Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying: Sebastien Vettel takes pole as Lewis Hamilton starts in fourth

 

Sebastian Vettel mastered the tricky conditions to make it back-to-back pole positions to start the new Formula One season.

A short burst of rain struck the Sepang International Circuit five minutes from the end of the second period of qualifying ahead of tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix.

It made for an all-guns-blazing top shoot-out on the intermediate wet tyres, with reigning triple world champion Vettel again emerging top dog to claim the 38th pole of his F1 career.

The surprise is who will start alongside him on the front row as Ferrari's Felipe Massa managed to edge team-mate Fernando Alonso at the death.

It will be the first time in three years Massa has started from such a position on the grid, going back to the opening Bahrain Grand Prix of the 2010 season.

Behind the leading trio will be Lewis Hamilton, who admitted coming into the weekend his lack of confidence in his Mercedes in the wet, but who temporarily was on pole before falling down the order.

Red Bull's Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes occupy the third row of the grid, followed by Australian Grand Prix winner from last weekend in Kimi Raikkonen who lines up seventh on the grid.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh had expressed his hope ahead of qualifying for some rain to spice things up and give his drivers a chance.

But Jenson Button could only manage eighth and Sergio Perez 10th, with Force India's Adrian Sutil separating the McLaren duo.

The rain certainly played its part in Q2 also, preventing Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Force India's Paul Di Resta from getting in a second timed run, and with it a crack at the top 10.

The Frenchman will start 11th ahead of Sauber duo Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez who line up 12th and 14th either side of a strong 13th place for Daniel Ricciardo in his Toro Rosso.

As for Di Resta, he had two attempts at a second hot lap, but ran wide on his first run as rain was starting to fall over one area before spinning through 270 degrees at the same corner on his second effort.

The Scot will now start 15th alongside Williams' Pastor Maldonado.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas in the other Williams were the drivers this week to join the Marussias and Caterhams in the bottom six.

Vergne will line up 17th and Bottas 18th, but the major surprise was Jules Bianchi in the Marussia finishing just half a second away from a place in Q2.

Marussia have made considerable strides this season, and with Ferrari academy driver and former Force India reserve Bianchi behind the wheel, the Frenchman is proving a revelation.

Bianchi will line up 19th, finishing just under a second clear of Caterham's Charles Pic, with Marussia team-mate Max Chilton 1.2secs down and starting 21st.

At least British rookie Chilton, who had been slowest in each of the three practice sessions, again avoided last place on the grid as that honour belongs to Caterham's Giedo van der Garde.

Vettel finished nine tenths of a second clear of Massa after making the switch to a set of fresh intermediate tyres towards the end of Q3, which gave him the edge.

"It was an interesting qualifying session," said Red Bull star Vettel.

"In Q2 we were quite on the edge, so probably the rain helped a bit because I would have had to have gone out again.

"Then in Q3, with the circuit drying, it was better to change tyres. We confirmed that early, did the right thing.

"I'm a bit surprised by the gap because it was quite tricky out there with some parts of the track wet and some dry.

"For the race, it will all be about managing the tyres."

Massa, who also enjoyed a second set of fresh inters, said: "I'm not sure if we would have been second and third in the dry, so it was a good qualifying from us.

"We took the right decision to change the tyres and I managed to put a good lap in."

Alonso, on the occasion of his 200th grands prix, is hopeful of building on his runner-up position in Melbourne last Sunday.

"We're not sure of the performance, the car's race pace, we're a little inconsistent, sometimes good, sometimes not," he said.

"In Melbourne the race pace was okay, so we've no reason not to be optimistic for tomorrow."

PA

Arts & Entertainment
Madonna in her music video for 'Like A Virgin'
music... and other misheard song lyrics
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
News
The energy drink MosKa was banned for containing a heavy dose of the popular erectile dysfunction Levitra
news
News
Much of the colleges’ land is off-limits to locals in Cambridge, with tight security
educationAnd has the Cambridge I knew turned its back on me?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Sport
Australia's Dylan Tombides competes for the ball with Adal Matar of Kuwait during the AFC U-22 Championship Group C match in January
sportDylan Tombides was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011
News
Ida Beate Loken has been living at the foot of a mountain since May
newsNorwegian gives up home comforts for a cave
Extras
indybest10 best gardening gloves
News
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session
peopleBizarre TV claim
Arts & Entertainment
tvIt might all be getting a bit much, but this is still the some of the finest TV ever made, says Grace Dent
Arts & Entertainment
Comedian Lenny Henry is calling for more regulation to support ethnic actors on TV
tvActor and comedian leads campaign against 'lack of diversity' in British television
News
Posted at the end of March, this tweeted photo was a week off the end of their Broadway shows
people
News
peopleStar to remain in hospital for up to 27 days to get over allergic reaction
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
Life & Style
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit