Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position using the ultrasoft tyre, following a thrilling qualifying hour around the floodlit streets of Singapore. Rosberg’s time of 1m42.584s was the fastest lap ever seen at Singapore since the race was inaugurated in 2008, beating the previous benchmark of 1m42.841s from Sebastian Vettel in 2013 during qualifying.
As expected track temperatures fell as each Qualifying session continued. Most drivers were straight onto ultrasoft from the start of Q1, with the exception of Toro Rosso. Carlos Sainz was actually the only driver to set his best Q1 time on the supersoft (around 0.9 seconds per lap slower than the softest compound available). There was early drama for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari, as a broken anti-roll bar prevented the German from setting a competitive time. Ferrari did replace the bar but not before the end of Q1, meaning Sebastian will start from the back of the grid.
Last year’s pole position time was already broken in the early stages of Q2, where all the drivers used ultrasoft apart from Red Bull, which went out on supersoft from the beginning. Both drivers set their best time on this compound, which means that they will be the only ones in the top 10 to start on the supersoft, aiming to run longer into the race than Mercedes. Singapore already hinting at risky strategies at use as teams gamble to capitalise on the tracks more level playing field.
Rosberg’s ultrasoft pole time came during his first run in Q3, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo claimed P2 on the grid during his second run. While Mercedes and Red Bull locked out the front rows line astern the biggest performance came from Red Bull’s Junior team, as Sainz Jr and Kvyat qualified 6th and 7th respectively. Nico Rosberg was an impressive 8th and, proving that if you have an engine bolted to the car you can compete in Singapore, Fernando Alonso was 9th.
With six out of the eight Grands Prix held so far in Singapore won from pole position, qualifying was an extremely important session. However there has never been a race without a safety car at Marina Bay, which clearly has potential to mix up the strategy variables.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We witnessed qualifying sessions with some surprises from start to finish. Strategy already came to the forefront from Q2, when Red Bull opted to run on the supersoft to set their fastest times. As a result, they will be the only starters in the top 10 to begin the race on this compound, which means that they can run an alternative strategy. We’d expect to see at least two stops per car tomorrow, but this is always one of the hardest races to predict.”
How the tyres behaved today:
Soft: Used at the start of Q1 by Manor: may figure in some alternative race strategies.
Supersoft: Used only by Red Bull in Q2, meaning that they can run a longer first stint.
Ultrasoft: Used to set pole position and mostly by everybody during Q2 and Q3.
Free practice 3 – top three times
Qualifying top 10
|Sainz Jr||1m44.197s||Ultrasoft New|
Most laps by compound so far
|Sainz Jr||23 laps|
Best time by compound so far