Sports

Hamilton narrowly beats Rosberg for Singapore GP pole

Singapore (SportsNetwork.com) - Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes will start on the pole for the Singapore Grand Prix after edging his teammate and championship rival, Nico Rosberg, by the slimmest of margins -- 0.007 seconds -- in Saturday's qualifying.

Rosberg, the current Formula One world championship leader, held the provisional pole after completing his final lap around the 3.259-mile (5.065- kilometer), 23-turn Marina Bay Street Circuit in 1 minute, 45.688 seconds. But seconds later, Hamilton topped Rosberg with a lap in 1:45.681 for his sixth pole of the season and the 37th of his F1 career.

The top-nine drivers in qualifying were separated by margin of only 0.569 seconds.

"Quite an exciting qualifying session there," Hamilton said. "I guess nobody was really expecting to see so much suspense and how close everyone was. We had some good laps in the first and second qualifying rounds. The Ferraris were very close. But the way it ended was good for our team."

Hamilton started on the pole and won the Singapore GP in 2009. He also started first in this race two years ago but ended up retiring in the early going to a reliability issue.

Two weeks ago, Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix after starting on the pole. He enters Sunday's Singapore GP 22 points behind Rosberg.

Four of the last five races in Singapore have been won from the pole position.

"Tomorrow should be interesting," Hamilton said. "Looking after the tires won't be easy, but I think it will be a good race to watch for the fans."

Rosberg was attempting to win his eighth pole of the season. When informed that Hamilton had beat him for the top starting position, Rosberg shouted, "Damn it," over his team radio in frustration.

"When I think back about that (final) lap, seven-thousandths (of a second) is nothing," Rosberg said. "A little bit here or there, I could have done it. But that's the way it is. Lewis did a good job to get the pole. So fair play. Second place, it's OK. Obviously, first would be better, but it's a long race ahead."

Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull qualified third, finishing 0.173 seconds behind Hamilton.

"It's definitely encouraging," Ricciardo said. "We came into this weekend hoping that if we could be within two or three-tenths (of a second) it should give us optimism about our chances in the race to stay with them (Mercedes). I think we ended up a bit closer than we thought we would. So it was a good day."

Ricciardo's teammate, Sebastian Vettel, the four-time F1 world champion and winner of the last three Singapore GPs, will start fourth. Vettel has yet to win a grand prix this season.

Fernando Alonso placed his Ferrari fifth on the starting grid. Alonso posted the quickest lap in Friday's opening practice session and Saturday's final practice. He is a two-time winner of this race (2008 and '10).

Felipe Massa from Williams qualified sixth, while Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen placed seventh. Raikkonen turned the fastest lap in Q1 but had to abort his final run in Q3 due to a technical issue.

Massa's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, took the eighth spot, followed by Kevin Magnussen from McLaren and Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat.