March 23rd, 2013 (F1plus/C. Cameron-Dow).- Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix with a stunning lap in wet conditions. Felipe Massa will start third, ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.
The big surprise in Q1 was the lack of pace of the Red Bulls. Webber and Vettel did not bother with the hard tyres and instead went out only on the mediums. Both drivers required two flying laps to make it through to Q2, neither seeming able to produce a particularly quick lap in the first part of qualfiying.
Marussia's Jules Bianchi impressed once again, only half a second away from proceeding to Q2, almost a second quicker than Pic’s Caterham and 1.2 seconds faster than his own team-mate Max Chilton. As expected, both Marussias and both Caterhams were eliminated in Q1. They were joined by the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne.
Q2 saw a minor revival from Red Bull. After struggling in Q1, Webber set the second fastest Q2 time, a quarter of a second off fastest man Nico Rosberg and just ahead of other Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Vettel was not quite so quick, but managed to do enough for ninth place and thereby ensured he would make it through to the final part of qualifying.
The rain came down partway through Q2, which caused some upsets for the drivers who had not managed to set a competitive time in the dry. Paul Di Resta lost out on a chance to progress to Q3 – he made a mistake on his first run, and by the time he was back out on track it was too wet for a competitive time. He tried nonetheless, but had to hold a massive slide on his first attempt and spun on his second attempt. Romain Grosjean also lost out due to the rain. He was eleventh and went out for a second run but was unable to improve due to the moisture on the track.
Drivers eliminated in Q2: Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Di Resta and Maldonado.
Q3 started and remained wet, but the rain was not particularly intense and the lap times fell through the 10 minute session. Adrian Sutil set the initial pace with a 1:58.293, but that was immedaitely beaten as the track started to dry out. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton each had a lengthly stint at the top of the times, and it looked like Hamilton might have done enough for pole with a lap of 1:51.699, but he ended up fourth as Vettel, Massa and Alonso all put in faster times in the dying stages of Q3.
Vettel's pole lap of 1:49.674 was sublime, almost a full second faster than Massa in second. Fernando Alonso qualified third ahead of Hamilton, Webber and Rosberg. Kimi Raikkonen will start the race seventh, as he did last week in Australia, and will be ahead of Button, Sutil and Sergio Perez.
Full results of qualifying:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.899||1:37.245||1:49.674||13|
|5||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.619||1:36.449||1:52.244||14|
|9||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:36.809||1:36.834||1:53.439||12|
|15||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:37.493||1:44.509||10|
|16||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||1:37.867||No time||10|
|22||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:39.932||6|
|Q1 107% Time||1:43.585|