FERRARI, RED BULL DENY MERCEDES

Sebastian Vettel stunned the Marina Bay crowd with his first pole for Ferrari and third in Singapore. Photo Paul Khoo/RWIND

FERRARI AND Red Bull hit the form book in qualifying for the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix yesterday, shutting Mercedes out of the first two rows.

Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen booked the first and third places for the Italian team, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat took second and fourth. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton and title rival and teammate were only good enough for the next two spots in the third row.

But on the brutally punishing 23 turns of the Marina Bay street track the results were not totally unexpected. It does not favour the Mercedes straight line speed and levelled the playing field.

“It’s a surprise – I thought they were sandbagging (driving slowly) yesterday, also this morning,” said Vettel of the Mercedes pair.

“There is no doubt they have the strongest package this year. They must have some issues, that’s the only explanation. But I wouldn’t rule them out tomorrow. I’m sure Mercedes will be quick.

“It’s not the easiest circuit to overtake on but if you have the pace eventually you come through. I expect them to be strong.”

Ricciardo said the race will be exciting without the German marrque in the first two rows, but like Raikkonen thought they were pulling punches during practice on Friday.

“I thought they were playing a few card games but it seems they are not particularly comfortable here this weekend. It’s a bit of a surprise and it’s good to capitalise on that.”

The track also gave McLaren something to cheer with Fernando qualifying in 12th and teammate Jenson Button 15th.

“This weekend has been very good for me, though, very different from Monza and Spa, I’ve always felt comfortable and competitive here, and tomorrow we’ll start in a good position from which to score points,” said Alonso.

“The race here is quite tough and demanding, on the mechanical side and on the driver’s side. There’s no room for mistakes, so we have to run a perfect race tomorrow and hopefully be in the points.

“Overtaking here is very difficult, so positions are mainly decided by where you start and by your strategy. There are always Safety Cars here, and you need some luck with that too.”

SATURDAY QUALIFYING RESULTS

1           Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari—1m43.885

2          Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull/Renault—1m44.428s

3          Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari—1m44.667s

4          Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull/Renault—1m44.745s

5          Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes—1m45.300s

6          Nico Rosberg, Mercedes—1m45.415s

7          Valtteri Bottas, Williams/Mercedes —1m45.676s

8          Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso/Renault—1m45.798s

9          Felipe Massa, Williams/Mercedes—1m46.077s

10        Romain Grosjean, Lotus/Mercedes—1m46.413s

11         Nico Hulkenberg, Force India/Mercedes—1m46.305s

12        Fernando Alonso, McLaren/Honda—1m46.328s

13        Sergio Perez, Force India/Mercedes—1m46.385s

14        Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso/Renault—1m46.894s

15        Jenson Button, McLaren/Honda—1m47.019s

16        Felipe Nasr, Sauber/Ferrari —1m46.965s

17        Marcus Ericsson, Sauber/Ferrari—1m47.088s

18        Pastor Maldonado, Lotus/Mercedes—1m47.323s

19        Will Stevens, Marussia/Ferrari—1m51.021s

20       Alexander Rossi, Marussia/Ferrari—1m51.523s