By Daniel Wilson.
Lewis Hamilton demonstrated supreme confidence in the wet to take pole position ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The world champion narrowly edged Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who was only 0.074 seconds off the benchmark 1:49.834 time.
Nico Rosberg struggled once more in the wet Sepang weather and could only manage third on the grid, nearly half a second off his teammate. However, there may be some tension between the two Mercedes drivers after Nico appeared to block Lewis on his second flying lap in Q3, which Hamilton had improved on in the first sector.
The two Red Bull’s of Ricciardo and Kvyat looked more competitive in the wet conditions as they went 4th and 5th fastest, ahead of the impressive Max Verstappen.
Williams struggled once more in the dampness as Massa and Bottas could only manage 7th and 9th, separated by an improving Romain Grosjean, with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson rounding out the top ten.
Qualifying was a mixed result for Ferrari who are Mercedes’ nearest rivals. Kimi Raikkonen was caught out by traffic in a frantic first few minutes of Q2 before the rain came down in buckets – as it tends to do in Malaysia – and will start from 11th.
The volume of cars almost caught out Hamilton, who was bunched up behind Ericsson and Raikkonen, leaving him in 8th and 2.1 seconds behind his teammate. However, the rain came down before anyone could make any improvements as teams saw out the rest of the session in their dry garages.
McLaren Honda were victims of Q1 once more, despite an improvement in pace, as Jenson Button out-qualified teammate Fernando Alonso to 17th place, ahead of the the Manor’s or Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens, who didn’t make it out on track.
Melbourne star Felipe Nasr was left disappointed too as a scruffy lap left him in 16th place after an overwhelming debut two weeks ago.
Tomorrow’s race is a difficult one to call. In Malaysia, there is always the threat of rain, which would certainly spice things up, and could hand a fantastic opportunity for Sebastian Vettel to fight for his first Ferrari win.
But if its dry and hot, strategy is key as soaring track temperatures will hurt the tyre life, with many expecting a three stop race – either way, it should hopefully be a much better spectacle than Australia.
Can Ferrari take the fight to Mercedes on Sunday?
What can be read into Nico blocking Lewis in Q3?
Are points possible for McLaren?
Leave your thoughts and comments below!