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Qualifying analysis - advantage Red Bull, as rain shakes up grid 03 Apr 2010

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Lotus 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 3 April 2010

A wet qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix was always on the cards, but the sporadic nature of the showers at Sepang on Saturday upset many people’s plans. However, whilst Ferrari and McLaren struggled in the rain, Red Bull’s Mark Webber made the most of the conditions to take a well-deserved pole position. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed…

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 49.327s, P1
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 50.789s, P3

Webber survived a scare in Q2 when De la Rosa spun in front of him, and gambled on intermediate tyres in Q3 when everyone else was still on full wets. It was a sublime decision, and he deserved a comfortable pole position. Vettel stayed on full wets and was the first to congratulate him. This is a race Red Bull must win in order to get back in the championship chase, and they could hardly be starting it from better positions.

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, 1m 50.673s, P2
Michael Schumacher, 1m 51.717s, P8

Once again it was Rosberg who rose to the occasion for Mercedes. He admitted that he very nearly came in to change to intermediates, but in the end staying on full wets was good enough for the first front-row start of his Formula One career. Schumacher said he was disappointed with eighth, but had wanted to get a banker lap and then push hard, only to find that his tyres were finished by then.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 50.914s, P4
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 52.254s, P10

Sutil really rose to the occasion for Force India and was a worthy fourth. Liuzzi reported a problem with a locking front brake on his final run in Q3. Now the trick for the little team will be to convert strong grid positions into a double points haul in the race.

Williams
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 51.001s, P5
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 51.511s, P7

This was Williams’s best qualifying performance in a long while, with fifth and seventh places. Hulkenberg said the FW32 felt really good in the wet and that he thought he might have been able to go a little quicker with slightly better fortune. Barrichello rued not switching to intermediates.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 51.051s, P6
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 48.760s, P11

Kubica liked the feel of the R30 in the wet and easily made it through to Q3. But, thinking the rain would get worse, he pushed really hard on his first run in Q3 and that rooted his tyres. Petrov showed well on intermediates in Q2 but was unlucky to wind up 11th.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 51.767s, P9
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 48.771s, P12

Kobayashi was not surprisingly delighted with a Q3 run and ninth place, even though he spun on his last lap in Q2. De la Rosa looked strong for a while, but said he didn’t get the clear lap he needed in Q2. Nevertheless, ninth and 12th on the grid was a boost for the BMW Sauber team after their recent problems.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 49.207s, P13
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 49.464s, P14

Buemi was annoyed that he didn’t make the most of Q2, having looked strong in Q1, and said he stayed on full wets too long only to encounter rain once he had switched to intermediates. Alguersuari ran him close and also thought he might have done better had he switched sooner to inters in the same session.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 52.270s, P15
Jarno Trulli, 1m 52.884s, P18

Lotus were delighted to get through to Q2 for the first time, and Heikki Kovalainen said it exceeded both his and the team’s expectations. His eventual 15th place on the grid gave the young team their best-ever start. Trulli was disappointed to miss out because he was doing well until a car spun in front of him on his quickest Q1 lap.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 52.520s, P16
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 59.977s, P24

Like Lotus, Virgin made it through to Q2 courtesy of Glock, and also enjoyed their highest grid place yet. The German was delighted with the way things went, but felt they could have been ahead of Kovalainen if they had pitted earlier in Q2 for inters. Di Grassi suffered another blocked gearbox oil filter in morning practice which required a rear-end stripdown, which could not be completed in time to get him out when Q1 conditions were at their most favourable.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 52.211s, P17
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 53.050s, P20

McLaren did exactly what Ferrari did, and got their drivers out too late. Button didn’t help by spinning off in treacherous Turn Six on his intermediate tyres, and after a spin on the same rubber Hamilton found conditions too bad on full wets to improve his speed.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 53.044s, P19
Felipe Massa, 1m 53.283s, P21

Ferrari ahead of only HRT? That showed how badly the Italian team fumbled the decision making in Q1. They didn’t get their drivers out soon enough after misjudging the weather forecast, and it was as simple as that.

HRT
Karun Chandhok, 1m 56.299s, P22
Bruno Senna, 1m 57.269s, P23

Chandhok and Senna both experienced wet conditions in the HRT for the first time, and struggled accordingly. Senna went off in Turn Six, which had a river running across the road on the entry.

David Tremayne