Vettel flies to pole as Ferrari and Red Bull beat Mercedes

2015 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

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The biggest surprise of qualifying in Singapore wasn’t just that Mercedes were beaten, but that they were conclusively beaten.

Sebastian Vettel led the way as Ferrari and Red Bull ejected the silver cars from the front two rows. He looked on course for pole position from his very first lap in Q1, and ended up almost half a second clear of the entire field.

Ferrari therefore took pole position for the first time in over three years.


A scorching effort from Vettel on soft tyres, producing a 1’46.0174, left him confident he could make it through to the second round without another run. His team mate failed to get within nine-tenths of a second and was among those who had to go again.

Raikkonen stuck with the soft tyres for his second run, as did Daniel Ricciardo,and both secured passage into Q2. But both Mercedes drivers had to switch to the softer rubber, confirming the impression from practice that the silver cars were not on the leading pace.

The Lotus cars looked a handful: Romain Grosjean went wide at turn seven and Pastor Maldonado got crossed up in the new section of track crossing the Andersen bridge. The latter failed to make the cut, almost half a second off his team mate’s pace.

He was accompanied by the two Manor drivers, who were further away from the pace than usual: Will Stevens was over three-and-a-half seconds away from the next car, with new team mate Alexander Rossi a further half-second behind.

Jenson Button used super-soft tyres for both his runs and the last proved quick enough to earn him a place in Q2, leaving both the Sauber drivers behind.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Felipe NasrSauber-Ferrari1’46.965
17Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’47.088
18Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Mercedes1’47.323
19Will StevensManor-Ferrari1’51.021
20Alexander RossiManor-Ferrari1’51.523


Raikkonen slashed his deficit to Vettel in Q3, getting within four-tenths of the other Ferrari on his first run. Still it was Vettel who led the way, the pair separated by Daniil Kvyat.

Max Verstappen got his Toro Rosso into the top ten on his first visit to Singapore but Carlos Sainz Jnr asked too much of his car’s rear traction at turn 19, clipping the barrier and breaking his suspension and front wing.

With debris on the racing line and yellow flags covering the danger area, the remaining drivers were unable to improve. It was bad news for Force India and McLaren, particularly the latter who harboured hopes of a more competitive showing in Singapore.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’46.305
12Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Honda1’46.328
13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’46.385
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso-Renault1’46.894
15Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Honda1’47.019

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Ricciardo came out fighting in the pole position shoot-out and on the strength of his first run it looked as though he might give his former team mate some competition.

But his final run didn’t go according to plan: first Williams released Valtteri Bottas in front of him as he left the pits, and despite backing off to find space for his flying lap he lost time at the beginning of his run and never managed to take it back.

Raikkonen fell short of beating him by two tenths of a second and nearly lost third to the other Red Bull of Kvyat.

The Mercedes drivers began the top ten shoot-out on used super-soft tyres, but Hamilton chose to abort his run. His single effort on new tyres began well, but he lost over half a second to Kvyat in the final sector alone, suggesting Mercedes were indeed struggling for tyre life in the traction-heavy final sector, possibly due to the latest tyre pressure restrictions.

Rosberg took up his customary position just behind Hamilton, and Max Verstappen claimed eighth place despite running very wide on his final lap.

Top ten in Q3

1Sebastian VettelFerrari1’43.885
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’44.428
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’44.667
4Daniil KvyatRed Bull-Renault1’44.745
5Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’45.300
6Nico RosbergMercedes1’45.415
7Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’45.676
8Max VerstappenToro Rosso-Renault1’45.798
9Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’46.077
10Romain GrosjeanLotus-Mercedes1’46.413

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2015 Singapore Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    77 comments on “Vettel flies to pole as Ferrari and Red Bull beat Mercedes”

    1. Great qualifying, finally a qualifying with actual excitement this season. Vettel, wow.
      What a waste for Sainz, finally no engine penalties or technical issues, finally a chance to get points, and he bins it. His team-mate, on the other hand, wow. Pushing it brilliantly on such an unforgiving track, new to him too. Still needs to be reigned in a bit, that tank-slapper at the end…
      Race tomorrow is going to be absolutely great.

