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

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
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

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin