Mar 23, 2013, 5:20 AM EDT
Sebastian Vettel has claimed pole position for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix after mastering the tricky conditions in qualifying to finish quickest.
A short rain shower during Q2 meant that the drivers were forced to use intermediate tires during the final qualifying session, and it was a question of who could post the last lap time to take advantage of the drying track.
Vettel got to grips with his intermediate tires, finishing almost one second ahead of closest challenger Felipe Massa. The Brazilian driver outqualified Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, who finished in third place.
Mercedes finished a solid fourth and sixth, with Lewis Hamilton edging out Nico Rosberg, whilst Mark Webber could not match his teammate’s front row start, qualifying down in fifth. Kimi Raikkonen finished P7 ahead of Jenson Button, and McLaren will be thankful for the rain after getting both of their cars into Q3, although Sergio Perez could only finish P10. Adrian Sutil failed to repeat his form from practice, qualifying ninth.
Q1 saw the Sepang International Circuit basking in bright sunshine, and Red Bull were very nearly caught out as Vettel and Webber left it late to set a time, only just avoiding the drop. Less fortunate was Jean-Eric Vergne, who joined Valtteri Bottas in the drop zone alongside Marussia and Caterham. Jules Bianchi outqualified Pic, Chilton and van der Garde once again, finishing just 0.5s off a place in Q2.
Paul di Resta was the biggest loser in Q2, opting to abort an early lap to take on fresh tires. Once the rain fell, it was too late, and the Force India driver ended up in P15. Romain Grosjean was also caught out by the weather, and he will not have the advantage of fresh tires due to the wet Q3 session, meaning that the top ten can also start on new Pirelli tires.
Red Bull will be pleased with their pace in the wet conditions, and with the forecast suggesting that rain could fall during the race, they will be hoping for Mark Webber to make a better start in order to support Vettel during the race. With Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes also in the running, the race tomorrow is set to be a close affair.
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:49.674
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:50.587
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:50.727
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:51.699
5 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:52.244
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:52.519
7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:52.970
8 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:53.175
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:53.439
10 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:54.136
11 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:37.636
12 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.125
13 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.822 12
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:39.221
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:44.509
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault No time
17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:38.157
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:38.207
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:38.434
20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:39.314
21 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.672
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:39.932
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