Pole gives Hamilton chance to cut Alonso’s lead

2012 Singapore Grand Prix pre-race anlaysis

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Marina Bay, 2012The last three Singapore Grands Prix have all been won from pole position.

That puts Lewis Hamilton in the best position for this weekend’s race. But with tyre degradation expected to be high and the ever-present threat of a disruptive safety car appearance, he can afford to take nothing for granted.

The start

With a short run to the first corner and little grip on the dirty side of the track, the pole sitter has to make a real mess of his start to lose the lead before turn one at Singapore. That’s exactly what happened to Luca Filippi in Saturday’s GP2 feature race.

Pole position is a vital advantage at Singapore and Hamilton will be eager not to waste it. He did just that at Melbourne earlier this year, handing victory to his team mate, but his recent starts have been much better.

He will be wary of the feisty Pastor Maldonado starting alongside him. Hamilton has been hit by the Williams driver once already this year.

With Fernando Alonso starting fifth, Hamilton has an opportunity to make major gains in the championship – one he will be determined not to miss out on.

Strategy

The top eight drivers will all start the race on super-soft tyres. These offer a significant performance advantage over the soft tyre but they don’t last long. Last year the front-runners began pitting around lap ten and we could see a similar situation here.

The drivers who qualified in the top six positions all made three scheduled pit stops while several of those behind opted to make two. After getting the super-soft tyre out of the way, the soft was the preferred tyre for most of the race.

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery suggested the super-soft may be more widely used this year: “With such a speed advantage from the super-soft tyres, the teams were looking after those in particular. We saw them being used for multiple runs, so that the drivers can save new sets for the race.”

However the teams remain unsure how long they will last. Vettel said: “Hopefully by the time we pit we have a big gap to the guys who are maybe on a different strategy. I think it’s difficult to know now how long we will be able to stay out.”

Last year’s race was also shaped by the appearance of the safety car halfway through. All the teams will be alert to the potential for the safety car to disrupt their plans as there hasn’t been a Singapore Grand Prix without one yet.

An early safety car appearance would be bad news for those at the front, as it would mean them falling further back into the pack when they emerge from the pits. Overtaking at Singapore is tricky, even with the advantage of fresher tyres and a DRS zone.

Qualifying times in full

Driver Car Q1 Q2 (vs Q1) Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’48.285 1’46.665 (-1.620) 1’46.362 (-0.303)
2 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’49.494 1’47.602 (-1.892) 1’46.804 (-0.798)
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’48.240 1’46.791 (-1.449) 1’46.905 (+0.114)
4 Jenson Button McLaren 1’49.381 1’47.661 (-1.720) 1’46.939 (-0.722)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’49.391 1’47.567 (-1.824) 1’47.216 (-0.351)
6 Paul di Resta Force India 1’48.028 1’47.667 (-0.361) 1’47.241 (-0.426)
7 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’48.717 1’47.513 (-1.204) 1’47.475 (-0.038)
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1’47.688 1’47.529 (-0.159) 1’47.788 (+0.259)
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’49.546 1’47.823 (-1.723)
10 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’49.463 1’47.943 (-1.520)
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1’49.547 1’47.975 (-1.572)
12 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1’48.169 1’48.261 (+0.092)
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’49.767 1’48.344 (-1.423)
14 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’49.055 1’48.505 (-0.550)
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1’49.023 1’48.774 (-0.249)
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1’49.564 1’48.849 (-0.715)
17 Bruno Senna Williams 1’49.809
18 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’49.933
19 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1’50.846
20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1’51.137
21 Timo Glock Marussia 1’51.370
22 Charles Pic Marussia 1’51.762
23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1’52.372
24 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1’53.355

Had Sebastian Vettel been able to replicate his Q2 time in Q3, he would be starting from the front row.

“I think the pace was there to do better than what we did in Q2,” said Vettel. “But in Q3 we just couldn’t pick and in the end I was even struggling to repeat the lap I did in the beginning.”

Kamui Kobayashi missed out on Q2 having struggled with his set-up: “We have tried everything but could not get rid of the huge oversteer.

“I have no confidence in the car and this is really the last thing you want to have to cope with on such a street circuit.”

