Rosberg takes pole in Singapore, Hamilton only good enough for P3; Red Bull’s Ricciardo splits the Mercedes with impressive P2
If there was a blot on Mighty Mercedes’ record during their dominant 2015 campaign it was their underwhelming performance in the Singapore Grand Prix. But this year it appears that the Silver Arrows have eliminated even that small spot of weakness, as Nico Rosberg took pole in Saturday qualifying under the dazzling lights at the Marina Bay Circuit. He set his fast time early in Q3 but his teammate and archrival, Lewis Hamilton, could never catch him. In fact, it was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo who came closest, beating Hamilton to P2 on the grid by just under a tenth of second. With Lewis starting on Row 2 now and his newly relevant clutch-bite starting issues it could be that Rosberg may well keep his recent momentum up and recapture the championship points lead. But the tight street circuit can bite at any time and Hamilton is always a determined opponent so expect nothing less than the two Mercedes teammates duking it out for the victory in Round 15 with only 6 races left in the season after tomorrow.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen struggled somewhat with his tires but was still quick enough for P4. In truth this tight and windy course suits the very well balance RB12 chassis so if anyone is going to pull an upset and beat Mercedes it could well be one of the Red Bulls. My money would be on Riccardo, as Verstappen will likely struggle to keep his car out of the walls just as he seems to always do at Monaco. Kimi Raikkonen took P5 for Ferrari with a decent run but his teammate Sebastian Vettel will have to start from the back after he experienced some sort of breakage to his rear suspension in Q1. It will be extremely difficult for the German former 4-time World Champion to fight his way to the front on this sort of track and Ferrari seem doomed to have another poor points haul in the Constructors’ Championship compared to their nearest competitor, Team Red Bull, no matter how high Raikkonen places.
The two Toro Rosso’s were quite impressive and gave the team a well-needed lift after several weeks of poor results, with Carlos Sainz fast enough for P6 and Daniil Kvyat showing shades of his 2015 form in P7. Force India also did well, with Nico Hulkenberg fast enough for P8 and Sergio Perez P10 [Perez was later slapped with an 8-spot grid penalty for failing to slow sufficiently under a double-yellow brought out by a shunt by Haas’ Romain Grosjean’s in Q2] , while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso split them with a P9 after teammate Jenson Button clipped the wall in Q2 and failed to advance.
Top 10 qualifiers in Singapore:
|2||3||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:44.255||1:43.933||1:43.115||12|
|4||33||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:45.036||1:44.112||1:43.328||12|
|6||55||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||1:45.499||1:44.493||1:44.197||14|
|7||26||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||1:45.291||1:44.475||1:44.469||15|
|8||27||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:46.081||1:44.737||1:44.479||17|
|10||11||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:45.204||1:44.703||1:44.582||20|
Tomorrow’s race airs live starting at 8AM Eastern on NBC Sports here in the States. Hope to see you then!