Sebastian Vettel has snared back to back pole positions after taking the 38th pole of his Formula 1 career in mixed conditions at Sepang.
The reigning World Champion edged out both Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso after initially looking in danger to miss Q2 when he experimented with different tyre choice. The rain began to fall during the end of Q2, and Vettel set his pole lap of nearly a second faster from Massa as he once again showed the pace of the RB9.
Massa in second out qualified Alonso for the fourth consecutive race and starts from the front row for the first time since 2010.
Lewis Hamilton showed some strong pace for Mercedes and at one point looked likely he could take a surprise pole, before eventually settling for fourth. Mark Webber took fifth ahead of Nico Rosberg.
Australian winner Kimi Raikkonen initially qualified seventh but was later penalised for blocking Rosberg, and will start from tenth after receiving a three-place grid penalty. His misfortune was Jenson Button’s gain, with Button moving up from eighth to seventh.
Adrian Sutil was impressive in the dry conditions, setting the fastest time of Q1 and the fifth-fastest time of Q2, but struggled in the wet and will start in eighth place. Sergio Perez managed to finally crack the top ten in a McLaren, and will start the race in ninth place.
Outside the top ten, the biggest scalp of Q2 was Romain Grosjean who will line up one spot behind his teammate in eleventh place. A similar shock came from Paul di Resta, who left his runs too late when the track was wet and suffered numerous off track excursions on the way to a disappointing fifteenth place in Q2.
Nico Hulkenberg will start from twelfth, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who finally showed Toro Rosso can move up the midfield here in Malaysia. Esteban Gutierrez will line up fourteenth, with Pastor Maldonado sixteenth after failing to set a time in Q2.
In Q3 the two drivers who weren’t in the bottom two teams to miss out where Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso and Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. In a possible worrying sign for Bottas and the Williams team and a positive sign for Jules Bianchi and the Marussia team, Bianchi finished only two tenths off the time set by Bottas. So good was Bianchi’s time that he only missed out on making Q2 by six tenths of a second and was nearly a full second clear of his nearest rival Charles Pic in 20th place. The final two places on the grid will be made up by Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde.
With more rain forecast for the race, all eyes will be on Sepang as the lights go green for Race 2 of the 2013 Formula One World Championship!
2013 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:49.674|
|2.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:50.587||+ 0.913|
|3.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:50.727||+ 1.053|
|4.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:51.699||+ 2.025|
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:52.244||+ 2.570|
|6.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:52.519||+ 2.845|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen#||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:52.970||+ 3.296|
|8.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:53.175||+ 3.501|
|9.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:53.439||+ 3.675|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:54.136||+ 4.462|
|Q3 Cut-Off – 1:37.342||Time||Gap*|
|11.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:37.636||+ 1.446|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:38.125||+ 1.935|
|13.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:38.822||+ 2.632|
|14.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:39.221||+ 3.031|
|15.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:44.509||+ 8.319|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||no time|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:37.931||Time||Gap**|
|17.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:38.157||+ 1.348|
|18.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:38.207||+ 1.398|
|19.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:38.434||+ 1.625|
|20.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:39.314||+ 2.505|
|21.||Max Chilton||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR02||1:39.672||+ 2.863|
|22.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:39.932||+ 3.123|
* Gap to fastest Q2 time of 1:36.190 by Nico Rosberg
** Gap to fastest Q1 time of 1:36.809 by Adrian Sutil
# Denoted three-place grid penalty imposed for impeding
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