Another weather dependent qualifying led to Sebastian Vettel clinching two poles from two with the Ferrari’s of Massa and Alonso retrospectively lining up behind to round out the top three. It comes partly as a surprise for Red Bull as in Q1 Vettel was two places away from being eliminated in the first round along with the two Caterham’s, two Marrusia’s, the Williams of Valteri Bottas and John-Eric Vergne two tenths away from making it into the next round with a 1m 38.157.
Q2 bought back the dominance of Nico Rosberg in the interchanging conditions with rain on the rain leaving some like Romain Grosjean leaving it too late to put a good time in before the rain came down to heavily on turn 6 and the penultimate corner. Paul Di Resta spun out leaving him out in 15th after making mistakes on both of his hot laps.
After a sudden surge of rain on the whole track all cars were left to switch to the intermediates for the final ten minutes of qualifying. Sutil, Perez, Rosberg and Button were the first ones to test out the grip of the track leaving Raikkonen, both Ferrari’s and the RB9 of Vettel to go all out for pole as the track dried out. Within the first lap for the champion, Vetttel went back into the pits to put on a new pair of boots with Fernando and Felipe both hot-footing back to the pits after him. With the track drying out the more the drivers were racing on it meant that whoever crossed the line last before the chequered flag were in best contention to set the quickest time.
Things were looking good for Webber as he set an impressive time of 1m 52.244s just for Hamilton to surpass that and within the ending moments Alonso making short work of that time just before Vettel confirmed his place on pole. To create further excitement inside the top ten Massa wedged his way in between Vettel and his team-mate setting up a must-see run down to the first corner tomorrow afternoon in Kuala Lumpur.
We heard on the radio Mark Webber after being told he was P5 that it was “unbelievable” with him thinking he had another lap but after backing up too much and letting Hamilton passed he missed the time with Team Principle Christian Horner re-establishing that it was driver error, not team error that led to the result for the Aussie.
Kimi Raikkonen was handed a three place grid penalty after impeding the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg whilst he was on a hot lap. So the top 10 on the grid are as follows:
1. Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Massa (Ferrari)
3. Alonso (Ferrari)
4. Hamilton (Mercedes-Benz)
5. Webber (Red Bull)
6. Rosberg (Mercedes-Benz)
7. Button (McLaren)
8. Sutil (Force India)
9. Perez (McLaren)
10. Raikkonen (Lotus) (3-place grid penalty)
So time for predictions?
Im going to say Alonso 1st, Massa 2nd and Vettel 3rd. Being in a Ferrari Sandwich down the 1km straight can only be a bad thing for Vettel and the only thing that can fend them both off is the Red Bull’s raw pace but it hasn’t paid dividends for them as they ruin their tyres faster than everyone else. I expect Kimi to get back up to the 4th as the cars ahead of him are evidently slower but with rain expected during the race I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Force India creeping into the points either.