Qualifying analysis - will it be deja vu for Vettel? 23 Mar 2013
After Force Indias Adrian Sutil set the fastest time in Q1, which was run in super-hot conditions, Nico Rosberg went fastest for Mercedes in Q2 before rain fell with six minutes to go. Q3 was run in rain all the way through, and everyone was obliged to run Pirellis intermediates. It was Sebastian Vettel who timed everything to perfection, but will it be the same story as Melbourne come the race? We take a look at the Saturday form at Sepang
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 49.674s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 52.244s, P5
The rain spared Vettel the need to venture out in Q2 to defend a slightly vulnerable ninth place, which meant he saved some tyres. But he was happy to change to a fresh set of intermediates towards the end of Q3, and that proved crucial in earning him his 38th career pole. Theres still some uncertainty over his Red Bull RB9s race pace, but hes starting in the best place. Team mate Webber was fastest for a fleeting second before Hamilton went faster, but fell to fifth as Vettel and the Ferraris swept ahead in the closing minutes. He was frustrated to mistime his final run.
Felipe Massa, 1m 50.587s, P2
Fernando Alonso, 1m 50.727s, P3
Changing late on in Q3 to new intermediates was also the key to Ferraris best qualifying form for a long time. For the fourth time in succession Massa pipped Alonso, but both drivers are happy and believe that they have a very strong chance whether the race is wet or dry.
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 51.699s, P4
Nico Rosberg, 1m 52.519s, P6
Hamilton said that the balance of his car wasnt great when the track was dry but was happy with his Q3 laps, especially as he was running older intermediates than the three drivers who eventually beat him. Hes hoping for a dry race. Rosberg looked good again in Q1 and Q2, but his tyres were worn in Q3 and he admitted that he didnt get a decent lap together. Later, Raikkonen was given a three-place grid penalty for impeding him.
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 52.970s, P7
Romain Grosjean, 1m 37.636, P11
Raikkonen struggled badly in FP3, but was happier with his car in qualifying until the balance went awry in the wet in Q3. He was also unhappy to be given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg in Turn 14. Grosjean should have made Q3, but ran off the road trying to go faster in Q2, just after setting the fastest first sector time.
Jenson Button, 1m 53.175s, P8
Sergio Perez, 1m 54.136s, P10
McLaren were quietly pleased with the way the MP4-28 performed on a smooth track that enabled them to run the ride height they couldnt in Australia. Yesterday Button said he wanted a wet race; today he was mystified as to why the car worked less well on the intermediates. Both drivers felt they had taken a step forward, however.
Adrian Sutil, 1m 53.439s, P9
Paul di Resta, 1m 44.509s, P15
Sutil was the sensation of Q1, perhaps as others were taking it (relatively) gently on their rubber. He said he was really happy with his pace on the mediums, but was much less happy with the intermediates when the rain came, as the VJM06 was oversteering badly. Di Resta was unlucky in Q2. He was purple in the first two sectors but then, for unexplained reasons, aborted the lap. Later there was no time to get in a good one, as it had started raining. He ran wide in one corner, and later had a multiple spin in the slippery conditions.
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 38.125s, P12
Esteban Gutierrez, 1m 39.221s, P14
Hulkenberg went out in Q2 on used mediums, and because the teams radar was broken they didnt spot the weather approaching. Had they done so they would have used new mediums and given their drivers a better shot at Q3. The German also said his car lacked balance. Gutierrez experienced similar problems.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 38.822s, P13
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 38.157s, P17
Ricciardo was delighted with 13th in Q2, but said he might have hoped for even more after being within a tenth of the top 10 in Q1. Vergne was frustrated to lose four to five-tenths of a second behind another car towards the end of his final Q1 lap, but at least saved a set of dry-weather tyres for the race.
Pastor Maldonado, No Q2 time, P16
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 38.207s, P18
Williams had a disappointing time, having looked more competitive at stages during the weekend.
Jules Bianchi, 1m 38.434s, P19
Max Chilton, 1m 39.672s, P21
Once again Bianchi starred, with an excellent lap in Q1 that put the Marussia in respectable territory. Chilton at times got close to the Frenchman, but wasnt able to stage the same improvement when it mattered.
Charles Pic, 1m 39.314s, P20
Giedo van der Garde, 1m 39.932s, P22
Pic was very happy with FP3 and thought that Caterham had made a lot of progress with the CT03, but was unable to dial out persistent understeer in Q1. Van der Garde, by contrast, found his car oversteering badly on the mediums in Q1.
For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.