Hamilton storms to Singapore pole position

SINGAPORE, (Reuters) – World champion Lewis Hamilton  put McLaren on pole position for today’s Singapore Grand Prix  after title contender Rubens Barrichello crashed in the dying  seconds of Saturday’s qualifying.

The Briton lapped the floodlit 5.067km Marina Bay street  circuit in one minute 47.891 seconds to top the timesheets, with  the final session red-flagged with just 26 seconds remaining on  the clock.

“It’s absolutely fantastic and I am very happy for the  team,” Hamilton told reporters. It was his second pole in a row,  third in four races and 16th in 49 career starts.

“Throughout the weekend we have constantly been performing  upgrades, so we didn’t really know how fast we were. Friday  practice didn’t go that well so to come here today and do so  well is a testament to the team as they worked through the  night,” he added.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Williams’ Nico Rosberg, who  was quickest in the second part of qualifying, will start second  and third respectively after Barrichello’s crash  prevented either from trying to beat Hamilton’s time.

Brawn’s championship leader Jenson Button, 14 points ahead  of team mate Barrichello with four races remaining, qualified  12th. Barrichello, who hit the wall heavily at Turn Five, will  start two places ahead of him.

Gearbox Change

The Brazilian qualified fifth but incurred a five place  penalty for changing his gearbox after the final free practice  session.

Hamilton had complained that sections of the track were  dangerous prior to yesterday’s final free practice but the  24-year-old Briton was all smiles when he addressed the media  afterwards.

“The lap was good, I was very relaxed,” Hamilton added. “The  car has got better and better over the weekend. The circuit has  evolved and got a little bit grippier. I was able to go faster  so we will see what happens with the strategies.”

Vettel trails Button by 26 points and although overhauling  the Briton in the title race looks a distant prospect, the  German was on a quick run before Barrichello’s accident halted  proceedings.

“It’s great to be back qualifying near the front. Especially  as this is a street circuit,” Vettel said.

“The whole weekend the car was really good and although the  flag came out we did well and were able to keep pushing.

“It’s a long race tomorrow (Sunday), 61 laps and I believe  it will be tough but we have what it takes to challenge for the  win.”

Coming into the weekend, Brawn needed 14 points more than  the Red Bulls to secure the constructors’ title in their debut  season but the team will now be looking at a damage limitation  exercise rather than a push for glory.

“It’s not a good position to be in,” Button said. “It is  tough, and yeah, I am worried I am not going to be able to get  any points.”

Team principal Ross Brawn was even more pessimistic.

“It’s a disastrous session for us,” the Briton said. “We  underestimated the competition in Q2 because we used one old set  (of tyres), then one new set, and didn’t get the car balanced  well on the new set.”

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