F1 2013 Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying Review and Race Preview
Sebastian Vettel just managed to hang on to pole position in Singapore, his second in a row and his 5th of the season.
Local Time: 8 PM (Singapore)
Podium Finish: Romain Grosjean @ 2.60 See the Latest Odds
TV: Sky F1 (UK), NBC (USA)
In the end, qualifying wasn't as comfortable as it perhaps could have been for Sebastian Vettel. The way in which pole position at Monza was almost a given after the obvious pace of the RB9 was shown during the Free Practice sessions was the same way that pole position, and a front-row lockout, was Red Bull's to lose.
Despite Vettel’s claim that he had more time left if he needed, the fact of the matter is that the gap between Rosberg and himself was less than a tenth of a second. When the gap is that small is reckless and unnecessary to gamble just to save a set of tyres that won’t even be that advantageous in the race.
Only Vettel, Webber and Grosjean were able to save an extra set of super-soft tyres from Q1 running, effectively gaining an extra run in Q3 with a fresh set. While the two Red Bulls were certainly in a position to get into Q2 by running on the medium tyres, Romain Grosjean's genuine gamble ended up paying off as he ended up P3 on the grid.
Grosjean's performance was evidence that the Lotus certainly had the pace, and Kimi Raikkonen would definitely have been in a position to make the most of the E21's resurgence had it not been for back troubles. The Finn will struggle on the bumpy street circuit as it was revealed he will have to take pain killers to get him throughout what will almost certainly be a two hour race.
While Vettel took pole, Webber didn't quite hook up the lap required and ended up in P4, a disappointing result considering what was on offer. Nevertheless, both Red Bulls put in tremendous race pace performances over FP2 and will be both thinking that podiums are certainties if everything goes to plan.
Nico Rosberg surprised with an excellent final lap in qualifying which put him a scarce tenth behind Vettel, marking Mercedes visible upturn in performance. Lewis Hamilton was also disappointing considering that he had shown the pace that the Mercedes had, but he too couldn't quite get the lap together when it was required.
Fernando Alonso will also have to be frustrated with his performance, which is more down to the car’s pace than himself. In a week where Ferrari offloaded Felipe Massa with the reason of poor performance, the Brazilian bit back by out-qualifying Alonso once more this season. It means that there's just one more person Alonso has to get through from his P7 grid slot, just ahead of Jenson Button.
The start should be fascinating, especially given we have three different cars in the top three, two of them free to race without the burden of having to fight for a championship.
It's hard to go past Vettel for yet another win, especially given how hard overtaking is around the Marina Bay circuit. I wouldn't expect any major changes to the order, save for any incidents, which could potentially happen considering how close the walls are.
The promise of the Lotus E21 is still too good to ignore, the car is well balanced and is definitely capable of a podium position, although it would be more likely in the hand of Raikkonen than Grosjean. Nevertheless, having not tasted the champagne since the German Grand Prix, Grosjean is perhaps due for a big performance.
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