Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

lauantai 16. syyskuuta 2017

Singapore GP / Qualifying: Magical Sebastian snatched pole!

The magical lights of Marina Bay Street Circuit surprise me every time, although this is already the tenth GP weekend in the metropolis of Singapore. The artificial lights bring out the glamour of Formula 1 cars, and I have to say Singapore is definitely the most fairy tale-like venue on the calendar.

Q1 got underway in the darkening night of Singapore. The Ferraris of Kimi and Sebastian rushed out on the purple-marked ultra soft Pirellis. Kimi´s pace seemed competitive right away, and the Iceman was six tenths faster than his teammate on the first attempt. The pecking order seemed quite evenly matched in the first session. Red Bull´s performance turned out very impressive, and for a moment the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were topping the timesheets. However, Hamilton showed initially, that he couldn´t be written off from the fight for the fastest lap time, as the Briton jumped second, splitting the Red Bulls. The walls were near at the Marina Bay Circuit, and there was no room for mistakes. Williams´ Massa ended up hitting the wall at Turn 21, which caused the Brazilian a puncture. There was oil at Turn 20 due to the Porsche Cup race earlier on in the afternoon, which made the conditions extra slippery and challenging. The Red Bull duo had no need a second run, as they were topping the timesheets. Alonso in his McLaren made a second attempt at the very end of the first session -jumping 3rd! Sainz made it as high as 4th and Alonso´s teammate Vandoorne fifth -both setting their fastest lap times at the very end of the session. Kimi was 11th and teammate Sebastian 12th, as they made no second runs. These standings were quite modest in terms of Ferrari´s true pace. Once again familiar names were knocked out of the second session: Haas´ Magnussen, Williams duo of Massa and Stroll and Sauber teammates Wehrlein and Ericsson.

As the light turned green, all top drivers went out on the ultra soft tyres. Red Bull continued their top performance, as Verstappen went fastest on his first run. Sebastian was only 15 hundredths of a second down on the flying Dutchman. Ricciardo was third and Kimi fourth, so the battle for pole seemed to be down to these two teams. As track conditions kept improving throughout the second session, everyone opted for a second run at the end of the session. Kimi set a stunning lap time on his last run, jumping second. However, Red Bull took the upper hand on the red team again. Verstappen topped the timesheets, with his teammate Ricciardo second. There were only 53 thousandths of a second separating the Red Bull aces. Kimi was third and Sebastian fourth; Kimi edging his teammate by just four thousandths of a second! Mercedes was clearly struggling with their pace, as expected. Hamilton was unable to make it higher than fifth. In addition to the three top teams, both McLarens, Renault´s Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso´s Sainz managed to make it among the top ten.

But when the decisive Q3 got underway, Sebastian´s SF70-H came alive! It was magic right from the start. Sebastian took provisional pole, edging Red Bull´s Verstappen by 0.145s. Once again Ricciardo was third and Kimi fourth. The Mercedes teammates Hamilton and Bottas were inevitably out of the shootout for pole. Bottas was massive 1.1s down on Sebastian! Mercedes seemed utterly lost under the shining lights of Singapore. Kimi was setting a superb lap time on his second run -until he slightly touched the wall in the final sector, which destroyed the Iceman´s hopes of improving his lap time. Neither Verstappen nor Ricciardo was able to improve his lap time on his last flyer. That wasn´t the case for Sebastian, who was absolutely flying on his last run! Even though it meant a small kiss to the wall on the closing stages... Super Sebastian stormed on pole, the German Ferrari ace being three tenths faster than Verstappen! Ricciardo qualified third, which was an excellent result for Red Bull. Due to his mistake, Kimi had to settle for P4. Hamilton was left in P5, six tenths down on pole-setter Sebastian. Teammate Bottas had even more serious issues with his pace, as the Finn was already massive 1.3s down on Sebastian. Hulkenberg, Alonso, Vandoorne and Sainz completed the top ten.

There seems to be something magical about the combination of Sebastian and the Marina Bay Street Circuit. This 49th career pole was already the fourth pole in Singapore for Sebastian! Tomorrow is all about maximising the race result for Ferrari. Singapore is expected to be the most difficult circuit of the calendar for Mercedes, so Sebastian and Kimi need to use this advantage. I have to say I´m a bit nervous about the start, as Verstappen will be the driver to start alongside Sebastian on the front row... Max is known to be passionate about getting past his rivals right away, so there might be an extra risk at the start. If Sebastian manages to keep his lead at the start, he´ll win the race! And I definitely want to see my hero on the top step of the podium in the magical Singapore GP! It would be a dream come true to see a 1-2 for Ferrari!

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