Nico Rosberg set a blistering pace to claim pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix finishing half a second clear of Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and seven tenths ahead of championship-leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
FP1 got underway with Mercedes making the first move, both Hamilton and Rosberg taking to the track early on ultrasofts. Rosberg drew first blood with a time of 1:45. 316, but that was quickly bettered by Hamilton who went 1500ths of a second quicker.
Kimi Raikkonen then took over at the top of the order with a lap of 1:44.964. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen then slotted into P2, just seven hundredths of the a second behind the Finn. As the team’s prepared for final runs Daniel Ricciardo hit the top of the timesheet with his first hot lap of 1:44.255.
Sebastian Vettel was in trouble, however. “I think the front anti-roll bar broke,” said the German as he headed to the pit lane in P21, with six minutes to go.
Ahead of the final runs the drop featured Renault’s Kevin Magnussen in P17, followed by Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, the Manors of Pascal Wehrlein and the unfortunate Vettel in P22.
And despite frantic work in the Ferrari garage, the team could not get Vettel out for a final run and the four-time Singapore Grand Prix winner exited qualifying in P22.
Prior to the final runs it was Renault’s Jolyon Palmer who was the target man in P16 with a lap of 1:46.960 and in the final shake-up it was Sauber’s Ericsson who best beat the Briton’s benchmark to claim a Q2 berth. Out then went Magnussen in P17, followed by Nasr, Palmer, Wehrlein, Ocon and Vettel.
Q2 again saw the Mercedes drivers take to the track early and Rosberg quickly hit the front, with a quick lap of 1:43.020, followed by Hamilton who was four tenths back.
However, Red Bull Racing’s drivers took to the track with supersoft tyres and Ricciardo soon jumped to P3 with a time of 1:43.933, almost two tenths ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen in P4. That put them ahead of the ultrasoft–shod Ferrari of Raikkonen and Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
Meanwhile, in the drop zone ahead of the final runs were: McLaren’s Jenson Button, Force India’s Sergio Perez, the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, the second McLaren of Fernando Alonso, the second Haas of Romain Grosjean and Ericsson. The target man this time was Williams Felipe Massa in P10 with a time of 1:44.991.
But the quest to beat him was only afforded to a few as Grosjean crashed his Haas to bring out the yellow flags. Alonso and Perez managed to get a time in, however, and their times meant that out went Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Massa, Button, who also broke his steering in a scrape with the barriers on his final run, Gutierrez, Grosjean and Ericsson.
Grosjean’s crash led to a 10-minute delay to the start of Q3 as repairs were done to the barriers at Turn 10.
When the final session got underway it was Rosberg who took command, with the German setting a blistering lap of 1:42.584 to take P1 0.7s ahead of Hamilton in second. Raikkonen was third ahead of the Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Verstappen, with the Dutch driver saying poor grip had resulted in a “terrible lap”. Sainz was sixth ahead of Alonso, Hulkenberg, Perez and Kvyat.
In the final runs the only drivers to make steps forward though were the Red Bulls. Ricciardo put in an excellent lap of 1:43.115 and when Hamilton failed to better his time from his first run the Australian took P2 to claim his second front-row start in a row in Singapore. Verstappen too improved, posting lap of 1:43.328 to take P4.
Behind them, Raikkonen was fifth for Ferrari, ahead of the Toro Rossos of Sainz and Kvyat. Eighth place was taken by Hulkenberg, with Alonso ninth ahead of Perez.
2016 Singapore Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:45.316 1:43.020 1:42.584
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:44.255 1:43.933 1:43.115
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:45.167 1:43.471 1:43.288
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:45.036 1:44.112 1:43.328
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:44.964 1:44.159 1:43.540
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:45.499 1:44.493 1:44.197
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:45.291 1:44.475 1:44.469
8 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:46.081 1:44.737 1:44.479
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:45.373 1:44.653 1:44.553
10 Sergio Perez Force India 1:45.204 1:44.703 1:44.582
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:46.086 1:44.740
12 Felipe Massa Williams 1:46.056 1:44.991
13 Jenson Button McLaren 1:45.262 1:45.144
14 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:45.465 1:45.593
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:45.609 1:45.723
16 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:46.427 1:47.827
17 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:46.825
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:46.860
19 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:46.960
20 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:47.667
21 Esteban Ocon Manor 1:48.296
22 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.116