Title favourite Sebastian Vettel will seek to maintain his massive lead in the drivers standings when he start in pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.
Watch Singapore Grand Prix Live on NBC Sports – Sunday 22 September: Race coverage at 7:30 EST
The Red Bull’s driver came survived some anxious moments when he held off his rivals to claim the 41st pole position of his Formula One career – his second consecutive and fifth pole position of the season.
Vettel (1:42.841), after taking a commanding leading in qualifier, opted to relax and sit out the final minutes of the session, something that almost backfired as his fellow Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, all put the leader on the edge as his watched.
“In the end it was very close and it’s not the best feeling in the world when you stand there and watch,” Vettel said. “It was very close. If it had gone the other way then we would have looked like idiots so in that regard it was a big relief.
“Next time, if I have to choose, I would go back out in the car.
“I knew we had a cushion and that’s why we decided not to run again. But the thing you don’t really know is how much the track can improve. If you run again, you get a better feel for the car and tyres and can get a bit more out of yourself as well.
“In the end it was close, but fortunately my last sector was good enough [to stay in front].”
He added: “I watched the sector times very closely with obviously Romain, Nico, and Mark in particular.
“Mark started with a purple sector one, very close in sector two, then Nico had a purple sector two, then Romain had a purple sector two.
“Fortunately my last sector was strong enough to just stay ahead, but it was very close in the end with Nico.
“After that there was obviously a great feeling because it could have gone so wrong, so I’m very happy with the result, and the car’s been phenomenal all weekend.”
Rosberg will start second, while Grosjean, Webber, Lewis Hamilton starts in the top five positions.
Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso and start sixth and seventh, respectively, with McLaren driver Jenson Button starting in eight position.
Top Ten Starting Positions
P Driver Team
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3 Romain Grosjean Lotus
4 Mark Webber Red Bull
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
8 Jenson Button McLaren
9 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso
10 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber