Sun, Sep 22, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Vettel storms to pole position for Singapore race

Reuters, SINGAPORE

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany drives into the pitlane during the third practice session of the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Sebastian Vettel continued his imperious march toward a fourth consecutive Formula One world championship by storming to pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday evening after dominating the two days of practice.

The Red Bull driver, who is 53 points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with seven races remaining, clocked a fastest lap of one minute, 42:841 seconds around the floodlit Marina Bay Street Circuit.

The German will be joined on the front row by compatriot Nico Rosberg for Mercedes, who was just 0.091 seconds behind.

The second row for Formula One’s only night race will be occupied by Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and Vettel’s Australian teammate Mark Webber.

Lewis Hamilton will start in fifth place while Alonso languished in seventh, outqualified by Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa..

Meanwhile, Caterham boss Tony Fernandes said Formula One “screwed up” the chance to keep costs under control as teams face a dramatic escalation next year.

The Malaysian entrepreneur said teams failed to come together and make a concerted effort to keep costs down and also agreed to the extra expense of introducing a new type of engine next year.

“I think the teams didn’t get together. The teams had a wonderful opportunity to try and create a fair, equitable split so that the sport is sustainable,” Fernandes, who also helms budget airline AirAsia and English soccer club QPR, said late on Friday.

“Teams looked at things on an individual basis as opposed to working together in FOTA [Formula One Teams Association] and trying to find a win-win situation for everyone and create a very healthy environment in a sustainable sport,” he said. “We screwed it up, it’s as simple as that.”

Fernandes has said in-fighting in FOTA was to blame for the failure to implement cost controls.

Teams have recently finished negotiations for a new Concorde Agreement to govern the sport and decide how to share profits.

And with an eye on environmental concerns, they will switch to smaller, 1.6-liter V6 turbo engines and limit their fuel supply.

“I’ve been consistent since day one that I’ve been in Formula One that costs are too high,” Fernandes said.

“When I came into Formula One, people talked to me about costs coming down but I don’t think there’s been a single year it’s come down,” he said.

“I think next year will be probably the highest year — so I think there’s something fundamentally wrong. I don’t think it’s just the engine, by the way, I think the teams lost out an opportunity to get costs under control,” he said.

“I think self-interest overrode the sport and we are as much to blame for this problem as an engine,” Fernandes said.

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