Sector times

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Lewis Hamilton 28.381 (1) 41.268 (1) 36.713 (1)
Pastor Maldonado 28.579 (5) 41.408 (3) 36.817 (2)
Sebastian Vettel 28.449 (2) 41.427 (4) 36.874 (3)
Jenson Button 28.547 (3) 41.438 (6) 36.954 (4)
Fernando Alonso 28.758 (9) 41.391 (2) 36.994 (5)
Paul di Resta 28.577 (4) 41.437 (5) 37.227 (9)
Mark Webber 28.643 (6) 41.720 (8) 37.033 (7)
Romain Grosjean 28.783 (12) 41.643 (7) 37.024 (6)
Michael Schumacher 28.700 (7) 41.728 (9) 37.395 (12)
Nico Rosberg 28.716 (8) 41.952 (14) 37.275 (10)
Nico Hulkenberg 28.758 (9) 41.867 (12) 37.350 (11)
Kimi Raikkonen 28.871 (14) 42.038 (15) 37.169 (8)
Felipe Massa 28.762 (11) 41.846 (11) 37.712 (13)
Sergio Perez 28.922 (15) 41.790 (10) 37.792 (14)
Daniel Ricciardo 28.854 (13) 42.086 (16) 37.828 (15)
Jean-Eric Vergne 29.038 (17) 41.935 (13) 37.876 (17)
Bruno Senna 28.938 (16) 42.331 (17) 37.852 (16)
Kamui Kobayashi 29.371 (19) 42.476 (18) 38.086 (18)
Vitaly Petrov 29.355 (18) 43.057 (19) 38.434 (20)
Heikki Kovalainen 29.542 (20) 43.211 (20) 38.384 (19)
Timo Glock 29.573 (21) 43.275 (21) 38.522 (21)
Charles Pic 29.715 (22) 43.388 (22) 38.659 (22)
Narain Karthikeyan 29.832 (23) 43.626 (23) 38.914 (23)
Pedro de la Rosa 29.916 (24) 43.730 (24) 39.362 (24)

Button was not as happy with his McLaren’s set-up as his team mate: “I didn?óÔéĽÔäót really feel comfortable with my car, the rear went away from me quite quickly, and I struggled to look after the tyres over a lap.”

Speed trap

Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 294.9 (183.2)
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 294.5 (183.0) -0.4
3 Jenson Button McLaren 293.8 (182.6) -1.1
4 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 293.7 (182.5) -1.2
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 293.6 (182.4) -1.3
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 293.5 (182.4) -1.4
7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 293.4 (182.3) -1.5
8 Mark Webber Red Bull 293.4 (182.3) -1.5
9 Paul di Resta Force India 293.0 (182.1) -1.9
10 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 292.9 (182.0) -2.0
11 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 292.6 (181.8) -2.3
12 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 292.2 (181.6) -2.7
13 Sergio Perez Sauber 291.9 (181.4) -3.0
14 Bruno Senna Williams 291.1 (180.9) -3.8
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams 290.5 (180.5) -4.4
16 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 290.3 (180.4) -4.6
17 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 290.2 (180.3) -4.7
18 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 289.6 (179.9) -5.3
19 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 288.5 (179.3) -6.4
20 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 288.5 (179.3) -6.4
21 Romain Grosjean Lotus 286.6 (178.1) -8.3
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 286.3 (177.9) -8.6
23 Charles Pic Marussia 284.3 (176.7) -10.6
24 Timo Glock Marussia 283.4 (176.1) -11.5

2012 Singapore Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Singapore Grand Prix articles

Image ?é?® McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Advert | Go Ad-free

44 comments on Pole gives Hamilton chance to cut Alonso’s lead

  1. Adam Tate (@adam-tate) said on 22nd September 2012, 19:25

    Wow, Hamilton quickest in all three sectors, fastest through the speed trap and a half second up on Maldonado in Q3. He will have to really screw up to not come home with the victory, let alone a podium.

    If McLaren can keep up this form, Hamilton will reel in Alonso. Austin and Brazil are going to be intense!

  2. Wow! The MP4-27 looks fast in LH’s hands. Pole and the fastest speed …. not bad at all. I must give credit to JB, he is trying his best atm.

  3. kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 22nd September 2012, 19:39

    Good job by Lewis. I hope that brush with the wall on his last run won’t come into play tomorrow.
    For Maldonado’s sake, i hope he will not be too ambitious into the first corner, and indeed the race also. It’ll be nice for him to bring home some good points, never mind that the stewards will be keeping a very beady eye on him tomorrow, and will be looking for an opportunity to give him his comeuppance.

    Regarding Lewis’s contract issue, can’t Witmarsh at least attempt to give an impression of being happy with Lewis’s pole? He looked utterly dejected. Things must really be abysmal at McLaren. For my own part, i believe Lewis’s relationship with Martin Whitmarsh, Jenson Button, some of his mechanics, and even Ron Dennis, has broken down irreparably. Hence, the frosty reception by Ron and Martin to Lewis’s win at Monza, and Lewis’s general demeanor at Monza and indeed Singapore.

