"Dammit!"

One word summed up Nico Rosberg's feelings at hearing that Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton had pipped him to pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix, as the German rued the slimmest margin of the season so far.

Just 0.007secs split the two Silver Arrows at the end of a tense Q3 in Marina Bay, with Rosberg thinking he had done enough to claim a top spot that proves more crucial than most. Four of the previous six Singapore races have been won from pole position, and the points leader knows the significance of his main rival snatching P1.

Related Articles

"Seven thousandths!" he smiled ruefully, "When I think back at the lap, it's nothing... A little bit here or there, c'mon, I could have done it."

There was little that Rosberg could point to making the difference between the two contenders, although replays suggested that his lock-up may have been a little more costly than the one Hamilton suffered into turn one.

"That's the way it is," the German sighed, "Lewis did a good job to get pole, so fair play. Second place is okay - it could have been better, but there's a long race ahead..."

Rosberg had earlier been conspicuous as the highest-placed runner to take a second run at Q2. Having sat fifth overall, he may well have had safe passage to the final phase, but decided to go out again - and promptly laid down a marker by vaulting into P1 as the chequered flag fell. He later revealed that he was still adapting to a ca much changed from free practice earlier in the day and wanted to be sure he felt right before shooting for pole.

"We changed brakes going into qualifying and I'd got into a rhythm with the other brakes, so that was a challenge," he conceded, "We expected it to be, but it took me some time to get into qualifying.

"The balance was also very different because the track had cooled down relative to the session before - there was a lot more understeer and the rear had a lot more grip, so I had to completely adapt the settings and it took me some time to get into the session. I'm really pleased that, in the end, I was able to push flat-out and put in a good lap time."

Rosberg was also warned to take care of his tyres as they may be needed for a race that typically features as many as three stops, but the championship leader appeared unconcerned.

"Tomorrow is going to be a tough race in terms of tyres and degradation, but I'm confident as I had some good long runs yesterday, so I'm prepared for the race and feel good about it."