Hamilton takes pole in rain soaked Sepang
Red Bull show signs of improvement with second place
Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix after rain once again played a key part of the Grand Prix weekend in Sepang thus far.
Hamilton’s lap of 1:59.431 was fast enough to secure pole position by 0.055 seconds ahead of second placed Sebastian Vettel, whilst Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg qualified third to complete the ‘podium’ of qualifying. It is Hamilton’s second consecutive pole position for the 2014 season.
Q1 finally got underway after monsoon type rain caused 50 minute delay to the start of Qualifying – with heavy standing water on track as the rain fell; the FIA had no choice but to wait out the rain in order for the track to become safe for the drivers to take to the circuit.
When Q1 did get going at 4:40pm local time, teams and drivers alike wasted no time in getting out onto track in order to get a fast lap in with further threats of more rainfall later in the afternoon. There was a flurry of action for those who patiently waiting to see the starts and all 22 competing cars were soon on track as the green light signified the start of qualifying.
Mercedes were first out onto the track with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lining up one and two at the pit lane exit with almost the entire field lined up behind them. Caterham’s Marcus Ericcson did not make it far though, failing to get the car started from his position of third in line forcing those behind to go around him.
Rosberg and Hamilton were quick to set the early pace, clocking laps in the wet on the intermediate Pirelli tyre compound; the tyre of choice for most of the field. Just eight minutes into Q1 though, the rain started to come down again and teams quickly retreated to their respective garages. The rain was not bad enough to stop the session though, and action on track ensured that although the rain was falling, the track remained relatively dry.
The session did come to a premature end, albeit by just 35 seconds, when Q1 was red flagged after Magnus Ericcson crashed due to the wet track conditions sending his Caterham through the gravel trap, into the wall, and back out onto the track leaving a string of debris across the track.
As the chequered flag fell on the first wet session of qualifying, Lotus F1’s Pastor Maldonado was a disappointing dropout, unable to get his car set up to his likings in the wet conditions. He’ll start from P17 for tomorrows race with Sauber’s Adrian Sutil just behind. Jules Bianchi will start for Marussia in P19 alongside Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi, whilst Max Chilton and Marcus Ericcson start at the back of the grid.
As Q2 got underway in the rain, Mercedes were once again quick to get out of their garages, lining up first and second at the end of the pit lane again, this time using the full wet Pirelli compound. Strategies were split to start Q2 though as some drivers, including Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, took to the track with the intermediate tyres.
Just a few minutes into Q2 and another Red Flag was shown on track, bringing an abrupt stop to the session without any lap times posted from any driver. The red flag came after Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat had a collision with Fernando Alonso, breaking Alonso’s front suspension and leaving debris on the slippery track surface. The session soon got underway again though and the pack was quick to line up at the end of the pit lane, still conscious that the weather could change at any point of the afternoon.
The remainder of Q2 then went without fault to the end and as the session came to a close, another seven drivers dropped out of qualifying leaving the final ten to compete for pole position in Q3. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, after recovering from a collision earlier in the session with Alonso, did well to place P11 for the Grand Prix tomorrow with Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez is just behind in 12th. Williams’ Racing’s Massa and Bottas are split by the Force India of Sergio Perez with Romain Grosjean qualifying just ahead of his teammate in P17.
In keeping with the two sessions previous, drivers wasted no time joining the track in Q3, making the most of the new 12 minute session which has been introduced for 2014. Kimi Raikkonen set the early pace, only to be pushed down the pack as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel fought their way to the front.
As the session came to a close, Sebastian Vettel, showing signs of improvement in pace for the Red Bull Racing team, made a driver error and was unable to cross the finish line to start one last timed lap before the chequered flag fell, leaving him unable to compete for pole position. Vettel would remain second whilst Rosberg’s final lap of the afternoon bumped Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso into fourth. Daniel Riccardo starts fifth in the second RB10 with Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne placing sixth to ninth. McLaren’s Jenson Button will start from P10 tomorrow.
The 2014 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix is scheduled to start tomorrow, March 30th at 16:00 local time.
|Pos.||Driver||Team||Q1 time||Q2 time||Q3 time|
|01||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:57.202||1:59.041||1:59.431|
|02||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault||1:57.654||1:59.399||1:59.486|
|03||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:57.183||1:59.445||2:00.050|
|05||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||1:58.913||2:00.147||2:00.541|
|07||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||1:58.883||2:00.839||2:01.712|
|08||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes||2:00.358||2:02.094||2:02.213|
|09||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso Renault||2:01.689||2:02.096||2:03.078|
|10||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||2:00.889||2:01.810||2:04.053|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Renault||2:01.175||2:02.351|
|12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber Ferrari||2:01.134||2:02.369|
|13||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||2:00.047||2:02.460|
|14||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||2:00.076||2:02.511|
|15||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||1:59.709||2:02.756|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Lotus Renault||2:00.202||2:02.885|
|17||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus Renault||2:02.074|
|18||Adrian Sutil||Sauber Ferrari||2:02.131|
|19||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Ferrari||2:02.702|
|20||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham Renault||2:03.795|
|21||Max Chilton||Marussia Ferrari||2.04:388|
|22||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham Renault||2:04.407|