Date: 22nd September 2013 at 3:34pm
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Sebastian Vettel has eased himself to his 41st career pole around the illuminated Marina Bay Street Circuit

Sebastian Vettel has eased himself to his 41st career pole around the illuminated Marina Bay Street Circuit for Sunday?s Singapore Grand Prix, and will start the race alongside fellow countryman Nico Rosberg. The second row will consist of Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber.

After three intriguing practice sessions throughout the weekend, the teams and drivers returned to the glorious street circuit for the all-important qualifying hour. With Sebastian Vettel looking once again unstoppable in his Red Bull, many were entering the qualifying session keen on reeling in the reigning Champion. The opening segment of the session began with no immediate rush onto the circuit, before Pastor Maldonado opened the floodgates and finally took to the circuit.

The Venezuelan ace produced the first timed lap of the session for Williams with a 01:48.458, which was almost instantly thwarted by the Lotus of Romain Grosjean and then the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, with the latter setting a 01:47.087 at the front. Despite many drivers opting for Pirelli?s medium tyre compound to begin with, the Marussias and Caterhams unsurprisingly became the first four drivers to switch to the super-soft tyre, in a bid to improve towards the rear of the order.

As the opening segment of the qualifying hour progressed, the times at the top tumbled as the likes of Nico Rosberg, Nico Hulkenberg and Mark Webber rose to the top with the latter managing to string together a 01:45.271 behind the wheel of his Renault-powered Red Bull. It wasn?t long before the remainder of the field gradually began to switch to Pirelli?s super-soft tyre compound, with Nico Rosberg and then Sergio Perez rising to the top with the latter producing a 01:45.164 on the softer rubber. The benchmark was lowered even further as the session drew to a conclusion, as Jenson Button and then Lewis Hamilton rose to the top.

Further down the order saw Felipe Massa only narrowly avoid elimination in his Ferrari, as the Brazilian driver only just managed to rise up the order as the checkered flag emerged. This saw Paul di Resta and Pastor Maldonado join the usual suspects in elimination towards the rear of the pack, with the Caterhams? out-qualifying the Marussias?

After only several minutes recuperation for the teams and drivers lucky enough to progress to the next segment, the track returned to green flag conditions as Kimi Raikkonen eventually left the confines of the pit-lane despite reports of back pains for the 2007 World Champion. This naturally saw the Lotus ace produce the first timed lap of the segment with a 01:44.794, which was eventually bettered by the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg with a 01:43.892. After several minutes the Red Bull duo took to the circuit, resulting in Sebastian Vettel asserting his authority over proceedings with a dominant 01:42.905. Mark Webber slotted neatly into 2nd position behind his team-mate, creating a Red Bull 1-2 at the front.

As the second segment drew to a conclusion Esteban Gutierrez shot to an impressive 7th for Sauber, rising himself out of the drop zone which eventually saw the likes of Nico Hulkenberg and Kimi Raikkonen get eliminated along with the likes of Jean-Eric Vergne, Sergio Perez, Adrian Sutil and Valtteri Bottas. Jenson Button was also lucky to rise into the all-important top ten shootout, after the Briton saved his one and only lap until the final stages of the segment.

As the remaining ten drivers prepared for the all-important top ten shootout, many were predicting Sebastian Vettel to secure his 41st pole position around the illuminated Marina Bay Street Circuit. As soon as the track turned green, five drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel streamed out onto the track to begin battling for pole position. However, Sebastian Vettel immediately silenced the opposition with a 01:42.841, which remained unbeaten as the final ten minutes drew to a conclusion. The German trundled back to the pits and then climbed out of his Red Bull machine, evidently content that his time would remain unchallenged.

Although the remaining nine drivers proceeded to complete another timed lap, they were unable to question Sebastian Vettel?s authority. Both Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean managed to produce purple sectors, but were ultimately unable to string together a faster lap than the reigning World Champion. Nico Rosberg will join his fellow countryman on the front-row of the grid for the 61-lap race, with the second row consisting of Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel has won the last two Singapore Grands Prix for Red Bull, and is a clear favorite to secure a hat-trick of victories around the Marina Bay Street Circuit during tomorrow?s 61-lap race. However, the intense heat, high rate of attrition and high safety car probabilities means a Sebastian Vettel victory is by far a foregone conclusion.

Author: Andy Young

TWITTER: @AndyYoungF1


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