F1: 2011 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying misfortune for Hamilton
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton suffered a series of mishaps in qualifying for the 2011 Singapore Grand Prix that cost him a potential front row starting position.
It was an eventful night-time qualifying session for the Herts-born F1 ace around the floodlit Marina Bay street circuit today (Saturday).
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star damaged the underside of his MP4-26 during the first phase of qualifying on the temporary track’s kerbs.
He then suffered a puncture in Q2 and eventually had to settle for fourth place on the grid alongside McLaren colleague Jenson Button after failing to get a second run in the decisive top 10 shootout.
Sebastian Vettel, the runaway F1 world championship leader, bagged pole position again with team-mate Mark Webber completing a front row lockout for Red Bull.
2011 Singapore Grand Prix grid positions
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2 Mark Webber (Red Bull)
3 Jenson Button (McLaren)
4 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Hamilton said: “I had a pretty eventful time in all three qualifying sessions.
“In Q1, I damaged part of the floor on the kerbs and the mechanics did an absolutely fantastic job to get it fixed and the car turned around for the next session.
“So I want to say a big ‘thanks’ to the guys for pulling out all the stops.”
Hamilton suffered further misfortune in the second part of qualifying.
He said: “I’m still not entirely sure how I picked up the puncture at the end of Q2.
“I went over a kerb at Turn 10 and the tyre sensors detected a sudden loss of pressure.
“There are quite a few bolts hanging out of the kerbs, so I guess it could have been one of those, but we don’t really know.”
Hamilton was then on course for a front row spot in Q3 but was relegated down to fourth by Webber and Button after a problem refuelling in the garage.
“At the end of Q3, we had an issue with the refuelling process – we couldn’t get enough fuel into the car quick enough,” said Hamilton.
“In the end, we just ran out of time, so I couldn’t fit in my final run. But that’s racing, and sometimes these things happen.
“Fortunately, my first Q3 run had been very good.
“I reckon there was still a bit more time to come – I lost some time behind Fernando [Alonso], when I got within a second of his car in the final sector of the lap – so if I’d managed to get another run in Q3 I’d have probably been able to make up some time there.
Singapore GP Marina Bay Street Circuit
Top speed: 295km/h
Average Speed: 190km/h
Circuit length: 5.1km
Pit straight length: 400m
Race length: 61laps / 309km
Number of corners: 23
Gear changes per lap: 40
“But, all in all, fourth place isn’t too bad – and, as I say, the most encouraging thing is that we’ve still got more pace up our sleeve.
“So, yes, I think the front row could have been possible.”
Hamilton’s team boss praised both Lewis and Button for their performances in Singapore.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “Lewis drove really well today, and will consequently start from the second row alongside Jenson tomorrow.
Previous Singapore Grand Prix winners
2008: Fernando Alonso (Renault)
2009: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2010: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
“In fact, he may have been able to improve on that time, had he been able to put in an extra lap in Q3, but unfortunately we had an issue with our refuelling process.
“That, combined with a puncture and a randomly selected visit to the FIA weighbridge, both in Q2, made for a rather eventful afternoon for him.”
The 2011 Singapore Grand Prix starts at 1pm BST on Sunday.
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