get some good points tomorrow, but I’ve still got people to beat.”

Asked if he was confident that there would be no tire issues, he added: “No, we’ll see tomorrow. It’s a different day. We could go well, we could go bad, we’ll see.”

Back Problem Slows Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen is battling a sore back in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Kimi Raikkonen is battling a sore back in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Kimi Raikkonen has been badly hampered in Singapore after he aggravated an old back injury.

Singapore’s bumps have left the Finn in pain reportedly related to a testing accident he suffered in his first year with Sauber back in 2001. After being 12th in FP3, he qualified only 13th in Singapore, 10 places behind teammate Romain Grosjean.

“Unfortunately, today didn’t go to plan, as the issue with my back meant I couldn’t really drive properly this morning,” he said. “So we didn’t get everything done like we wanted in the practice session. It’s still quite painful and there wasn’t much more I could do in qualifying when you take that combination of things into account.

“It’s not the first time I’ve driven with a problem, and it probably won’t be the last time, either, but I’ll be on the grid tomorrow, and we’ll try to get the maximum from where we are at the start.”

Vettel Gamble Pays Off As He Takes Pole In Garage

Sebastian Vettel rolls off first Sunday in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel rolls off first Sunday in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sebastian Vettel was the coolest man in a hot and humid Singapore when he sat out the final qualifying runs and let others attack his time.

Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber all came close, but in the end the gamble paid off, and Vettel took pole for Sunday’s race while standing in front of a TV monitor.

“It’s a weird feeling. You stand in the garage when there’s roughly two minutes to go in the session and you know that it’s too late,” he said. “But then it’s much worse when you see the others at the final attempt and you know there’s nothing you can do. I was watching the sector times very closely with, obviously, Romain, Nico and Mark in particular. Mark started with a purple sector one, very close in sector two, then Nico had a purple sector two, then Romain had a purple sector two.

“Then fortunately my last sector was strong enough to just stay ahead. It was very close in the end with Nico. That’s a great feeling then, obviously, because it could go wrong, but very happy obviously with the result. The car’s been phenomenal all weekend. Yesterday, I think the gap was a bit of a surprise. Today’s been more what we expected – especially with Mercedes being very close behind.

“I knew that obviously we had a cushion which is why we decided not to run again, but the thing you don’t know is how much the track improves, so I’m sure that there was a little bit of track ramping up, plus the fact that if you run again you get a better feel for the tires, for the track, and you get a little bit more out of yourself, so we thought it was good enough, and in the end it was good enough. But yeah, it was probably a bit closer. Both of them, Nico and Romain, had a very strong middle sector but fortunately my last sector was strong enough to keep them just behind.”

Vettel admitted that despite being on pole, his Sunday might not be so straightforward.

“It’s one of the toughest races we face all year,” the Red Bull driver said. “I would say the toughest – physically and mentally – because it’s so long. One lap is so long, there’s so many corners, there’s hardly any room for mistakes, it’s very bumpy and we’re all sweating pretty much even though we only did a couple of laps in qualifying.

“So the heat, obviously, and the humidity plays a factor. It will be very tough. Surely pole is the best position to start from – very happy with that as it is tricky to pass on this track. But because it is such a long race, I think there is plenty of opportunities for all of us. Usually we get a safety car at some stage in the race. Yeah, as I said, happy to start from pole, try to have a good start and then settle into a nice rhythm and see what we can do.”

Rosberg Closest Challenger To Vettel In Singapore

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg enjoyed a strong Saturday in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg enjoyed a strong Saturday in Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nico Rosberg emerged as the closest challenger to the dominant Sebastian Vettel in Singapore qualifying, and in the end the Mercedes ace missed stealing pole from his fellow German by just 0.091 seconds.

Vettel stood on his time from his first run and left Rosberg and others to attack it with their second runs.

“Unfortunately, Sebastian especially has been really quick the whole weekend but it was very, very close in the end,” said Rosberg. “A pity, because one tenth more, with the way they gambled in the last qualifying – one tenth more would have been possible somehow. That would have been great, but, anyway, second place is still a good result. And it gives me a good position to start the race tomorrow, and I’m also very confident about our race pace. It’s looking OK, so I think a great result is possible.”

Rosberg, who won in Monaco this year, has been quick in Singapore in the past.

“I really like street tracks, generally,” the Lotus driver said. “Always been quick on them and again today I felt comfortable with the car. Really the whole weekend, the progress has been nice. Starting on Friday, I wasn’t very happy with the car and everything, wasn’t feeling very good.

“We just worked through it, and really optimized it, and it was just perfect in qualifying then. It’s just everybody together: me with my engineers, the mechanics, everybody working together well. I’m pleased with second. I think Sebastian was out of reach this weekend, all weekend, so second is OK. And with a good race pace, should be good tomorrow.”

Asked about the chances of beating Vettel, he said: “I’ll give it a go. For sure, he’s quicker on race pace; we saw that on Friday, so if I can get by, then it’s possible that I can stay in front but it’s all down to the start. I think the left hand side has a little bit less grip than the right hand side on this track at the start, but we will see. It’s possible.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,