Vettel breezes through hot night in Singapore

Red Bull dominate qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix as German Sebastian Vettel edges closer to world title.

    Red Bull have not got a party planned but Vettel could become back-to-back champion in Singapore [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Championship-chasing Sebastian Vettel nabbed his 11th pole position of the season on Saturday as his powerful Red Bull team secured a front-row lockout for the Singapore Grand Prix.

    The 24-year-old dominated the floodlit night session as Red Bull extended  their supremacy with their 14th successive pole, a remarkable record that has given Vettel a good chance to retain his title in the 61-lap race on Sunday.

    His Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber was second fastest thanks to a last-gasp lap of a competitive and tense session that featured a red flag interruption, accidents and punctures at the Marina Bay circuit.

    "Yes, we're good at parties, but if anything does happen, it'll be very spontaneous"

    Red Bull chief Christian Horner

    Vettel's pole was the 26th of his career as he seeks to become the youngest double champion in Formula One history - a feat he can achieve if he wins in Singapore and nearest rival Fernando Alonso fails to finish on the podium.

    Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said their team was not even thinking about titles or celebrations.

    "Yes, it's mathematically possible for him to win the world title here, but we're not thinking about it," said Horner.

    "Our job is to optimise performance and try to win the race. The rest we can't control.

    "The moon and stars have got to line up. We haven't booked anything for a party should we win. We're focused on the race.

    "Yes, we're good at parties, but if anything does happen, it'll be very spontaneous."

    Sweltering affair

    Spaniard Alonso qualified fifth for Ferrari behind the two McLarens of Britons Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the 2009 and 2008 champions respectively, who will line up in third and fourth places on the grid.

    Alonso's Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa was sixth ahead of German Nico Rosberg and his Mercedes team-mate and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 42.

    Another German, Adrian Sutil, was ninth for Force India, one place ahead of his team-mate Briton Paul di Resta.

    On another steaming hot night, the qualifying session began at 10:00pm local time under dazzling floodlights with the temperature hovering around 32 degrees Celsius and 67 percent humidity.

            Cool customer Vettel gets cooler during qualifying for the Singapore GP [GALLO/GETTY] 

    If it was taxing for a sell-out 75,000 crowd - the spectators perspiring around Marina Bay - it was a harsh test of fitness for the drivers and their teams.

    The tough conditions and need for front end grip soon saw the Renault team struggling at the wrong end of the time-sheets as Brazilian Bruno Senna and Russian Vitaly Petrov scrapped to survive into Q2.

    In the end, Senna surged through, but Petrov failed to make it and was top of those who failed to make the cut - the first Renault driver this year not to reach the second mini-session.

    At the business end, Vettel was imperious.

    He was fastest ahead of Button and Hamilton in Q1 and it was a hint at what lay ahead as Button was soon fastest in Q2 only for Vettel to slice more than half a second off his time.

    Japanese Kamui Kobayashi lost his Sauber car over the kerbs in the chicane and flew into barriers, providing more drama as qualifying approached its climax.

    His airborne exit ended his session and brought out the red flags with nine minutes remaining, in which more drama unfolded as Hamilton, out on soft tyres to secure his passage to the shootout, had to come in with a rear left puncture.



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