F1 2014 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for pole position

F1 driver Lewis Hamilton racing around the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix circuit [Picture: Mercedes-Benz

F1 driver Lewis Hamilton racing around the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix circuit [Picture: Mercedes-Benz] - Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Mercedes F1 racer Lewis Hamilton driving around the Marina Bay Street Circuit ahead of the 2014 Sing

Mercedes F1 racer Lewis Hamilton driving around the Marina Bay Street Circuit ahead of the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz] - Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Hamilton, the 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire, was quickest on the first day of practice on Friday.

And the Silver Arrows star, the 2008 F1 world champion, is looking to qualify fastest today (Saturday), with grid position key to a successful result in Singapore.

“Pole here has always been very important,” said Italian GP winner Hamilton. “The right side of the grid, for example, always seems to get the better starts.

“Being up at the front will be crucial and that’s obviously my target for qualifying. Nico [Rosberg] looks very quick, as do the Ferraris and the Red Bulls, but I’m feeling good this weekend and I’m focused on the job.”

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Held on a tortuous street circuit in the heart of the city-state, the sport’s only night race is undoubtedly a highlight of the season.

After the high-speed demands of Monza two weeks ago, Singapore’s Marina Bay circuit offers a very different challenge.

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The track has an average speed of just 170km/h (106mph), making it the second-slowest track of the year after Monaco.

Ten of its 23 corners are taken in first or second gear and less than 50 per cent of the lap is spent at full throttle. But the race is still one of the most demanding on the schedule.

The asphalt is very bumpy, there’s little room for error and sweltering weather conditions – 30 degrees and 70 per cent humidity – make it very tough for the drivers, who can lose up to three litres in sweat.

There are two DRS zones around the 5.065km lap. The first is on the start-finish straight; the second is on the approach to Turn Seven, which is also the fastest section of track, where the cars reach speeds of 300km/h.

On nailing a flying hot lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit, Hamilton said: “Keeping your minimum speed as high as possible through here is really important, as you need a fast exit heading through the first DRS zone along the back straight.

“There’s a small kink on the way through here and you need to be as smooth as you can, with the car bottoming all the way down to Turn 7.

“You generally brake at around the 100 metre sign for this corner, carrying lots of speed into the apex. The car is all over the place at this point – again because of the bumps.

“It’s hard braking again into the tight hairpin at Turn 8. At this point the tyres are really hot so getting good traction can be difficult, which makes Turn 9 even tougher. You have to be really careful and patient through here, as the exit is really tight to the wall and you can easily have an oversteer moment which could ruin your race.”

Hamilton added: “Then, we’re into quite a tricky part of the circuit – starting with Turn 10, where we used to have a terrible chicane but now there’s quite a quick left-hander into a fast chicane at Turns 11 and 12. The track gets pretty tight here as you go over the bridge, where it’s really easy to lock up the front wheels as you brake hard for the Turn 13 hairpin.

“The exit from Turn 13 is crucial for a good run down the straight and into Turn 14, where there’s surprisingly good grip on entry – allowing you to brake nice and late. After another short straight it’s into the really technical final sector, starting with the Turn 15, 16 and 17 sequence.

“You’re braking and turning all the way through the sweeping left-hander at Turn 15 so it’s really easy to lock up, then your immediately into a right and immediate left at Turns 16 and 17.

“It’s easy to lose the back end through Turns 18 and 19, then you have to use the kerbs a little through the fast chicane at Turns 20 and 21 – again a very bumpy part of the track where a small oversteer moment can easily see you clip the wall.

“The final two corners are almost one double-apex turn, taken really fast and firing you down the start / finish straight for another lap.”

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