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German driver Sebastian Vettel has taken another big step to retaining his Formula One crown after putting his Red Bull on pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Another win for the Red Bull driver would put him almost out of sight in the standings, with just six races to go after Sunday, where he currently leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by 53 points and Mercedes Lewis Hamilton by a further 28 points.
Vettel was almost made to pay for sitting out the last few minutes of final qualifying as he watched Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg close to within 0.091secs, but he has dominated all weekend under the lights of the demanding Marina Bay circuit and looks to be in control again.
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn told Rosberg over the radio: “He didn’t run and I would think he was watching your lap getting somewhat anxious.”
Lotus’s Romain Grosjean took third, ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber in fourth and Hamilton back in fifth, Alonso could manage only seventh in his Ferrari.
Vettel admitted afterwards that it was far closer than he would have liked and he was a touch nervous as other drivers put in some fast sectors.
Vettel said: “It’s not the best feeling when you stand there and watch. I was watching the sector times closely, Mark set a purple [fastest of all] sector one, Romain set a purple sector two, then Nico set a purple sector two, but fortunately my last sector was strong enough. It’s a relief.”