C arlos Sainz experienced a rollercoaster of emotions in the qualification. In the first section of qualifying for the Malaysia GP, he hit the third-best lap in the asphalt. Only the two Mercedes were faster. And Sebastian Vettel drove exactly the same time of 1: 39.814 minutes to the thousandth of a second. However, Sainz had used the softer medium mixture during his attempt.
Sainz third fastest in Q1
Nevertheless: The young Spaniard's speed was astounding. Sainz poured his team mate Max Verstappen almost a second. 'I was very quick in the dry. Even better than I expected. I thought that I could get even more out of the car in the further course.' But then the conditions changed and the picture turned for Sainz. Instead of fighting for a top starting position, it caught him in Q2. The result: 15th place on the grid. 'We could have gotten a lot more out of it. The car feels really good and. We are quick in the corners.'
In the second section the clouds darkened more and more over the 5.543 kilometer circuit in Sepang. In order to be able to drive a fast lap before it started to rain, all the remaining 15 pilots stormed onto the track. Sainz, however, was one of the last drivers. A disadvantage from two points of view. The Spaniard could not optimally prepare his car and the tires for the flying attempt in traffic. In addition, the rain caught him. 'I'm very disappointed. It was a mix of unfortunate circumstances. To make matters worse, I made a rookie mistake at Turn 14 when I locked the wheels.'
Helmut Marko praises Sainz
Despite starting position 15, there was praise from high places. 'Sainz was sensationally fast. It's a shame that he was handicapped by the traffic,' said Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko after qualifying.
One's bad luck, the other's luck. The tide turned for Verstappen in the second round. With a good lap, the Dutchman moved into the third qualifying segment. There, the youngest driver in F1 history to date showed his talent in sixth place and silenced his critics. 'I had to show people that I am not too young for Formula 1. So far it has worked quite well,' said Verstappen.
Verstappen just barelyPast fifth place
However, he was not entirely satisfied. 'The car felt good in the rain. The balance was right. But we still have a problem with the brakes. We have to get a grip on that.' Specifically: Like Sainz, the 17-year-old wasted time with blocked wheels. In the last corner, however. 'Fifth place would certainly have been possible.' Daniil Kvyat took this in the Red Bull. With 0.030 seconds ahead of Verstappen.
And what's in it tomorrow? 'We want to get a lot of points. It will be difficult because both Williams and a Ferrari are behind us. But we are close to Red Bull.' Sainz, however, has to catch up. 'We can still fight for a good result. But it won't be easy to overtake Force India and Lotus on the track.'