    It really is my impression that either Lewis has already signed for Mercedes, or is leaving for an undisclosed team; hence his words after the Monza victory thanking the team and the engineers for the wonderful opportunity he was given. Sounds like a parting farewell to me.
    If he hasn’t signed for another team yet, he will be utterly stupid to stay at McLaren. He will never be a No.1 driver there (at least not while Whitmarsh continues his love in with Button), he is being offered 2/3rds of his current salary, and will always be continuously undermined.

    McLaren have a history of failing to manage very ambitious drivers – Senna, Montoya, Alonso, and Hamilton. Hell, they even problems with Kimi. It is as if there is an overiding obsession with controlling (from Ron, no doubt) drivers at all costs, and clipping the wings of drivers they see as overeaching there importance by any means necessary.
    His current salary offer is not simply due to the economic climate, but an attempt by Ron to bring Lewis down a peg or two. If anything, McLaren probably have backers with the deepest pockets in the whole of the padock.

    McLaren is certainly the best place for Button – he is not overly ambitious, toes the company line, and he plays the intra team politics quite well. If Lewis had any modicum of sense, he would leave; if he hasn’t done so already.

    • sdtaylor91 (@sdtaylor91) said on 23rd September 2012, 3:57

      You haven’t even mentioned the car …? Mclaren have the best car atm with minimal reg changes for 2013. That is worth something.

      Not sure if Lewis is the kind of driver that wants #1 rather than equal status. he’s already said he doesn’t like team orders even at end of season, he believes if you deserve title you should be ahead of your team mate anyways

    • Though I don’t disagree much with your views on the McLaren team structure I very much doubt that we will see Lewis leaving for 2013 already, the reason being that there is nowhere else to go. Lewis has said it over and over – in fact he has always said it – he just wants to win. Mercedes is in no state to win races and I just don’t believe that any figure on a pay check could ever make him interested in such an inferior team.

      Realistically he would consider offers only from Red Bull and Ferrari and while both Red Bull seats are already occupied I don’t believe any of us consider the remaining Ferrari seat much of an option anyway. Fernando already prematurely left a top team because of Lewis and would never allow Lewis as his team mate but I certainly doubt that Lewis would have much interest anyway. Of course it would be cool to see him prove an old point by beating Fernando as second fiddle but seriously – it’s not going to happen.

      The only remotely good option left would be Lotus but it would still seem like quite a step down – especially considering how McLaren has improved in the latter half of the season. In order for Lewis to switch to Lotus – or Mercedes for that matter – I think he would have to be VERY unhappy with his current position and if things are not perfect he doesn’t come across as unhappy to me. Heck, he even get’s along well with his non-egotistic team mate.

  4. Ginola14 (@ginola14) said on 22nd September 2012, 19:41

    Hopefully Raikkonen can salvage something like a podium from this race.
    If only to keep as many contenders around as possible for a final race decider.

  5. kbdavies (@kbdavies) said on 22nd September 2012, 19:44

    Regarding the safety car, if anyone can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s McLaren. I can just see them messing up strategy and focusing on getting Jenson through the pack, and even to win the race, rather than on consolidating Lewis’s position at the front.

    • Becken Lima (@becken-lima) said on 22nd September 2012, 20:24

      …Regarding the safety car, if anyone can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it’s McLaren. I can just see them messing up strategy and focusing on getting Jenson through the pack, and even to win the race, rather than on consolidating Lewis’s position at the front…

      I can´t agree more!

  6. TheNikii (@thenikii) said on 22nd September 2012, 20:12

    As long as Maldonado keeps calm and there isn’t any safety car before first pits it looks like pretty straight-forward win for Lewis.

  7. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 22nd September 2012, 20:19

    Hamilton will be Maldonado’d in the first corner.

  8. There will be a SC. So Hamilton needn’t put away the rabbits foot. But good gravy he looks quick. Button if he cant keep the tires on for a lap is in big trouble. Vet may make it interesting but he has got to deal with crashtor. Maybe its his turn now.

  9. Ant Rossi (@thechaser) said on 22nd September 2012, 20:47

    Superb pole by Hamilton but credit to Maldonado seriously. The guy has speed and will fight for the first corner.. Let’s hope it doesn’t end in tears.. I can imagine will be on tip-toes….

  10. DC (@dujedcv) said on 22nd September 2012, 21:01

    Does anyone think that Maldonado is similar to Jody Scheckter in terms of driving style (causing huge crashes and not giving a single ****) ?

