Vettel stuns with Sepang pole
MALAYSIA, Sepang - Current world champion Sebastian Vettel beat McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton to pole position for the Malaysian GP by a little more than a mere tenth of second, in the very last moments of qualifying.
Hamilton had been running strongly ahead of the field for the duration of all three tiers of qualifying until the four fastest cars went out for a final stab at the Sepang track.
Vettel then set about recording a 1:34.870, besting Hamilton’s 1:34.974.
Vettel used KERS technology to gain the crucial advantage.
Red Bull did not use the energy-recovery technology to dominate in Melbourne two weeks ago, but championship leader Vettel said he needed it to stave off a resurgent McLaren in Malaysia by just one tenth.
"We came here and solved most of the (reliability) problems," the German said. "I think if we did not have it (KERS) today, we would not be here (on pole)."
So significant has been McLaren's progress in recent weeks that Hamilton, happy to be second best in Australia, was visibly disappointed with his P2 on the Sepang grid.
Signalling McLaren and Red Bull’s clear dominance in F1 racing, the two world champions had their team mates fill the second row of the grid too, with Mark Webber qualifying third and Jenson Button fourth.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest, with Renault’s replacement driver, Nick Heidfield, showing impressive pace again – to qualifying sixth.
Rounding out the top ten were Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi.
Eliminated in the second qualifying session were former multiple world champion Michael Schumacher, Paul Di Resta, Rubens Barrichello, Adrian Sutil, Jamie Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi and Sergio Perez.
The Spanish HRT managed to qualify within the 107% rule timeframe, allowing them to start their first GP of the 2011 season, after the disappointment of Australia.
Despite its tropical location, qualifying stayed remarkably dry for the Malaysian GP. This is just as well, as most drivers have little or no experience of wet-weather driving with the new Pirelli tyres.
Malaysian GP qualifying time sheet:
1 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull-Renault)) 1min34.870
2 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)) 1min34.974 +0.104
3 Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault)) 1min35.179 +0.309
4 Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes)) 1min35.200 +0.330
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)) 1min35.802 +0.932
6 Nick Heidfeld (Renault)) 1min36.124 +1.254
7 Felipe Massa (Ferrari)) 1min36.251 +1.381
8 Vitaly Petrov (Renault)) 1min36.324 +1.454
9 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)) 1min36.809 +1.939
10 Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber-Ferrari)) 1min36.820 +1.950
Q3 cut-off time: 1min36.811
11 Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) 1min37.035 +1.466
12 Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1min37.160 +1.591
13 Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1min37.347 +1.778
14 Paul di Resta (Force India-Mercedes) 1min37.370 +1.801
15 Rubens Barrichello (Williams-Cosworth) 1min37.496 +1.927
16 Sergio Perez (Sauber-Ferrari) 1min37.528 +1.959
17 Adrian Sutil (Force India-Mercedes) 1min37.593 +2.024
Q3 cut-off time: 1min38.163
18 Pastor Maldonado (Williams-Cosworth) 1min38.276 +1.532
19 Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus-Renault) 1min38.645 +1.901
20 Jarno Trulli (Lotus-Renault) 1min38.791 +2.047
21 Timo Glock (Virgin-Cosworth) 1min40.648 +3.904
22 Jerome D'Ambrosio (Virgin-Cosworth) 1min41.001 +4.257
23 Tonio Liuzzi (HRT-Cosworth) 1min41.549 +4.805
24 Narain Karthikeyan (HRT-Cosworth) 1min42.574 +5.830
Stay with Wheels24 for the F1 weekend.