    2. Is it tyre pressures affecting the Mercedes??

      1. Sure is something tire related, probably something more than that?
        No grip and rapid degradation if I understood Lewis correctly…

      2. There is no evidence that their pressures were different or abnormal before. They were measured at a different time relative to the removal of tire blankets vis a vis Ferrari at Monza. This keeps coming up including in the broadcasts but there is no tire pressure issue with Mercedes. It was an ideal gas law derp by the FIA and Pirelli.

        Today they just missed the set up. It happens. Remember a couple years ago Mercedes had very peculiar performance with tires. They would be quick but destroy their tires briskly. They struggled with this for a whole season. In fact they were a bit of a joke in that they were never a threat for the win despite front row starts. Much like Toyota before them. They finally cracked this issue and people stopped laughing. But that is to say F1 is hard and sometimes you just get it wrong and can’t figure it out.

    3. Great lap from Vettel. He is really good on this type of track where much is down to put the car on the right places.

    4. Looks like the Merc advantage is now almost entirely in the engine department. They better pull the finger out.

    5. Stunning lap(s) from Seb. A well-deserved pole.

    6. I wonder when was the last time Ferrari had a pole after the summer break.

      1. Probably Singapore 2010

      2. Singapore 2010, this was also their last dry pole.

        1. Yeah, Ferrari always quite liked this track. But 5 years…Wow.

    7. Anyway if this is a foreshadowing of next season, with RBR and Ferrari much closer to Mercedes, and maybe a competitive engine in dark horses STR too… Next season might be fun.

      1. I was thinking the same thing…

        Also if Haas has a decent debut – perhaps with JEV? and McLaren Honda get their engine program together the midfield might be quite exciting as well.

    8. Did Alonso speed under the yellow flags? Because i saw he jumped Perez…. Great laps by Seb, Daniel and Kimi! Let’s hope for an even more competitive race

      1. I thought he lost a few tenths because of the Yellows, which is a tragedy, because it looked like he could take that garbage truck into Q3

        1. Exactly! I think tomorrow he is going to be in the top 7 easily if he doesn’t have any penalties and contacts

    9. I wrote yesterday that whatever it was that the Williams were trying, it wasn’t working. Their pace today was appalling.
      In Q3, the Mercedes engines were unable to walk ahead of the Ferraris and the Renaults…

      1. I think Massa will be disappointed with his lap, but I don’t think Williams will be too disappointed overall. Given that it’s the type of track they’ve been struggling at so far this year, the fact that they both made Q3 and have pretty much beaten everyone they could hope to beat in qualifying is not such a bad result.

    10. Fikri Harish (@)
      19th September 2015, 15:34

      Grabbing pole position isn’t the most important thing to do.

      The priority is to completely rub it in other drivers’ faces by nailing your second run and be the only man to break into the 1m 43s barrier.

      Props to Verstappen for nailing Singapore the first time he’s here.
      I expected more from Kvyat actually.

    11. The difference in car pace between the last race and this is amazing, it’s one of the biggest that I ever remember. I wonder what makes this circuit so unique.

      1. I don’t think this is circuit related as Mercedes was on pole here last year. Lewis and Nico have already said they couldn’t get the tires to work, so my best guess is that the new tire pressures are hurting Mercedes.

        1. Lauda talked about the tyre pressure earlier. He said might not be that.

        2. Last year’s Merc pole here was very bad, the lap poor and scruffy, not a total domination like it usually is.

        3. even Niki Lauda said it has nothing to do with tire pressures, they have always stayed very close to the recommended pressures,
          its all to do with the set-up, they have had this problem before on slower tracks, it needs sorting ASAP….

