Sebastian Vettel seized his 2nd consecutive pole position today in qualifying for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The World Champion set fastest lap in a rain-hit qualifying three session that saw laptimes fall dramatically as the Sepang circuit dried rapidly when the drizzle stopped falling.
Felipe Massa got the better of team-mate Fernando Alonso for the 4th race in a row and takes his first front-row start in 50 races alongside the Red Bull of Vettel. Alonso was 3rd, while Lewis Hamilton failed to capitalise on being last across the line and will start the race from 4th place.
“It was a good session in Q3 and it was clear what we had to do, so I’m pleased with the result.” said Vettel in a post-quali interview. “It’s a long race tomorrow and whoever wins will have done the best job. We managed to save some tyres today which will help if the race is dry, but we will see.”
Mark Webber, initially faster than his World Champion team-mate, had to settle for 5th after failing to improve on his final run, while Nico Rosberg admitted he did not get the maximum from his Mercedes F1 W04 and was disappointed to only set 6th fatest time. Kimi Raikkonen was originally 7th, but has been relegated to 10th with a grid penalty for ‘impeding’ Rosberg late in the final session. The demotion moves Jenson Button up to 7th, ahead of Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez, both McLaren MP4/28’s exhibiting improved pace to make it into the top ten shooutout.
“Considering how our car was behaving at Albert Park just a week ago, I guess you could say that was an encouraging qualifying session.” claimed Perez afterwards. “Jenson and I both got into Q3, which was a relief, but obviously we know we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of car development.”
Rain had hit the Q2 segment of qualifying before Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Gutierrez and Paul Di Resta could improve their times; consequently all four have a free choice of tyres tomorrow for the race.
“Quite a frustrating day because we got caught out by the weather.” said Di Resta. “We’ve looked strong this weekend so felt quite confident heading into qualifying, but the rain arrived earlier than the team expected. Now we need to see what the weather does tomorrow, but I will certainly come back fighting.”
Pastor Maldonado could only get his Williams FW35 into 16th place, while Jean Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas were the big-name victims of Q1. Jules Bianchi impressed again, placing his Marussia ahead of Caterham’s Charles Pic, team-mate Max Chilton and Giedo Van Der Garde who was off the pace of his main rivals.
|1||Sebastian VETTEL||Red Bull||1:49:674|
|5||Mark WEBBER||Red Bull||1:52:244|
|8||Adrian SUTIL||Force India||1:53:439|
|13||Daniel RICCIARDO||Toro Rosso||1:38:822|
|15||Paul DI RESTA||Force India||1:44:509|
|17||Jean Eric VERGNE||Toro Rosso||1:38:157|
|22||Diego VAN DER GARDE||Caterham||1:39:932|
*3-place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg.