Happy Hamilton hot on the heels of Red Bulls

Another fortnight, another track, but how quickly things change in Formula One. In Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel sat on pole position by a country mile in his Red Bull, eight-tenths of a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. Yesterday, they shared the fastest times again, but this time the world champion only beat his 2008 counterpart by 0.104s. Such are the vagaries of tyre wear, and Sepang's notoriously fickle weather, that predicting the outcome of today's race is far from easy.

The McLarens have been quick all weekend, but when the chips were down, the Red Bull – the car from Milton Keynes – just beat the car from Woking. "It was closer than Australia, and a challenging weekend until qualifying," Vettel said, after securing the 17th pole of his career. "I was happy with the car but never got into a rhythm. It was not a particular problem, things just weren't as smooth so we didn't have all the laps we wanted. There was traffic, then I did mistakes, and it didn't come together. It can be very challenging here, it takes a while to understand it. We knew we had it in the car, and the main thing was to keep believing in it. In qualifying it worked out straight away.

"Big compliments to the KERS guys, they sorted most of our problems. If we didn't have KERS we wouldn't be up here. The gap is a lot smaller than in Australia, so it shows how quickly things change."

Hamilton was philosophical about missing out on his first pole since Canada last June. "I don't think we can be disappointed. We've done a fantastic job even to be up there with the Red Bulls. We've got some more new parts here this weekend, and we are constantly moving forwards. I would have loved to have been on pole, of course, but these guys still have the slight edge. But we've closed the gap a little bit."

He admitted that his best lap was not perfect, that he had lost time in one particular corner, and that he had always expected Red Bull might have a little bit in hand. "They usually tend to pull something out of the bag going into their last run. But like I said, I can't be disappointed."

Hamilton's lap seemed enough, but after crossing the line only four seconds before the chequered flag ended the hour-long session, Vettel's time put the issue beyond doubt. And Mark Webber posted a timely upturn in fortunes after his home race, pipping Jenson Button in the other McLaren to third place. The laconic Australian said: "The race will be different to last year's, so it's going to be interesting." Indeed it is, with Pirelli predicting up to four pit stops per driver.

"The tyres don't last nearly as long here in the much hotter conditions," Vettel, the victor in 2010, said. "We'll see, but as Mark said, it'll be a quite different race. I just hope the spectators don't lose count of the pit stops."

Grid

1. S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min 34.870sec; 2. L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:34.974; 3. M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:35.179; 4. J Button (GB) McLaren 1:35.200; 5. F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:35.802; 6. N Heidfeld (Ger) Renault 1:36.124; 7. F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:36.251; 8. V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:36.324; 9. N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:36.809; 10. K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.820; 11. M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:37.035; 12. S Buemi (Swit) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.160; 13. J Alguersuari (Sp) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.347; 14. P di Resta (GB) Force India 1:37.370; 15. R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:37.496; 16. S Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.528; 17. A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:37.593; 18. P Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:38.276; 19. H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 1:38.645; 20. J Trulli (It) Lotus F1 1:38.791; 21. T Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 1:40.648; 22. J d'Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing 1:41.001; 23. V Liuzzi (It) HRT-F1 1:41.549; 24. N Karthikeyan (India) HRT-F1 1:42.574.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital