Rosberg on pole for Singapore GP

Nico Rosberg lapped 1min 42.584sec on the demanding street circuit to win qualifying by more than half-a-second from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, with championship leader Hamilton set to start from third.

nico rosberg, singapore gp, mercedes

Nico Rosberg beat Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo to take the pole position for Singapore GP.   -  Getty Images

In his 200th race, Nico Rosberg threw down the gauntlet to teammate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton by grabbing the pole position for Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay circuit here on Saturday.

Rosberg's time of 1:42:584s was seven-tenths quicker than Hamilton (third) and half a second faster than Daniel Ricciardo (second).

>MATCHCENTRE

But the big story of the day was when four-time winner and last year’s pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel failed to clear the first part of qualifying after a mechanical issue in the rear suspension of his Ferrari.

The problem was apparent from his first run in qualifying but he tried to stay on to post a time to take him to the second part before coming into the pits for repair, which was unsuccessful. Vettel, who won the race last year, will now start from last on the grid.

At a time when the team has internal turmoil and disappointing results on track, this result is likely to hurt its chances further in the fight against Red Bull for the second place in the constructors' championship.

Kimi Raikkonen could only manage the fifth fastest time behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Hamilton, who won the race here from pole position in 2014, never got going this weekend and struggled once again in the final practice session held in the evening. The Briton had quite a few offs in practice and never looked on pace across three qualifying sessions on Saturday.

In the first part of qualifying, apart from Vettel’s exit, the two Renaults, the two Manors and the Sauber of Felipe Nasr failed to make the cut off.

In the second part of qualifying, the two Red Bulls chose the more durable supersoft tyres unlike the rest of the field that ran the quicker ultrasoft tyres.

The rules dictate that the top ten drivers will have to start on tyres they used to set their best times in the second part of qualifying.

Going into Sunday’s race, this gives both the Red Bull drivers the advantage to run longer in the first stint while the Mercedes will have to start on the ultrasoft tyres.

For Hamilton, who has had numerous issues with starts this season, it will be important to get ahead of Ricciardo at the start, for overtaking is very difficult on this track.

Towards the end of the second part of qualifying, Haas F1 driver became the first one to crash into the barriers in qualifying locking up under braking for turn 10.

In the battle for the fourth in the constructors title with Williams, Force India had a mixed day with Nico Hulkenberg qualifying eighth and Sergio Perez at 18th.

Perez qualified tenth but was given two penalties, three places (for overtaking a car under double waved yellow flag) and another five places (for speeding under yellow flag) in Q2 following Grosjean's crash.

Every edition of the Singapore GP has seen the appearance of a safety car and the timing of the pit stops could play a key role in the outcome of the race.

I n the previous eight races of the Singapore GP, the pole-sitter has won the race six times and Rosberg, who is two-race winning streak, will want to make it count here on Sunday to lead the championship once again.