Singapore GP: Introducing a newbie: Qualifying

“You do realise,” I told my poor friend Imi, “that you will have to watch the Singapore GP with me this weekend, and you will be in my blog?”

The Singapore Grand Prix is, I thought, a good choice to try and introduce someone to Formula One. The night race adds a certain magic to proceedings, and the track throws up a unique set of challenges for the teams.

It also sets up a unique challenge for me, as I try to convince my friend that this is worth tuning in to in future while watching an atypical race. My friend had seen a few races before, and had enjoyed them. But would this weekend convince her to tune in for the remaining races or even convert her into a diehard fan?

Qualifying

Within minutes, my friend was already unimpressed with Pastor Maldanado’s handling of the car in Q1.

Ferrari had been flying through all three practices; conversely Mercedes were struggling – almost unfathomable given their dominance so far this season. Everyone seemed to panic in the first qualifying session, and everyone opted to use the faster of the two tyres early, rather than save them for later sessions, just to ensure they made it through to the second and third rounds.

For the first time this year, both McLaren Hondas made it through to Q2, and qualified 12th and 15th. Carlos Sainz’s trip into the barrier in the final stages of Q2 meant that neither Alonso or Hulkenberg could improve their lap time to proceed to Q3.

The final qualifying session gave us hope that the race on Sunday would be one of the best of the season with a mixed up top ten resulting in Mercedes sitting fifth and six on the grid, and Ferrari and Red Bull locking out the front two rows.

Alexander Rossi, making his debut for Manor Marussia, qualified 20th and in last place.

It was lovely to see Daniel Ricciardo so lively on his return to the front row for the first time this season, and incredible that none of the top four are powered by Mercedes Benz. On a weekend where rumours are abuzz about Red Bull’s future engine supplier (or even owner according to BBC’s Eddie Jordan), it is good to see them back in front and performing to a high standard.

Afterwards, Imi and I had a post-quail debrief, and this is what she had to say:

“If I understood it more, I’d enjoy it more. But the more and more I watch it, the more names I get to know and the more I start to enjoy it.

“The race could be more exciting because it’s different people. I’ve watched enough to already get bored at the fact that Hamilton always wins.

“I would say that, though I might not become a diehard fan, I do enjoy tuning in – the banter’s fun.”

The banter is something that also keeps me tuning in, although I feel in recent seasons we have lost our big personalities on the grid, and could lose another in Jenson Button if he decides not to continue in 2016. It is also not ideal for F1 if it is the sole reason that makes the races interesting.

We will be back tomorrow with both of our thoughts on tomorrow’s race. The current consensus is this could be a cracker.

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