Felipe Massa was the high profile loser in opening qualifying at the Singapore Grand Prix after a suspected gearbox electronics problem prevented him from even completing a lap.
The Brazilian was one of last to venture out of the pit-lane, but failed to even make it to the start of his planned flying lap after grinding to a halt just a few corners in. The stranded Ferrari was so positioned as to require a red flag to remove it, causing a mid-session interlude for everyone to catch their breath or, in the case of the drivers, cool themselves down.
With Massa out, the shape of the session was largely established, with the six 'newcomer' cars expected to fill the remaining non-qualifier spots. Despite that, four other drivers still had to post flying laps in order to make it through to Q2, but Nico Hulkenberg, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil and Robert Kubica all did so with ease.
With no further mishaps, and two seconds between 17th placed Sebastien Buemi and 18th placed Timo Glock, the gap was too big to be bridged, with the Virgin driver edging Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen for bragging rights among the lesser lights. Lucas di Grassi, Jarno Trulli, Christian Klien and Bruno Senna duly joined Massa in missing the cut.
At the front of the field, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel fought out a personal battle for top spot, eventually claimed by the Spaniard by four-tenths after he returned to the track after the red flag. The second Red Bull of Mark Webber moved up to third, with Kubica and Hulkenberg rounding out the top five. The remaining title contenders, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were sixth and ninth respectively after sitting out the second half, split by the impressive Jaime Alguersuari and Barrichello. Michael Schumacher rounded out the top ten.