Hamilton wins in Singapore
Lewis Hamilton led almost from lights to flag to claim his second grand prix of the season, while Jenson Button again benefited from the misfortune of others to shore up his world championship advantage on the streets of Singapore.
Having made a lightning start, Hamilton was only briefly troubled, initially as Nico Rosberg tagged along with the McLaren, and later when Sebastian Vettel refused to be shaken off after a safety car restart, but looked comfortable as he paced the field to the chequered flag under the lights of Marina Bay. The world champion only lost the lead after taking his second fuel and tyre stop, allowing 2008 race winner Fernando Alonso a handful of laps at the front, but retook the advantage when the Spaniard stopped and cruised home over seven seconds to the good.
Rosberg appeared on course for another second place in Singapore, but made an error exiting the pits on his first stop and was relegated into the midfield by the ensuing penalty for crossing the blend line - a problem compounded by the timing of the race's only safety car, which was called for a collision between fellow Germans Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld on lap 21.
Vettel took up the mantle of chief pursuer to Hamilton, but made his own mistake by exceeding the pit-lane speed limit on his second stop, although the damage was not as severe as that endured by his Williams rival. The Red Bull driver came home as the best-placed title contender, in fourth place, despite concerns over his brakes after team-mate Mark Webber crashed when his right front disc failed.
Vettel's problem promoted yet another German, Timo Glock, into an eventual second, the Toyota team being rewarded with a solid run back to the podium as Glock equalled his best finish in F1. Alonso completed the podium for the beleaguered Renault team, which had earlier seen rookie Romain Grosjean post the race's first retirement.
The Brawns were also in brake trouble, forcing Button to call of his late-race pursuit of Vettel and settle for fifth, enough to extend his lead over team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who chased the Briton across the line in a race that almost made it to the two-hour time limit.
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 61 laps 1hr 56m 06.337s
2. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota +00m 09.6s
3. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +00m 16.6s
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 20.2s
5. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes +00m 30.0s
6. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes +00m 31.8s
7. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes +00m 36.1s
8. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber +00m 55.0s
9. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota +00m 56.0s
10. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 58.8s
11. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota +00m 59.7s
12. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota +01m 13.0s
13. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari +01m 19.8s
14. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes +01m 33.5s
Rtd Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 45 laps completed
Rtd Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 23 laps completed
Rtd Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 19 laps completed
Rtd Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 3 laps completed
Hamilton surprise by his pole!
Lewis Hamilton admitted it was an unexpected surprise to secure his third pole in four race for the latest round of the F1 season in Singapore.
Hamilton had endured a tough start to the weekend in Friday practice but a change of chassis overnight led to an upturn in fortunes when the current champion posted the quickest time during final practice.
The Briton then led the way in the first stage of qualifying and was again quickest after the first run in Q3 before the top ten returned to the track to complete their final qualifying runs. When Rubens Barrichello then went into the wall exiting turn five and brought out the red flags, a 16th career pole was secured and Hamilton admitted it had been a pleasant surprise.
“It's an absolutely fantastic result,” he said. “We came here with several technical upgrades, and we didn't know if we'd be up there – particularly after Friday practice, which wasn't spectacular for me. My pole lap was very relaxed: the car has just got better and better as the track has evolved, and I think I would have gone faster on my final lap if the session hadn't been aborted.
“I didn't expect to be on pole today, but our pace has been really good. We'll need to see what fuel loads everyone else is running, but I feel quite confident in what we're doing and I'm in the best position for the race tomorrow.”
While Hamilton benefitted from the red flag in Q3, the same couldn't be said for team-mate Heikki Kovalainen who could only post the tenth quickest time as he was unable to get a lap on the quicker option tyres due to the early stoppage.
“This is a very disappointing result for me,” the Finn said. “In the first two sessions, things went smoothly – although my laptimes weren't as competitive as I was expecting. For Q3, I didn't get a good enough lap in during my first run as I'd been running the harder tyre, which wasn't quick enough. I also made a couple of mistakes, but I was focusing my efforts on my second run – which would have been on a set of new option tyres.
“It's going to be a tough race tomorrow: starting from ninth will make things very difficult, but there's nothing I can do about that now, so I'm just going to absolutely go for it tomorrow.”
Hamilton takes Singapore pole under red flag
Lewis Hamilton was assured of pole position for the second Singapore Grand Prix after Rubens Barrichello banged the wall on his final flying lap around the Marina Bay circuit.
The Briton was already fastest of the final ten runners when Barrichello lost his car over the bumps heading into turn five, connecting the wall heavily with the left-hand side of the Brawn.
While Hamilton was left sitting pretty in his third pole of the year - and one that many expected him to take - Q2 pacesetter Nico Rosberg could be a little more aggrieved, having been on a better lap at the time the red flags were shown. The German will subsequently start from the inside of row two, with countryman Sebastian Vettel between himself and Hamilton, having also been denied a final shot at top spot.
Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber will line up alongside Rosberg, while Barrichello remained fifth fastest. The Brazilian, however, will drop to tenth after taking his gearbox change penalty, putting him just two spots ahead of Brawn team-mate and title rival Jenson Button, who missed the cut for Q3.
Fernando Alonso, Timo Glock, Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen will all move up one spot because of Barrichello's penalty.
Singapore Grand Prix – Qualifying times
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 47.891s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 48.204s
3. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1m 48.348s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 48.722s
5. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Brawn-Mercedes 1m 48.828s*
6. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault 1m 49.054s
7. Timo Glock Germany Toyota-Toyota 1m 49.180s
8. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1m 49.307s
9. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1m 49.514s
10. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1m 49.778s
11. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1m 47.013s
12. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1m 47.141s
13. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 47.177s
14. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 47.369s
15. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota-Toyota 1m 47.413s
16. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 48.231s
17. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 48.340s
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 48.350s
19. Romain Grosjean France Renault-Renault 1m 48.544s
20. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes 1m 48.792s