Sebastian Vettel moved a step closer to clinching his second successive Formula One title under the Singapore floodlights after securing Red Bull’s 14th pole position in as many races this season.
Vettel,who could be only a day away from becoming the sport’s youngest double world champion,lapped the Marina Bay Circuit in one minute 44.381 seconds to edge out team mate Mark Webber by 0.351.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was third fastest in Saturday’s qualifying for the night race with a time of 1:44.804.
I am reasonably confident for tomorrow,although it’s going to be a long race. It’s not just about speed but also control and managing the tyres,Vettel told reporters after his 11th pole of the season.
Red Bull’s 15th pole in a row,including the final race of last season at Abu Dhabi,never looked in doubt once Vettel got a clear track following a frustrating final free practice earlier on Saturday.
I think it’s an exceptional track for us… either you like it or hate it. I think the secret is a little bit of both,added the 24-year-old German.
Vettel’s first Singapore pole was also the 26th of his career and lifted him level with Finland’s double champion Mika Hakkinen in the all-time lists.
It’s a track with a lot of corners… 23 is amazing compared to the last race (Monza) where we had just 11. It’s challenging to put it all together,trying to get the best out of the car with the tyres on every corner,he said.
That’s why the satisfaction you get here is very big when you cross the line and know it has been a good lap.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start fourth on the grid after picking up a puncture in the second qualifying session. A refuelling problem then meant he was unable to do more than one quick lap in the last session.
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will fill the third row of the grid,ahead of the Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
Webber was delighted to help Red Bull lock up the front row of the grid at a circuit where he has struggled in the past.
In the end,Seb did a great job to get pole and my lap wasn’t too bad at all,so it puts us in a good position for the race tomorrow,the Australian said.
Button was as surprised as Webber with his position after a miserable Friday when he was forced to abandon his stricken McLaren on the track in the second practice session after completing just 10 laps.
I did not expect to be here last night,I didn’t run the super soft tyres yesterday so we made a lot of changes overnight with quite a lot of improvements,the 2009 world champion said.
I am happy to be in the top three. It’s the clean side of the circuit,but the worry tomorrow is that no one has driven with high fuel so we don’t know how that will affect things.
Qualifying was briefly red flagged with nine minutes remaining of the second session when Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi went airborne after hitting the kerb at speed through the turn 10 chicane and crashed into the wall. He was unhurt.
Vettel has a 112 point advantage in the championship and will take the title on Sunday with five races remaining if he can extend that lead by a further 13 points.
Alonso is currently second overall,with Webber and Button both 117 points adrift of Vettel.