Formula One championship leader Mark Webber has vowed to “hang in there” after witnessing his four title rivals qualify ahead of him for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix.
For only the third time in 15 races this year, Webber will not start from the first two rows of the grid with the Australian fifth at the Marina Bay street circuit.
Critically for Webber, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is on pole followed by Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel and the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
“I knew the front row was going to be very competitive, but I’m disappointed to be off the second row,” said Webber, who finished six tenths of a second behind Alonso.
“I don’t think I could have done a lap to get on the front row, so it could be worse, but it could be better.
“Ferrari did a good job, with Fernando getting pole and fair play to him, whilst Sebastian has been fast all weekend.
“We will keep hanging in there as it’s a long race tomorrow and we’ll see how it goes. Let’s see what we can do.”
Team principal Christian Horner has admitted to frustration, which is unsurprising as Red Bull’s advantage from just three races ago has clearly been eroded.
Webber and Vettel blew everybody away in qualifying in Hungary, with their rivals a second adrift, since when the FIA have ramped up their tests regarding flexi floors and bodywork.
Although Red Bull passed all the subsequent tests, Horner insisted they had made no difference to his team’s cars.
Yet it appears clear on a circuit similar in characteristics to the Hungaroring that the Red Bulls have been pegged back.
“Second and fifth is a good starting position for tomorrow, but ultimately it’s frustrating after we showed such promise in the practice sessions,” said Horner.
“We missed the pole by the smallest of margins, whilst Mark didn’t have a particularly clean first run, which left him with a lot to do on the second run and unfortunately fifth was his optimum today.
“But it’s a long, hard gruelling race tomorrow, we know we have a competitive car, so we’re look forward to it.”