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Singapore GP: Qualifying notes - Pirelli

NEWS STORY
19/09/2015

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has taken the first non Mercedes-engined pole position of the hybrid era, thanks to a stunning lap of 1m43.885s in Q3 using Pirelli's P Zero Red supersoft. This was 1.8 seconds faster than the pole time last year.

The two Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, plus the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, were the only cars to get through Q1 using the P Zero Yellow soft tyre only, with Vettel fastest of them thanks to a third-quickest time overall in Q1. Last year's pole time was already beaten solidly early in Q1, although the circuit layout has altered slightly compared to 2014.

From Q2 onwards, all the cars used the supersoft tyre only, which is currently just under 1.5 seconds per lap faster than the soft compound. Ferrari and Red Bull continued to show plenty of pace in Q2, with Vettel emerging quickest ahead of Daniil Kvyat. The final top 10 shoot out under the lights was again clinched by Vettel on his second run in Q3, with new supersofts.

The final free practice session was also topped by Vettel, who went fastest on the supersoft tyre by half a second to lead a Ferrari one-two. As usual, track conditions were hot and humid throughout qualifying, with ambient and track temperatures of 30 and 33 degrees respectively.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: "One of the most thrilling qualifying sessions of the year, which promises a lot in terms of strategy. Track temperatures clearly had an influence on qualifying, with temperatures progressively falling during the session. The result is a grid that has a distinctly different look to it from usual and that means that we should be in for an exciting grand prix tomorrow. Singapore contains so many differences compared to other races that it inevitably leads to a surprise or two, and we've seen that again tonight: in an absolutely stunning setting under the lights."

The strategy predictor

Between two and three stops are expected for the Singapore Grand Prix, with three stops being theoretically the quickest option, depending on traffic. However, an important factor to bear in mind is the fact that there has been a safety car at every race held in Singapore, since its debut in 2008. This means that any strategy has to be flexible. The quickest three-stop strategy for the 61-lap race, according to our prediction, is: start on supersoft, change to the supersoft again on lap 16, supersoft once more on lap 31, then soft from lap 46. Some teams may attempt to manage their pace in order to achieve a two-stopper. The quickest two-stopper would be: start on supersoft, supersoft again on lap 16, then soft from 43. This could reduce the risk of hitting traffic at the end of the race.

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