        4. Lauda knows nothing about what’s going on. He claimed the tyre pressure was different compared to last year in Monza, but not here. That’s not true.

      2. Modified layout accounts for some difference I’m sure.

    12. welcome to the era of artificially ‘mixing up the grid’ via controlling the tyres.

    13. A car as dominant as the Mercedes suddenly being more than a second off the pace without any apparent reason!
      I do not understand this very easily and I am still waiting for an answer.

    14. We all know that Vettel is the master of winning from the leading position, so if he can get a clean start tomorrow and stay ahead at the end of the first lap, his chance of winning is pretty high.

      In Singapore the racing line is straightforward from pole position, which is partly why no pole sitters ever lost his position in the first lap in Singapore. However, the new start procedure has troubled a few, especially Kimi Raikkonen. So I can’t wait to lights out at Marina Bay.

      Word is you can do 2 or 3 stops here. Since Ferrari and Red Bull all did good jobs on tyre management this season, plus a really high chance of a safety car which will extend tyre life, plus the difficulty of overtaking here. I’m assuming top runners will all be running 2-stop. So maybe no strategy variation is in play.

      1. “the new start procedure has troubled a few, especially Kimi Raikkonen”
        This is completely false, Kimi said his bad start at Monza had nothing to do with the new procedures.

    15. Does this result put an end to the Hamilton-Senna stories? Because that would actually be a very welcome development.

      1. Wait till his next pole for the talks to begin again :(

        1. About 1 weeks time i would reckon.

      2. @nase

        I really hope so. Those were getting old. Besides, Senna had 41 race wins in 158 starts. Vettel tied that with a few races to spare and hardly a word spoken. He has a good change of breaking that record tomorrow.

        1. VERY good point. I have always considered Vettel more closer to Senna then Hamilton. Vettel started in an inferior car like Senna and worked his way up, while Hamilton started in the best car. Vettel has dominated teammates in a more senna esque way then Hamilton – and other drivers in similar equipped cars (2009-2012). Vettel has also been a qualifying hero like Senna. the Senna to Hamilton comparisons were only ever around because Hamilton chose the yellow Senna helmet and kept talking about Senna as his idol.

          1. What? I have yet to see him up against two different WDC’s. Hamilton has spent four of his nine seasons with WDC’s the other side of the garage and come out ahead three of the four. I don’t remember Senna getting spanked by a new team mate in the way Vettel did in 2014 by Ricciardo.

            I love Vettel but this season he is up against a washed up Raikonnnen. Spare the car rubbish and lets just acknowledge that we are lucky to be watching F1 in era with so many exceptional drivers on the grid.

      3. I hope so. I may even throw a party tonight because of that… which of course mean rewatching last race Hamilton and Senna raced together – Interlagos 2012.

        1. :D I couldn’t understand that for a moment. Hilarious!

    16. Echoes of Vettel past domination… Suddenly F1 is exciting again! :D

    17. Damn!!! The first qualifying in a long time which was exciting, and I missed it… Great to see a non-Merc on pole finally. This season was turning out to be an absolutel turn off. Hope Vettel does a pole to flag tomorrow…

      1. Sorry, but that “pole to flag” would be exciting still ? I feel that some people just missed Vettel dominancy then competition for win.

        1. Agreed, I hope for a proper battle at the front between the Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s. It would be great to see one of Red Bull’s win.

      2. it will be just as boring no one passing anyone,
        those that dont hit the wall and are in the right place when the safety car comes out may get the jump on someone other than that it will be round and round we go,

        what would be interesting is if RBR win this race will Ferrari give them the latest engine next year?

        the next question is will RBR say they are ahead of Merc due only to their capable chassis?
        which in turn means they pedal powered “like Flintstones” the whole race not a mention of Renault will be heard?

        1. “Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?”


