Lewis Hamilton posted the second consecutive pole position in as many races this year. He was a tenth quicker than his teammate, Jenson Button, who will join him on the front row for tomorrow's race. Michael Schumacher is the fastest man behind them, followed by Mark Webber.
Tooday's qualifying session is entirely dry, following short showers earlier in the day.
The first man to take the track is Pic, but by the first corner he's already passed by Di Resta. The latter is apparently very eager to be the first man to set a flying lap.
It takes a few more minutes before the big guns come out, with Rosberg initially taking the lead. Button is well on it as well.
Hamilton meanwhile had another hot moment as he nearly crashed off the track. His left front brake appeared to give a way a lot of carbon dust, signalling a possible near end of life for the pads or the disc itself. The Brit still managed to keep his car under control and could rejoin the track with a tarmac run-off.
5 minutes from the end of Q1, Michael Schumacher emerged on top of the timesheet, ahead of Button, Rosberg, Hamilton and Raikkonen. At that time, Massa, Petrov, Kobalainen, Glock, Pic, de la Rosa and Karthikeyan are not qualified yet.
In the last minute dash, Massa is the first out and moves up to 11th on his first attempt. Apart from him, nobody really managed to improve enough to get into Q2, hence dropping out Vergne, Kovalainen, Petrov, Glock, Pic, de la Rosa and Karthikeyan.
Mark Webber was also out in the closing stages and managed to set the best time of Q1 with a 1:37.172.
Some time after the green light for Q2, Serio Pérez in the Sauber is the first to take the track. He is on the medium tyres, the softer Pirelli tyre here at Malaysia. Kobayashi followed his teammate.
The first really competitive time however came from Kimi Raikkonen as he set a 1:36.715, quicker than the first laps of anyone. The Finn however, no matter what his qualifying position will be, will be dropped 5 places on the grid due to a penalty.
Maldonado meanwhile ended up in the gravel trap as he slightly overcooked turn 7. He went too wide on the kerbs and was eventually fortunate not to hit the tyre wall. The Williams driver managed to get out of the gravel and return to the pits where his team immediately got on to remove all gravel from the car.
2 minutes from the end, Alonso and Massa are still in trouble to make it through to Q3. Massa is the first on track and improves to 8th. Alonso, half a minute later is up in 6th, in between the Red Bull cars of Webber and Vettel.
Another minute later, Pérez improves as well as Maldonado, provisionally ousting Schumacher. Rosberg is the first to secure a Q3 positon as he posts 3rd while Schumacher puts in a 4th best time in the closing stages.
This means Maldonado is 11th, ahead of Massa, Senna, Di Resta, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg and Kobayashi.
As the light goes green for Q3, Raikkonen immediately takes the track and is followed by both McLarens and then both Red Bull cars. Grosjean went on track in between the Red Bulls.
With 6 drivers having set a lap 6 minutes into the session, Hamilton is on top, 4 tenths ahead of his teammate. Raikkonen is third, Webber 4th, Grosjean 5th and Vettel 6th.
The Mercedes cars waited a bit to come out, but with everybody back in the pits, Rosberg sets the third fastest time, ahead of Raikkonen. Schumacher does even better and ends up ahead of Button into second place.
At the very end, Pérez takes the track for an attempt as well, posting 9th. Alonso at that time is still on track for a single lap run in Q3. Alonso, when eventually passing the line is 9th, ahead only of Pérez.
The final attempts by the top drivers kept Hamilton on top while Button joins him on the front row. Schumacher is third, ahead of Webber and Raikkonen. The latter however will be moved back 5 places, allowing Vettel to by 5th on the grid with Grosjean 6th.
It should be noted though that while Vettel seemed unable to match the leaders' pace, the World Champion was the only one running on the hard Pirelli tyres, offering different possibilities for tomorrow's first stint.
|3||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG||1:37.517||1:37.017||1:36.391||14|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:37.172||1:37.375||1:36.461||19|
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:38.102||1:37.419||1:36.634||14|
|8||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:37.696||1:36.996||1:36.664||14|
|14||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.325||1:37.877||-||15|
|16||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.303||1:37.890||-||13|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:42.914||-||-||4|