Saturday, 20 September 2014

Seven 1-2 front row lock out's for the season so far as the Silver Arrows shine under lights in Singapore

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Mercedes Lewis Hamilton took pole position by the narrowest of margins from team mate and championship leader and main rival Nico Rosberg by just 0.007s to give the Brackley based outfit their seven 1-2 front row lock of the season. The team have now had front row starts for both cars for 50 percent of the Grand Prix this season.

It was Lewis Hamilton's second consecutive pole position and his fifth of the season. The 2008 world champion will be hoping to translate that into victory. He took the win here with McLaren in 2009. He will also be hoping to close the 22 point deficit that he has to Nico Rosberg in the championship with six race's to go this season. Speaking following the session, Hamilton commented:

'That was one of the most exciting qualifying sessions I can remember. I lost a lot of time at the beginning of my last lap and at that point I thought pole was lost. But I just kept going and managed to pull some time back. As a driver, through the weekend you plan to have the last lap in qualifying as your best. By that time the track has improved and you should have the settings as close to their optimum as they’re going to get. But there was so much happening out there and I was just trying not to look at what was going on around me. 

I was surprised by how close everyone was - the Red Bulls and Ferraris looked quick all day – and it was really fun to be a part of that session. The team have done a fantastic job to bring the car here, to a circuit where downforce is so important, and be at the front once again, so a big thank you to them. 

It´s going to be a tough race tomorrow. Coming into the weekend we had an opinion about how the tyres would behave, but the long runs yesterday changed all that. Trying to manage them will be a big challenge but hopefully it will be an entertaining one for the fans. I’m on the clean side of the track so I’m hoping for a clean start and a strong race.'

Nico Rosberg will hoping to go one step more following his second place finish at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza last time out where he finished the race in second place behind Lewis Hamilton. If Rosberg does go onto to take victory in Singapore tomorrow it would be the German's first victory since his home race at the German Grand Prix in July.

Speaking following the session, Rosberg said:

'In general that was the most difficult qualifying session of my career so far. It was really tough to find my rhythm. I had to change my brakes for qualifying and then had to find the right balance in the early runs which was a struggle. I just thought, “that’s it, you will be 6th or 7th”. 

Then, at the end, I was really happy with the balance and feeling good. When I heard that Lewis was that tiny margin quicker I thought “damn”! I directly reviewed my lap and thought there were so many places to gain seven thousandths of a second – especially in the last corner. But in the end he did seven thousandths of a better job today, so fair play to him. P2 is still good for tomorrow’s race and I’m focused on having a good start. 

Last year I overtook Sebastian at Turn One, so it’s definitely possible to win from here. It’s going to be all about managing the tyres and I learned some good lessons in my long runs yesterday, so I hope it will be an exciting race for the fans.'

Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff was delighted with how the session went saying:

'That qualifying session was great to watch and a strong advert for Formula One. From our point of view, it’s clear that we don’t enjoy the advantage here that we have had on previous weekends. 

But this is a unique circuit and to produce a car which can be fast at every venue on the calendar is a big task, so we must be very pleased with a 1-2 front-row lockout. Our performance this weekend so far hasn’t been totally consistent and that is what we will need tomorrow evening. 

But the demands of racing are different to those of a single lap. I’m optimistic that we are capable of performing well when it comes to managing the energy levels, the fuel and the brakes in the race. So, a good job today but still a lot to do tomorrow.'

Mercedes Executive Technical Director Paddy Lowe stated:

'We came to Singapore expecting drama and that’s exactly what we got – and it’s not even Sunday yet! It’s great to have locked out the front row after a very tense session. 

It was all about putting a lap together with the tyres in the right condition and we weren’t managing to do that consistently during the session. It all came down to the final laps – with Lewis and Nico in P6 and P7 respectively – and they each delivered phenomenal performances. 

Well done to both of them. Looking to tomorrow, we know there are still many challenges to overcome. We need to get through the first corner cleanly, make the right calls in the race and history has shown that a Safety Car period is almost inevitable at some point. There is still a very long way to go – but we’re starting from the best possible positions.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

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