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POLE-SITTER HAMILTON PREDICTS GREAT RACE FOR SINGAPORE FANS
Singapore, 20 September - Lewis Hamilton kept up the pressure on his World Championship-leading Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by seizing pole position for Sunday’s 2014 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Hamilton, 29, took his third Singapore pole, his sixth of the season and the 37th of his Formula One™ career in a thrilling last-gasp shoot-out with Rosberg, who went top of the time sheets for a matter of moments before Hamilton’s time of 1 minute 45.681 pipped the German by just seven-thousandths of a second.
“I think it’s going to be a great race for the fans to watch,” said the 29-year-old Englishman, who stressed the difficulty of managing Pirelli’s tyre options – soft and supersoft – in Sunday’s 61 lap race. “Looking after these tyres is not going to be easy,” added the 2009 Singapore winner. “There will be a lot going on…”
Red Bull Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo will line up third after out-qualifying teammate and three-time Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel for the first time in four races, while two-time Singapore winner Fernando Alonso put his Ferrari into fifth place on the grid.
For most of the one-hour qualifying session, divided into three segments, it was Alonso’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen who set the pace, topping the 15-minute first segment, but the Finn’s hopes were dashed by a car failure in the final 10-minute segment when he was told “We have to stop”.
Fighting back from a lacklustre start to the weekend, Williams Mercedes saw Felipe Massa – the only man other than a Mercedes diver to be on pole this season – claim the second spot on the third row of the grid.
With Raikkonen’s best time still good enough for seventh, he is joined on row four by the second Willimas of Valtteri Bottas, with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat rounding out the top 10 starters.
Earlier in the evening it was Ferraris that caught the eye – in more ways than one. First of all Fernando Alonso, as always, defied the perceived shortcomings of the Scuderia’s current F1 car by going quickest in the final free practice session before qualifying.
Alonso, whose car underwent a gearbox change overnight, waited until halfway through the one-hour session before coming out on track but then went quickest on 1:47.799, just 0.051 ahead of Red Bull Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo as World Championship leader Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes could manage only third.
Immediately after the session ended the President of Singapore, Dr. Tony Tan Keng Yam flagged away a field of 25 Ferrari road cars in the President’s Challenge, a series of parade laps by Ferrari owners who each made a contribution to the President’s Charity in return for the thrill of driving on the same track as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raïkkönen.
The spectacular convoy, led by former Grand Prix driver Pedro de la Rosa, included four examples of Ferrari’s F12berlinetta, perhaps the ultimate demonstration of the iconic Italian marque’s front-engined V12 road cars.
Also represented were several 458 Italia, Spider and Speciale models as well as single examples of the California, the 360 Modena, the 599 GTB Fiorano and 430 Spider. The President’s Charity has raised more than half a million Singapore dollars to date through the contributions from the drivers participating in the President’s Challenge.