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Qualifying analysis - the gambler scoops the prize 21 Sep 2013

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 in the garage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W04.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E21.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F138.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-28.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1, left, chats to an engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Charles Pic (FRA) Caterham CT03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013 Max Chilton (GBR) Marussia F1 Team MR02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday, 21 September 2013

Perfect conditions once again led to uncomplicated qualifying sessions in Singapore on Saturday, though a ramp-up in track conditions and grip in the final minutes of Q3 nearly caused an upset. We take a team-by-team look at the pre-race formbook at Marina Bay…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 42.841s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 43.152s, P4

Vettel was so quick on his first run in Q3 that he elected not to make a second, and nearly paid a heavy price. Improving track conditions ramped up the grip, and Rosberg and Grosjean got tantalisingly close to the RB9. But even with that there was no disguising the superiority of the Red Bull, and Vettel’s race pace has everyone else worried. Webber didn’t do a bad lap, but said he was disappointed to lose out on the front row.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 42.932s, P2
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 43.254s, P5

Rosberg said that some small improvements to is W04’s set-up, allied to the late track improvement, helped him to squeeze his excellent P2 time out on his second run in Q3, but Hamilton admitted that he just didn’t get the best of what his car had to offer.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 43.058s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 44.658s, P13

Grosjean carried the Lotus flag all through the day, as Raikkonen struggled with a pinched nerve in his back which, at one time, raised doubts over whether he could drive. The team gambled on running only the medium Pirellis in Q1 and that strategy paid off handsomely in Q2 and Q3. The Frenchman said his E21 was even better in FP3, and that the fall of night and the slightly lower temperature took the edge off it, but also felt that he might just have squeaked ahead of Rosberg with a little better luck. The Finn said that his back was painful, but that he did his best.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 43.890s, P6
Fernando Alonso, 1m 43.938s, P7

Once again, Ferrari struggled in qualifying, and again Massa out-qualified Alonso, for what that’s worth. The Spaniard said he still thinks a podium is a possibility in such a long race and with such high chances of a safety-car intervention. Massa, meanwhile, was really happy to find a decent lap in his car after spending so much time honing the set-up in practice.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 44.282s, P8
Sergio Perez, 1m 44.752s, P14

Button said he was pleased with the progress McLaren have been making with the MP4-28, and all day it showed flashes of promise. Perez, however, rued changes that had been made to his car’s set-up for qualifying, and said that in Q2 it began oversteering too much.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 44.439s, P9
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 44.588s, P12

Toro Rosso were a little disappointed with ninth and 12th, especially as Ricciardo had to work harder than he has in recent races to make Q3. Vergne missed out by a tiny margin, but hopes that saving tyres from not running in Q3 will be to his advantage in the race.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, No Q3 time, P10
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 44.555s, P11

Once again Sauber looked good, confirming that the progress seen at Monza was more deeply rooted than just a good low-downforce package. Gutierrez had his best qualifying session of the year to make it through to Q3, though not running then in order to save tyres means he will line up 10th. Hulkenberg should also have got through, but his DRS stopped working at the crucial moment in Q2.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 45.185s, P15
Paul di Resta, 1m 46.121s, P17

Force India continued to chase the elusive speed they had before the change in Pirelli’s tyre construction. Both drivers said that their VJM06s were just too slow to fight for Q3.

Williams
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 45.388s, P16
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 46.619s, P18

It was a similar story at Williams, where Maldonado failed to make Q2, and Bottas to make Q3. They reported difficulty switching on the tyres, and tricky handling as a result.

Caterham
Charles Pic, 1m 48.111s, P19
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 48.320s, P20

Changes to Pic’s car for FP3 turned Friday’s understeer into oversteer, and though he improved the aero balance he still felt the mechanical balance was too far rearward. Van der Garde said he was happy with his CT03 in FP3, but that he lost time with traffic on his first run in Q1, and after brushing a wall on his second.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 1m 48.830, P21
Max Chilton, 1m 48.930s, P22

Marussia were delighted to be so close to Caterham, but mystified that both cars picked up understeer and were thus slower on their second runs in Q1.

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