    18. Vettel has always been good with the Asian leg starting from Singapore and today he just did what he used to do in previous years. But 1:43.885 was an astounding lap. I never expect to see anyone below 1:44

    19. To those that got a little upset with my comment a day or so ago…

      Would you agree that LH, his hair colour and the medias attempt to ‘paint him Senna’ is actually completely irrelevant – the fact is as I said in my post, by such fine things as tyre pressures and tyre type do winning cars rely on.

      And a slight change to the out of ordinary and suddenly everyone’s back happy again because just a year into their ‘dominant’ position Merc are mid field and wow look lots of people can beat them.

      Fickle beyond F1 types, fickle beyond.

      You can have a go at me when they or LH win 9 straight through tyre advantages pointed out by the guy that makes them as the likely result at the start of the year…

      Until then – well in other news one of Mercs hair styles is still yellow.

      1. Yeah, we’re fickle. I liked it when Mercedes started winning but that got even more boring than Red Bull. Now I just want anyone to beat the Mercs

      2. It’s difficult to decode what you are actually trying to say here, it seems you feel that lots of people thought LH’s hair colour made him go quicker? I mean, if people really were saying that yesterday, firstly can you link so I may laugh at them and secondly, you are correct, his hair colour has no performance gain.

        I guess, his hair is relevant to kids today, kids who will grow up wanting to emulate him, kids who thinbk he’s cool, love his fashion sense and love reading about him – in much the same way when we were kids, we loved reading about our idols – James hunt was rarely out of the papers for his drinking and partying, my parents heartily disapproved yet I loved him.

        So LH’s hair will be relevant in about 15 years time, when some young brit is challenging for his first title citing growing up watching Hamilton and wanting to emulate his hero.

      3. who sets the car up Drg? the mechanics right?

        what do’s Lewis do? he drives the car right?

        he can only get the best out of what he is given, they make small adjustments to suit his driving style but the major set-up is done by his mechanics,
        if they get it wrong then the car is not going to win…

      4. Like I said previously – LH is an incredible talent, hair colour notwithstanding, just like Senna and others, and my comment was quite simple. By incredibly fine margins do these cars run effectively and efficiently. I get a little fed up with the ‘domination’ discussions and how he said he ‘was like Senna’ but has yellow hair type etc etc commentary. And then shoot down anyone who might suggest different.

        Look at just how exciting this thing is and how it can spin on a six pence (small coin for the ‘yuf’) a softer tyre change, a different track and the word ‘domination’ suddenly applies to other teams.

        It may well be that in a given year Merc know a particular race is not theirs (odd given Petronus?) but perhaps the overall benefit and design for the year is to work on the harder range tyres more, I don’t know but I do know that nothing is a given and I will enjoy seeing them fight it out tomorrow but please please – when SV wins by 50 seconds or so… I really hope the usual folk are back here commenting on how easy it is at the front and suggest he cannot possibly be driver of the weekend because it’s the car/engine/teammate/hair colour/too much partying etc… :)

        Or shall we just enjoy good racing..

        I really hope so.

        1. ColdFly F1 ( @coldfly ) (@)
          19th September 2015, 18:49

          Drg, I find your posts quite difficult to follow!

          Maybe you want to post it again tomorrow ;-)
          But add a few ‘full stops’ please.

        2. Sooooo…. You think now Ferrari are dominating? lmao

    20. I think Mercedes have been having little problems with tyre life a lot of this season but managed to get away with this weak point because of the overall performance of their car. Today it really came home to roost. But on one lap? that’s crazy for the tyres to go off by sector 3. They need to find out what is causing it because the other teams will catch up next season and it could be their un-doing.
      As for Lewis tomorrow, he needs to do damage limitation and finish in front of Nico. A podium would be a bonus but don’t go mad looking for overtakes – just do better than Nico. I’d be surprised if Seb doesn’t win this at a canter.

      1. Well said – it’s a problem they have had since 2013 and it looks like it’s really biting them on certain tracks.

        Just like VR in MotoGP last week. LH needs to keep it whole and just be in front of his team mate but it’s Singapore and thus a complete lottery that has hurt him here more than once…

    21. The most refreshing weekend of the season continues and gets even more cool! I am so glad to see the end of Hamilton show. I hope Lewis would survive a few days without headlines about his private life. Haha.

      1. What – you don’t want a race tomorrow then?

        Just anyone but LH ‘dominating’?

        How is that different?

        Anyway – I hope it serves up a good thorough race rather than an 08 entertainment type show :)

        1. Well. Only a Hamilton fan could understand that the Michal guy wants “anybody but Hamilton to dominate” from that comment. Congratz!

    22. So HOW have Ferrari managed to blow their diffuser?

    23. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! - @omarr-pepper (@)
      19th September 2015, 17:04

      Who broke Lewis’s streak of poles? Seb
      Who can break Senna’s record of wins tomorrow? Seb
      Let’s hope it happens!!!

      1. That’d be quite the turn of events…

    24. Really exciting qualifying! I guess if Vettel leads into the first corner he should be able to take the win comfortably. If a Red Bull somehow ends up in front of him, we’ll have a race on our hands.

      Also, I know it’s not known for producing memorable races, but I love the Singapore track. Very much stop-start, lots of braking into the corner, walls very close to the track, very bumpy.. it’s just very different from other tracks. I was sceptical about the change they made to turn 11, but I really like that as well, definitely one of the most challenging corner sequences on the track, if not on the entire F1 calendar. I’m really excited for tomorrow!

      1. Yeah I love watching the race here. Horrifyingly marvelous!

    25. What Vettel did to Hamilton and Mercedes in Singapore was plain cruel.

    26. I think Allison needs credit here! That Ferrari front is finally looking like its on rails. The turn in is just so effortless it seems and the car is very very stable.

      You can tell Vettel is happy with the car! good for them finally!

    27. Nailing a lap around Singapore has always been about preserving tyre life enough to get a good S3. I think it’s one of the biggest hurdles to overcome here.

      It does seem that the performance of the Mercedes dropped off a lot more than others throughout the lap. Reminds me of Williams last year which doesn’t bode well for the race either.

      The whole situation feels odd though as keeping tyres in the right range has been their strong point this year, with S3 at Barcelona and the last corner at Silverstone being cited as examples of still extracting the most out of the tyres at the end of the lap.

      Is it possible they made a terrible error with the spec they brought to Singapore or is it simply tyre pressures? It certainly seems a case of them losing performance rather than the other teams gaining on them.

      Merc will split their strategies and upset one of the drivers. I also envision Ricciardo coming together with a Ferrari in pursuit of the only victory Red Bull are likely to come close to tgis season. I just hope Merc don’t inherit the win because of it.

      1. I definitely agree on last part!

    28. Absolutely stunning lap, definitely up there with Hamilton’s Spa lap and it was so nice to hear a driver genuinely excited with a result over the radio, don’t think I’ve heard that level of enthusiasm since Ricciardo’s wins last season. I do hope he’s learned some new Italian for when he wins tomorrow though.

      Anyone know who has the TV rights for Arrivabene’s barefoot run on the hills of Maranello?

    29. 1.4 secs quicker than the most dominant car in F1 history. Senna would be proud of Vettel.

      1. Senna would be even proud of Ricardo for exposing an over rated driver.

        1. @manas – Vettel is a 4 time champ with 40+ wins who is one of the all time greats. Deal with it.

        2. Vettel Overrated? Hmmm. OK. he had one bad year, it happens to the best from all sports Ali, Messi etc.

          BTW, RBR is superior to Ferrari in traction and aerodynamics and for Vettel to blast away his closest opponent by half a second is sublime.

        3. @manas Thanks for making me laugh

    30. Great lap from Vettel. Credit where it’s due, that was a stunner.

    31. Well that’s nice that Mercedes dominance is over. That would be exciting for the next 6 races

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