Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, the first ever night race in Formula 1 history, from the front row of the grid. In Saturday's exciting qualifying which ended at 23:00h local time, Lewis set a time of 1m45.465 and was second fastest. Heikki will start fifth on the grid with a time of 1m45.873.
The team decided to change the engine in Heikki's car after the Italian Grand Prix. He will use the 'joker' engine change as available for all engine manufacturers within the FIA regulations. No grid penalty will be applied.
Lewis Hamilton:"After I ran wide in the second part of qualifying I decided to play it safe on the one remaining run and fortunately I moved up to Q3 and managed a place on the front row. At the last sector I was really fast, but I still have to improve in the first two sectors; particularly at turn five I lost a bit of time. We had a good set-up; however, the tyre decision was not easy today as I felt no big difference between the prime and the option tyre."
Heikki Kovalainen: "The balance of my car was excellent especially in Q1 and Q2. Obviously the option tyre didn’t work as well as the prime today. In Q3 on my last run I touched the wall slightly three corners from the finish which cost me some time. It’s so close and competitive nowadays that even a minor mistake can cost me a few places on the grid, despite having a well balanced and quick car. The aim now is to score as many points as possible for the team. With our speed and fine handling we should be in a good position in the race."
Ron Dennis: "Well, that was a pretty stressful qualifying hour! Lewis was hampered by a yellow flag on one of his runs and by traffic on another, which made things a little too close for comfort in the second session, but then did a very good job in the final session. Heikki did a very good job too, but he also had a problem; in his case it came in his first run in the final session. From now on, though, it's all about race strategy. Fuel weight is a very significant factor in terms of lap time on this circuit, so let's just say that we're looking forward to a close and competitive race tomorrow."
Norbert Haug: "Lewis had problems with his brakes in the second part of qualifying, then was called in for a weight check and, when he was finally back on track, he hit traffic in the last sector - but fortunately he moved up to Q3 - possibly some good luck was on our side. Afterwards Lewis qualified second which is okay. Our basis with Lewis in second and Heikki in fifth positions on the grid respectively is not quite ideal, but the race is tomorrow. Today we didn’t get it 100 per cent right, but tomorrow we want to do a better job, and I think our strategy will help us to do so."