Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 19. syyskuuta 2015

Singapore GP / Qualifying: Vettel stormed on pole in a superior way!

I started my day by going swimming in a lake. The water was about +13 degrees so it was a very refreshing start to the day! Exceptionally I had a work day although it's Saturday. But luckily I got home right in time to watch qualifying live on TV. And what an incredible qualifying I was about to see!

The venue of Marina Bay Circuit is absolutely breathtaking. In my opinion it's the most perfect venue for an F1 race. The cars look astonishing in those artificial lights. During the opening minutes of the first session I just kept staring all those shiny cars and enjoyed the sight of their beauty. The Ferraris didn't only shine nicely but they seemed to perform convincingly as well. What really caught my eye was the fact that Mercedes seemed to lack pace in the way that hasn't been seen previously this season. Sebastian was the fastest man on track after the first run on the soft tyres. His pace was utterly crushing as the German was 7 tenths of a second faster than Red Bull's Ricciardo. Sebastian's lap time was so convincing that he could afford to sit out the second runs. His team-mate Räikkönen and Red Bull's Ricciardo made their second runs on another set of soft tyres whilst all their rivals opted for a set of red-marked super soft tyres. Red Bull's Kvyat topped the timesheets with Hamilton second. Sebastian was third and Ricciardo fourth in spite of the different tyre strategy. Maldonado in his Lotus, both Saubers and both Marussia drivers were out of Q2. American Alexander Rossi replaced Merhi at Marussia for five upcoming GP weekends including this at Singapore.

When Q2 got underway it became clearer and clearer that Red Bull were on top form. The Mercedes pilots seemed to be seriously struggling with their pace. However, to me it still seemed too unreal to be true and I was sure that at least by Q3 they would push some miracle button on their car and they would be back on top. But after the first attempts Sebastian had clocked the fastest lap time with Kvyat second and Kimi third. Hamilton was 9 tenths off the pace! Both Ferrari and Red Bull drivers sat out the second runs. In the dying moments of Q2 Sainz in his Toro Rosso clobbered the wall with the left-rear of his STR10 in turn 19 and caused yellow flags in sector 3. This meant that no one could improve his lap time at the end of the session. Both Force Indias were out of the final session, so were the McLarens of Alonso and Button. Sainz, who had hit the wall, was naturally also out of Q3. I was very happy for his team-mate though: Verstappen continued his impressive performances and was 5th fastest in Q2! Hamilton was left in P6 and his team-mate Rosberg in P7.

In Q3 Hamilton aborted his first flying lap after running wide over the kerb in turn 7. Sebastian took provisional pole by three tenths of a second over Ricciardo. Kimi was third only six hundredths of a second off Ricciardo. Verstappen at the wheel of his STR10 opted for one run only. Right at the end Sebastian emphasized his superiority by increasing his pole margin from 3 tenths into half a second! Wow, he was really on fire today! Ricciardo managed to maintain his second place and Kimi made it P3 today. Although I couldn't help noticing that Kimi was 7 tenths of a second off his team-mate's pace. But any way, third place on the grid is an excellent place to start to the race. Kvyat completed the second row by qualifying 4th. Finally Hamilton qualified 5th and Rosberg 6th 1.4 seconds back from Vettel's polesitting Ferrari! Bottas in his Williams qualified 7th, Verstappen 8th, Massa in the other Williams 9th and Grosjean completed the top ten for Lotus.

So for the first time since June of last year, Sunday will see a grand prix start without a Mercedes on pole position! Mercedes' streak of consecutive front-row starts is halted at 23 races - one short of Williams' all-time record. Also Hamilton's personal run of consecutive pole positions was halted at seven, one short of Ayrton Senna's record. Performance-wise it's really interesting to see what will happen in the race tomorrow. Mercedes have only finished off the podium once this season, which happened in Hungary in the summer. After the qualifying Hamilton was complaining that the tyres weren't working on the car and that there was no grip.

I hope Sebastian's pace in the race will be as mesmerizing as it was today in the qualifying! Kimi had also issues with the grip today so the Iceman was surprised that he managed to qualify as high as third. Hopefully his start will be much better than in Monza two weeks ago! However, I have a good feeling about the race. But before that I want to seize this moment and this feeling of happiness, which Sebastian created by conquering pole for the first time as a Ferrari driver! If he won tomorrow I would definitely want to hear comments from him in Finnish. He has put so much effort into speaking Italian lately that he seems to have forgotten all about Finnish... And I miss him speaking Finnish in his own perfect way! :D

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