    • maldanado is in his second season in F1, Jody Scheckter is a world champion, Scheckter wouldnt have become champion by causing crashes, anyway maldanado doesnt cause crashes, hes just involved in crashes no F1 driver wants to crash on purpose

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 23rd September 2012, 4:04

      Totally agree with this. Jody causing carnage at Silverstone 1973 comes to mind. Like Jody, Pastor has the pace. But also like Jody, he needs to calm down to turn that into a title-winning campaign.

      • @journeyer
        Serious question but why do people keep saying Pastor “has the pace”?

        Because he’s on the front row? What’s to say that in someone else’s hands that car wouldn’t have been on pole?

        The reality is that we have nothing to judge Pastor’s pace against. Bruno, despite his name and $$$, is not a Formula 1 level driver ESPECIALLY around Singapore. In 2010 was Senna not more than a second a lap slower around here than his teammate, who was just starting his first race for years: Christian Klien?

        I am HIGHLY suspicious that in different hands that Williams could be challenging for the championship like Raikkonnen is in the Lotus. The fact that they are behind Force India is simply outrageous, and is entirely due to the gulf in talent of those two teams’ drivers.

        I don’t expect to see Maldonada or Senna racing in Formula 1 next year.

        • Himmat Singh. said on 23rd September 2012, 8:58

          Dude, trust me if Williams really thought the car has much more pace than Maldonado has demonstrated on his best days, Senna would’ve been long gone. Really. I mean, do you want $5mil or a continuous existence at the front and get race win bonuses? So, I think you’re wrong about Maldonado. Williams are the sixth fastest team in F1 currently (maybe 5th just ahead of Mercedes) and Maldonado is a fast driver. Australia, Spain, Valencia and Singapore is a testament to that. He just has to remain consistent and level headed and I think he’d move to Ferrari someday.

        • @mhop

          I am HIGHLY suspicious that in different hands that Williams could be challenging for the championship like Raikkonnen is in the Lotus. The fact that they are behind Force India is simply outrageous, and is entirely due to the gulf in talent of those two teams’ drivers.

          A championship would be a big ask but I do agree with you. That Williams is a genuinely good car as proved by Maldonado’s race win, but they have lost so many points due to numerous crashes and silly incidents. Senna has been a bit more consistent recently but he hasn’t been as fast.

          Just working it out in my head, Pastor could be 10th in the championship and Williams could have been nibbling at Sauber’s heels in the constructors. But if Barrichello had remained with the team this season, they could have been much further up.

  11. All I have to say is that many of the cars behind Hamilton might be better or equal in race trim . Just remember Hungary impressive pole but not so much in the race. Vetted and the lotuses were faster than him. He won because the track layout helped him.

    • I think that Lewis was cruising in Hungary because there was no way that Raikkonen, Grosjean or Vettel could pass him.
      Mclaren should be fine in race trim, especially after Hamilton’s impressive long run yesterday.

    • I think you understate the importance of pole in a narrow street circuit. And also in the context of these Pirelli’s. Do you suppose cars chasing ones in front of them will have a better degradation than whoever will be in front?

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd September 2012, 22:41

    So it was oversteer for Kobayashi then. I was wondering what his problem, it looked quite severe.

  13. Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 23rd September 2012, 6:27

    Smells like 2008 in here….Hamilton is marching towards a championship that seems to be his destiny.

  14. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 23rd September 2012, 7:12

    I’m guessing plan A for the top 8 will be two stops, SS, soft, soft. But it may be important to keep the super softs for longer than 10 laps. In Monaco, Webber demonstrated that by driving slowly, you can keep the super softs quite long, although Singapore seems much harder on the tyres. In case a switch to a three-stopper becomes necessary, it’s a shame for McLaren that they (and Lewis) didn’t dare to let Hamilton sit out the second run in Q3. Yes, Vettel was still a threat despite his rubbish first run, but were they really expecting Lewis to better his first run? Perhaps he should have taken a leaf out of Prost’s book by donning jeans and walking around the pit lane saying: well, if he manages to beat this time, then he deserves the pole.

    With regard to Pirelli’s expectation that the super soft may be the better tyre because of the big performance difference, I doubt this will actually turn out to be the case. In FP2, I think very few managed to get even a second good lap out of the super softs; a performance advantage over a single lap is pretty useless. Also, will the track rubbering in favour the less grippy soft tyres?

  15. Tony M (@tango11) said on 23rd September 2012, 8:05

    Hamilton to win WDC from Alonso in Brazil by overtaking Massa on last corner?

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.