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The Singapore race is one where strategy, mistake-free driving and tire preservation play as big a role as speed. With the bumpy and abrasive track hemmed in by concrete barriers, most accidents prompt a safety car period.

Tire provider Pirelli was forecasting a three-stop strategy. But some may gamble on a two-stopper, using safety car periods to ease tire wear, and relying on the difficulty of passing maneuvers to keep faster cars at bay.

“Getting the podium is doable,” Alonso said. “It’s a long race. The mechanics will be very demanding and strategy will play a big part.”

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi crashed out of the second part of qualifying, but emerged unhurt. He launched the nose of his car in the air by going over the curbs at the Turn 10 chicane and crashed into a concrete barrier.

Vitaly Petrov qualified in a season-worst position of 18th, with the Renault having struggled all weekend in the high-downforce settings required for the twisty street circuit.


Associated Press writer Alex Kennedy in Singapore contributed to this report.