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 and Entertainment
books
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
people
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from the rise of Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
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

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution