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Qualifying analysis - Vettel capitalises on wet conditions 29 Mar 2014

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari F14 T.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India VJM07.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, 28 March 2014 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) McLaren MP4-29 went off track after spinning at the final turn in Q2.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Daniil Kvyat (RUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Sauber C33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams talks with the media.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 (L to R): Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E22 and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) McLaren MP4-29.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 Jules Bianchi (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014 The crashed car of Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Caterham CT05 is recovered in FP1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 29 March 2014

Once again rain enlivened a 2014 qualifying session, leaving teams with some tricky decisions to make on Pirelli’s full wet and intermediate tyres. Mercedes managed things best as McLaren always seemed to be on the back foot, but Red Bull were also in with a shout throughout. The three sessions went ahead after a 50-minute delay, but by the end of Q3 things were getting very murky indeed. We review each team’s performance…

Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 59.431s, P1
Nico Rosberg, 2m 00.050s, P3

Mercedes owned qualifying, with either Hamilton or Rosberg leading each session, but it was tight between the Englishman and Vettel right at the end. Hamilton eventually triumphed by five-hundredths of a second and thus equalled the great Jim Clark’s tally of 33 poles to become joint best British qualifier. Rosberg didn’t quite get things done after switching to new wets for his final Q3 run, but said he was happy with third on the grid.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 59.486s, P2
Daniel Ricciardo, 2m 00.541s, P5

For a moment in Q1 it seemed that Vettel was in trouble as he was told to pit because of a “car problem”, but resetting its electronics fixed that and thereafter he was able to attack and second on the grid was proof that Red Bull are back in the hunt in such conditions, even if the gap remains sizeable to Mercedes in the dry. Ricciardo looked strong too, but complained that Bottas impeded him on his second run. He had to be content with fifth place, as the Finn got docked three grid places for his indiscretion. If it’s wet for the race, Red Bull are in with a great chance.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 2m 00.175s, P4
Kimi Raikkonen, 2m 01.218s, P6

Ferrari have looked much stronger all weekend, and just when it seemed that disaster had struck Alonso with his early clash in Q2 with Kvyat, some brilliant teamwork got some front suspension damage fixed in double quick time. The Spaniard grabbed all of that good fortune and turned it into third fastest time until Rosberg pipped him in the last minutes, but fourth on the grid was a sign of the F14 T’s true potential. Raikkonen has been much happier with his car here, too, and looked respectable in sixth. Watch out for Ferrari in the race.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 2m 01.712s, P7
Sergio Perez, 2m 02.511s, P14

What a great job Force India continue to do. Perez might still be struggling to find his pace, but Hulkenberg proved yet again what star quality he has with seventh place on the grid and will be a strong contender for points come the race.

McLaren
Kevin Magnussen, 2m 02.213s, P8
Jenson Button, 2m 04.053s, P10

Too many chiefs, not enough Indians springs to mind when you look at what McLaren did in qualifying. Their morning was a disaster as a software issue kept both drivers in the garage in FP3, and that put them on their back foot. Perhaps they had to gamble on wets in Q1, but that proved a mistake. Q2 wasn’t so bad, until Magnussen slid into the gravel in Turn 15, but they got away with that too and had both cars in Q3. But then they gambled on intermediates for both, and that was wrong. Magnussen pitted for wets and made it to eighth place, but Button persisted on the inters hoping for a crossover point that never came.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, 2m 03.078s, P9
Daniil Kvyat, 2m 02.351s, P11

Once again Vergne rose to the occasion, bursting through late in Q2 to snatch the final Q3 slot and then ninth place. Kvyat was lucky to survive a brush with Alonso in Q2, and seemed to have made it into Q3 after bumping Gutierrez, only himself to be bumped - by his team leader.

Sauber
Esteban Gutierrez, 2m 02.369s, P12
Adrian Sutil, 2m 02.131, P18, will start P17

While Gutierrez was generally happy with progress that he and his crew made with his C33 in FP3, and with its balance in Q1 and subsequent 12th grid place, Sutil lamented the Ericsson red flag in that latter session but in any case said that his car was still difficult to drive with its ongoing rear braking shortcomings.

Williams
Felipe Massa, 2m 02.460s, P13
Valtteri Bottas, 2m 02.756s, P15, will start P18

The rain in qualifying was exactly what Williams didn’t need with their aero-limited rear-end. Massa couldn’t better 13th, while Bottas’ Q2 gamble on intermediates didn’t work out. When the session was over he was given a three-place grid penalty for impeding Ricciardo, making it a tough day for them.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 2m 02.885s, P16, will start P15
Pastor Maldonado, 2m 02.074s, P17, will start P16

Lotus got some decent running in both FP3 and Q1, but after Grosjean got his E22 through to Q2 he spun while trying to do better than 16th overall. He was, however, only half a second off 11th place as the team finally made some good progress.

Marussia
Jules Bianchi, 2m 02.702s, P19
Max Chilton, 2m 04.388s, P21

Marussia made further progress in FP3, and despite still feeling unwell, Bianchi did a fine job with his MR03 in Q1. Chilton, who’d run ahead of him for much of the weekend, lost pace and had to be satisfied with 21st.

Caterham
Kamui Kobayashi, 2m 03.595s, P20
Marcus Ericsson, 2m 04.407s, P22

Both CT05s had problems in FP3, Kobayashi’s with software and Ericsson’s with an oil leak. Thus compromised on set-up they had to guestimate things for qualifying. Kobayashi said he couldn’t get his intermediates hot enough to push hard as a result, while Ericsson made a mistake and spun into the barriers.

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