Sebastian Vettel has snared back to back pole positions after taking the 38th pole of his career in mixed conditions at Sepang.
The reigning World Champion edged out both Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso after initially looking in danger to miss Q2 after experimenting with different tyre choice. The rain began to fall during the end of Q2, and Vettel set his pole lap of nearly a second faster from Massa as he once again showed the pace of the RB9.
Massa in second out qualified Alonso for the fourth consecutive race and starts from the front row for the first time since 2010.
Lewis Hamilton showed some strong pace for Mercedes and at one point looked likely he could take a surprise pole, before eventually settling for fourth. Mark Webber took fifth ahead of Nico Rosberg.
Australian winner Kimi Raikkonen initially qualified seventh but was later penalised for blocking Rosberg, and will start from 10th after receiving a three place grid penalty. His misfortune was Jenson Button’s gain, with Button moving up from 8th to 7th.
Adrian Sutil was impressive in the dry conditions, setting the fastest time of Q1 and the 5th fastest time of Q2, but struggled in the wet and will start in 8th place. Sergio Perez managed to finally crack the top ten in a McLaren, and will start the race in 9th place.
Outside the top ten, the biggest scalp of Q2 was Romain Grosjean who will line up next to his team-mate in 11th place. A similar shock came from Paul di Resta, who left his runs too late when the track was wet and suffered numerous off track excursions on the way to a disappointing 15th place. Nico Hulkenberg will start from 12th, just ahead of Daniel Ricciardo who finally showed Toro Rosso can move up the midfield here in Malaysia. Esteban Gutierrez will line up 14th, with Pastor Maldonado 16th after failing to set a time in Q2.
In Q3 the two drivers who weren’t in the bottom two teams to miss out where Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso and Valtteri Bottas in the Williams. In a possible worrying sign for Bottas and the Williams team and a positive sign for Jules Bianchi and the Marussia team, Bianchi finished only two tenths off the time set by Bottas. So good was Bianchi’s time that he only missed out on making Q2 by six tenths of a second and was nearly a full second clear of his nearest rival Charles Pic in 20th place. The final two places on the grid will be made up by Max Chilton and Giedo van der Garde.
With more rain forecast for the race, all eyes will be on Sepang as the lights go green for round 2 of the 2013 Formula One World Championship!
(Images copyright Sutton & Getty Images)