Mar 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Defending Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has bounced back from a disastrous opening race of the season in Australia to qualify in second place for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, and the German driver is delighted to be back on the front row of the grid.
However, it all very nearly ended in tears for Vettel and Red Bull. After being forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix with just five laps on the board because of an engine problem, Vettel was called into the pits after posting just one lap time in Q1 on Saturday due to another problem. Thankfully for the team, it was merely a case of resetting the car and sending the German driver out again.
“My heartbeat was rising very quickly in Q1 when we realised there was an issue,” Vettel admitted after qualifying. “We came in and restarted the car, which seemed to solve the problem and after that it was fine.”
Eventually, Vettel qualified in second place and finished just 0.055 seconds behind pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, but – being the four-time champion he is – was left frustrated by such a minor margin. Upon seeing the results, the German driver exclaimed: “Six-hundredths! You’re kidding!” before congratulating Hamilton on his second pole position of the season.
“Q3 was not perfect,” Vettel admitted. “It was very close, maybe too close, as if you look at the margin it was possible to go faster, but then if Lewis would have had another chance he would have improved also.
“So ‘would should, could’ – at the end of the day it’s good to be on the front row and it should be the good side of the grid for tomorrow. It depends on how our start is, but I’m happy with the result.”
After a disastrous winter testing programme and a poor start to the season in Australia, Vettel will be delighted to have finally found some form and pushed Hamilton and Mercedes in the fight for pole position.
Although he might struggle to beat Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the dry on Sunday, the weather forecast suggests that rain could play a part, and perhaps give Vettel a chance of securing his fourth victory in Malaysia.