Grand Prix of Singapore – Qualifying

As expected, the big news after Italy was confirmation that McLaren are dumping Honda; what was unclear was who will replace them (it’ll be Renault) and what impact that will have on the rest of the field:

  • Renault’s contract with Toro Rosso expires at the end of this season, and now Renault have said Red Bull won’t be able to use their engines after next season, which means they’ll be moving to Honda [BBC] although Christian Horner says Red Bull are keeping their options open
  • Carlos Sainz will replace Jolyon Palmer at the works Renault team for next season, “on loan” from Red Bull / Toro Rosso [BBC] “The most likely candidate to replace Sainz is Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who won the GP2 championship in 2016 and is winning races in the Japanese Super Formula series this year.”
  • Bottas has extended his contract with Mercedes for next season [autosport]

So what’s been happening on track in Singapore? Looks like Red Bull have been dominating the Free Practice sessions:

  1. FP1: RIC (1:42.489), VET, VER, HAM, PER
  2. FP2: RIC (1:40.852), VER, HAM, BOT, HUL, VAN, ALO
  3. FP3: VER (1:41.829), VET, HAM, ALO, VAN, RIC, HUL, BOT, RAI, PER

Hamilton is only 3 points ahead of Vettel in the Drivers’ Championship standings, but this circuit seems to favour Ferrari more than Mercedes.

After backing his Sauber into the wall in FP3, ERI will have a 5 place grid spot penalty for a gearbox change.
Looks like the Red Bull mechanics are still rebuilding RIC’s steering assembly – hopefully they’ll be ready for Q1

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
RAI first out of the pit lane; he’s on ultrasoft tyres
STR barely keeps his Williams out of the wall
RAI 1:44.060
Yellow flags as GRO uses the escape road at Turn 7; spins it around and rejoins
VET 0.6sec slower than his teammate
More yellow flags – GRO in T7 again
ALO pushing hard, runs wide in the final turn; goes P3
VAN 1:44.008
VER 1:43.031
RIC 1:42.846
MAS has broken his rear right wheel after slapping the wall at Turn 21; makes it back to the pits
HAM goes P2
VER 1:42.010
OCO taps the wall in exactly the same spot as MAS, but OCO avoids damage
5mins left; bottom 5 are WEH, STR, MAS, GRO, ERI* (*no time yet from ERI)
KVY’s engine belching smoke as he stops in his pit box
With 3mins left of Q1, just a few of the tail-end runners on track
GRO tags the wall too, but goes P10
ERI finally posts a time; he’s P16 but has a 5-spot penalty
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are SAI, PAL, ERI, WEH, MAS
SAI goes P3; bumps STR to P16
MAS P15; HUL P16
WEH P18
PAL P5; MAS P16
HUL P9; MAG P16
STR P18
Bottom of the grid: MAG, MAS, STR, WEH, ERI

Qualifying session 2
RAI first out of the pit lane again
HAM seems busy making setting changes
RAI 1:40.999
HAM P2 by 0.076sec
VET 1:40.529
VER 1:40.379
VAN only 0.15sec slower than HAM
BOT P7, behind VAN
5mins left of Q2; no time yet from GRO
Cars are going out for their final runs
3mins left; bottom 5 are ALO, PER, KVY, OCO, GRO
VET is the only one still in the garage… no, he’s going out now too
Chequered flag; bottom 5 are PAL, PER, KVY, OCO, GRO
OCO P14
PER pits; P12
PAL P11
VER 1:40.332
Middle of the grid: PAL, PER, KVY, OCO, GRO

PER on the radio to complain about that last set of tyres
KVY uses some colourful language to complain about his setup

Qualifying session 3
SAI 1:42.916
Radio from HAM – “tyre temps are all over the place”; told “we have no confidence” in that information
ALO 1:41.944
RAI 1:40.069
HAM P2
BOT P3
VER 1:39.814
VET 1:39.669
RIC P3
Order is VET, VER, RIC, RAI, HAM, BOT, ALO, VAN, HUL, SAI
Everyone heads for the pits to prepare for final runs
HUL heads out well ahead of the others – he might get an extra lap in
RIC is the last to leave the pits
Chequered flag
HUL P7
ALO P8
VAN P9
RAI P4
VER P2
HAM P5
VET 1:39.491
RIC P3
BOT P6
SAI P10
Front of the grid: VET, VER, RIC, RAI, HAM, BOT, HUL, ALO, VAN, SAI

Provisional grid: VET, VER, RIC, RAI, HAM, BOT, HUL, ALO, VAN, SAI, PAL, PER, KVY, OCO, GRO, MAG, MAS, STR, WEH, ERI*
*Only penalty is 5 grid spots for ERI’s gearbox change, but he’s P20 already

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