Hamilton the man to catch in Singapore

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

Motor Sport:Lewis Hamilton grabbed his third pole in four races to further fire up his Formula One world championship chances. After winning from pole in Hungary and Italy of late, Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix at the front of the grid in his McLaren alongside gatecrasher Pastor Maldonado in his Williams.

It is the first time since 1999 McLaren have claimed four successive pole positions, with Hamilton now in prime spot for his fourth win this year as he aims to close the 37-point gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

Alonso will start fifth, with reigning champion Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull and McLaren’s Jenson Button also ahead of him on the grid. Vettel won this race from pole last year and had been quickest in all three practice sessions, but had no answer to Hamilton’s lap of one minute 46.362 seconds, the Briton finishing half a second up on Maldonado.

Force India’s Paul Di Resta conjured a superb sixth, with Red Bull’s Mark Webber seventh but under investigation and facing a five-place penalty for impeding Marussia’s Timo Glock in Q1, whilst Lotus’ Romain Grosjean starts eighth.

On the fifth row will be Mercedes’ duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, neither driver setting a time after using up all three sets of their supersoft tyres in the first two sessions. Nico Hulkenberg found himself ousted from Q2 at the death by the last man on track in Schumacher, leaving the younger German to start 11th in his Force India.

Another title contender Kimi Raikkonen, third in the standings and 38 points behind Alonso, could only manage 12th in his Lotus, claiming he had no grip from his tyres. For the ninth time in 14 qualifying sessions this season Felipe Massa failed to make it into the top 10, lining up 13th for Ferrari.

Sauber’s Sergio Perez, second just a fortnight ago in Italy, starts 14th ahead of Toro Rosso pair Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Williams’ Bruno Senna will start 17th after he smacked a wall with his right-rear wheel, breaking the suspension and taking no further action in the session.

Just two races after starting on the front row in Belgium, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was the big-name scalp who failed to make it out of Q1, blaming a lack of confidence with an over-steering car in which he will line up 18th. In team order, Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov managed to out-qualify Heikki Kovalainen, with the duo starting 19th and 20th.

At Marussia, Glock finished ahead of Charles Pic, who tomorrow will have 20 seconds added to his race time after passing four red lights and overtaking a rival in final practice. In a unique move the stewards have also ordered Pic to perform a day of community service for the FIA’s Action for Road Safety campaign.

On the back row are HRT duo Narain Karthikeyan and Pedro de la Rosa, the latter’s five-place penalty for a gearbox change an irrelevance.

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