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?t 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

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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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

  1. PeterA said on 23rd September 2012, 8:19

    Lots of variables coming into the race: weather; safety cars; Maldanaldo! (hopefully after double penalty at Spa he will be sensible). Expecting Alonso to be ahead of Button by first corner. Tyres may last longer today as happened before on race day. Always seem to be a Q2 casualty who does well, when spare new tyres are a premium look out for RAI! Really looking forward to this race.

  2. Himmat Singh. said on 23rd September 2012, 9:00

    I think Maldonado might do an upset here: drive a clean race and hound Lewis throughout, getting the undercut at the 2nd round of pitstops. I know, far-fetched, but my prediction anyways.

    Battle for 3rd will be led by Vettel, but I think we might see Kimi, Romain or Michael get 3rd after some crazy accident or safety car intervention.

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