2014 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING
– Lewis took his 6th pole position of 2014 this evening in Singapore and the team’s 13th from 14 races this year
– This means that Mercedes-Benz power has so far taken pole at all 14 rounds of the world championship
– Nico finished second to make it the team’s 7th all-Mercedes front row in 2014 and the third in a row
– The gap between the two of 0.007s equates to just 33.5 cm around the 5.065 km lap!
– Both drivers used one set of prime tyres and three sets of option tyre during the qualifying session
Weather: Clear, dry, humid
Temperatures: Air 27 – 28°C, Track 31 – 37°C
That was one of the most exciting qualifying sessions I can remember. I lost a lot of time at the beginning of my last lap and at that point I thought pole was lost. But I just kept going and managed to pull some time back. As a driver, through the weekend you plan to have the last lap in qualifying as your best. By that time the track has improved and you should have the settings as close to their optimum as they’re going to get. But there was so much happening out there and I was just trying not to look at what was going on around me. I was surprised by how close everyone was – the Red Bulls and Ferraris looked quick all day – and it was really fun to be a part of that session. The team have done a fantastic job to bring the car here, to a circuit where downforce is so important, and be at the front once again, so a big thank you to them. It´s going to be a tough race tomorrow. Coming into the weekend we had an opinion about how the tyres would behave, but the long runs yesterday changed all that. Trying to manage them will be a big challenge but hopefully it will be an entertaining one for the fans. I’m on the clean side of the track so I’m hoping for a clean start and a strong race.
In general that was the most difficult qualifying session of my career so far. It was really tough to find my rhythm. I had to change my brakes for qualifying and then had to find the right balance in the early runs which was a struggle. I just thought, “that’s it, you will be 6th or 7th”. Then, at the end, I was really happy with the balance and feeling good. When I heard that Lewis was that tiny margin quicker I thought “damn”! I directly reviewed my lap and thought there were so many places to gain seven thousandths of a second – especially in the last corner. But in the end he did seven thousandths of a better job today, so fair play to him. P2 is still good for tomorrow’s race and I’m focused on having a good start. Last year I overtook Sebastian at Turn One, so it’s definitely possible to win from here. It’s going to be all about managing the tyres and I learned some good lessons in my long runs yesterday, so I hope it will be an exciting race for the fans.
That qualifying session was great to watch and a strong advert for Formula One. From our point of view, it’s clear that we don’t enjoy the advantage here that we have had on previous weekends. But this is a unique circuit and to produce a car which can be fast at every venue on the calendar is a big task, so we must be very pleased with a 1-2 front-row lockout. Our performance this weekend so far hasn’t been totally consistent and that is what we will need tomorrow evening. But the demands of racing are different to those of a single lap. I’m optimistic that we are capable of performing well when it comes to managing the energy levels, the fuel and the brakes in the race. So, a good job today but still a lot to do tomorrow.
We came to Singapore expecting drama and that’s exactly what we got – and it’s not even Sunday yet! It’s great to have locked out the front row after a very tense session. It was all about putting a lap together with the tyres in the right condition and we weren’t managing to do that consistently during the session. It all came down to the final laps – with Lewis and Nico in P6 and P7 respectively – and they each delivered phenomenal performances. Well done to both of them. Looking to tomorrow, we know there are still many challenges to overcome. We need to get through the first corner cleanly, make the right calls in the race and history has shown that a Safety Car period is almost inevitable at some point. There is still a very long way to go – but we’re starting from the best possible positions.