Hamilton back on pole in Malaysia but Vettel’s Ferrari splits the Mercedes after downpour, Rosberg 3rd fastest
Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes was fastest again in Saturday qualifying after a typical Sepang circuit downpour and delay. But the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel also showed surprising speed on Intermediate tires, trailing the favored English World Champion by less than a tenth. That meant the Scuderia’s new prize driver split the Silver Arrows and will start Sunday’s second 2015 race side-by-side with Hamilton on the front row and ahead of Nico Rosberg, who claimed P3 on the grid. If the conditions are similar on race day look for Vettel, a top perforemer in the wet, to challenge for the win and the fans loyal to the Prancing Horse to go completely bonkers.
Red Bull were also much improved in the tricky wet conditions, with Daniel Ricciardo P4 and Daniil Kvyat fifth fastest. The youngest F1 driver ever, Max Verstappen, continued to impress and managed a solid P6 for Torro Rosso. Williams gambled and lost on tire selection and Felipe Massa could do no better than 7th with teammate Valtteri Bottas, returning from a back injury that forced he and his car to miss the Autralian Grand Prix two weeks ago, having only the 9th fatsest time. Lotus again looked good on Saturday and although Sunday will be the true test Romain Grosjean drove to a solid P8 (later dropped 2 spots for a pit lane passing infraction). Marcus Ericsson had a solid run for greatly improved Sauber to capture 10th position, the Swede’s own personal best qualifying effort.
Fernado Alonso returned from his enforced time off due to concussion, which saw him miss race 1 in Australia, but McLaren were still woeful. The proud two-time World Champion was the slowest of the runners in 18th with teammate Jenson Button barely better in 17th. Safe to say it’s going to be a long year for the storied team from Woking!
Top 10 Qualifiers:
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||1:40.504||1:41.085||1:51.541||16|
|5||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Racing||1:40.546||1:41.665||1:51.951||16|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:40.793||1:41.430||1:51.981||16|
*Penalized 2 grid positions for illegal pass in pit lane
Full updated results at Autosport.com.
Sunday’s race airs live on NBC Sports at 3AM Eastern. Unless you’ve got a lot left in the tank after clubbing until then I’d recommend DVRing it and watching once you’ve had brunch.