T he two McLaren went into qualifying in Malaysia as favorites and they didn't disappoint. However, the fans of the British racing team were getting a little restless. In the third practice session and the first two qualifying laps, the names of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button did not appear at the very top of the rankings. Only when it came down to it in the exciting top ten final did the two British world champions unpack the hammer.
Hamilton drove the fastest lap with 1: 26.219 minutes, starting from pole position as in Australia. 'We made some good setup changes. That way we could withstand the pressure of the others', said a happy Hamilton afterwards.
Button was one and a half tenths missing on his team-mate. In the race, however, the balance of power could turn around again. On Sepang's rubber-killing course, Button wants to play out his skills as a tire whisperer again. 'Lewis put in a really great lap at the beginning of Q3. Tomorrow it could be very exciting at the start. We know that Mercedes is very strong there.'
Schumacher races to third place
The big sensation of qualifying starts from third place. Michael Schumacher was able to get the full potential of his Silver Arrow and get the best qualifying result since his comeback in 2010. 'That was the maximum today. Everything is very close. We can be more than happy,' said Schumi happily. 'We're all a little worried about the tires. But we learned our lesson in Australia and hopefully made progress.'
Team-mate Nico Rosberg couldn't keep up with the old master's pace. In the last section, the youngster was three tenths short of the record champion - only eighth. 'Unfortunately, I made a mistake. It's really disappointing. Our car is actually pretty good in qualifying, we didn't have any problems with the tires today. For tomorrow we have done a lot with regard to the rear tire wear. That will certainly be better than in Melbourne. ' Before that, Rosberg had never lost a qualifying in Malaysia against a team-mate.
Webber beats Vettel
Schumacher has to share the second row with Mark Webber, the Australian team-mate Sebastian Vettel beat loosely. The world champion is only sixth. 'I think it wasn't our session,' the champion complained afterwards. 'At theIn the beginning it went pretty well on the hard tires. Then I couldn't cope with the soft tires. That's why we switched back to hard tires in Q3. I hope that it will work out well in the race tomorrow. '
Kimi Räikkönen placed between the two Red Bulls. With fifth place, the Finn, like Schumi, achieved his best qualification result since the comeback However, the Iceman will only start the race from tenth place on Sunday. An unplanned gear change throws Raikkonen five places back. Teammate Romain Grosjean was unable to follow the 2007 world champion this time. Thanks to the penalty against Raikkonen, the Frenchman slipped up from seventh six up.
Fernando Alonso in ninth place also benefits from the penalty. Once again the Spaniard was the only Ferrari in the top ten. With four tenths, the much-criticized Felipe Massa was able to fall behind in twelfth place Sauber driver Sergio Perez, who has already been traded as a possible successor to Massa, was the last driver to make it into the top ten ninth place.
Maldonado mistake costs top ten place
Williams was actually expected to make it into the top ten. But Pastor Maldonado pounded through the gravel bed in the second knockout round and damaged the sub-floor. Despite the battered car, he only missed the top ten by a tenth. Team mate Bruno Senna had a functioning car but not the speed. Only starting position 13 for the Brazilian.
For Nico Hülkenberg it was the first training defeat of the season. After starting from ninth place on the grid in Melbourne, the Force India driver clearly missed the final qualifying lap in 16th place. Team mate Paul di Resta (14th place) was only 13 thousandths missing. 'The midfield is incredibly tight and a 16th place can quickly emerge,' apologized Hülk. 'At the moment we don't quite see which tires are faster. Sometimes you drive faster on the harder ones here.' Formula 1 had entered. As is so often the case, the order was Caterham before Marussia before Hispania. It is remarkable that Heikki Kovalainen was only three seconds short of the last driver in midfield in Q1. This time it got Toro Rosso rookie Jean-Eric Vergne, who also had to give up in the first section.
Kovalainen has to drop five places
Kovalainen will still not win can look forward to 19th place. After he had overtaken illegally in the safety car phase in Australia, he was downgraded five places in Malaysia. He will start from the very last place on Sunday. In front of him are the two HRT, both of which were able to cross the 107 percent hurdle for the first time this season. At NarainKarthikeyan's three tenths were just enough to qualify for the race.
Timo Glock also benefits from the penalty against Kovalainen. The Marussia pilot slipped one position forward from his regular 21st place. 'We have significantly reduced the gap that we had to the top in Melbourne. That's why I am very happy,' said Hesse afterwards. 'I didn't have that good feeling with the tires in qualifying and I made two small mistakes on the last lap. For tomorrow I just hope to get through without any problems.'
In our photo gallery we have the best pictures from qualifying Saturday in Sepang.