Webber gambles for pole as Ferrari and McLaren falter

2010 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying

Webber and Rosberg share the front row of the grid

Webber and Rosberg share the front row of the grid

A brilliant gamble by Mark Webber put him on pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix after a wet qualifying session in Seapang.

But several other big names called the conditions completely wrong – both Ferraris and Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren will start the race from the back three rows of the grid.


Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Sepang, 2010

The teams had expected rain to coincide with qualifying and, sure enough, the clouds opened minutes before the start of Q1.

Fifteen cars headed out of the pit lane at once as Q1 begun, including Sebastian Vettel, though most of the top teams’ drivers stayed dry in the garages.

But this proved their undoing when a second, unexpected belt of rain dropped more water on the track. The circuit had only been half-wet at best but now required full wet tyres.

This caught out several drivers. Lewis Hamilton spun at the last corner on his first lap on intermediate tyres and by the time he came around again the track was so wet he needed full wet tyres.

Jenson Button made it into Q2 with his first lap but the deeper water caught him out at turn six the next time around and he spun into the gravel trap. Vitaly Petrov followed him off, but while the Renault driver kept going Button was stuck.

Nor did either of the Ferrari drivers make it out soon enough. Fernando Alonso and Hamilton traded times at the end of the session, Alonso spinning at turn eight on one lap. They lapped within six thousandths of a second of each other on the quickly-drying track – but neither were able to make the cut for the top 17, and nor could Felipe Massa.

If the big teams had no excuse for missing the best opportunity to set a fast lap at the beginning of the session, at least Lucas di Grassi did – he’d been stuck in the pits with over-running repairs from first practice.

Also out were Bruno Senna, who spun during the early running, team mate Karun Chandhok and Lotus’s Jarno Trulli.

But the new teams had seized their opportunity – Timo Glock’s Virgin and the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen made it into Q2.


Vitaly Petrov, Renault, Sepang, 2010

After Q1 the teams weren’t getting caught out again – Robert Kubica led all 15 runners (minus Button’s McLaren) onto the track.

Most of the cars began the session on intermediates but a notable exception were Red Bull, who sent their drivers out on full wets to begin with, before switching over to intermediates.

That was an important change, because the rain picked up again towards the end of the session. With few drivers improving their times at the end of the session there were no surprises among the eliminations.

But Michael Schumacher almost fell victim to Pedro de la Rosa’s Sauber and only made it into the top ten by three-tenths of a second.

Heikki Kovalainen won the battle of the new teams, edging Timo Glock who spun early on in the session, but both were eliminated.


Mark Webber, Red Bull, Sepang, 2010

The rain return with a vengeance at the beginning of Q3. Not wanting to get held up by the other cars, Robert Kubica cheekily drove past the queue at the exit of the pit lane and led them out onto the track.

But with conditions similar to those which brought last year’s race to a halt, the session was red-flagged as the cars were halfway around their first lap.

After a 20-minute delay the session resumed with the Force Indias, wise to Kubica’s tactics, side-by-side at the pit lane exit.

That guaranteed them a clear view of the track ahead but the truly smart gamble came from Mark Webber, who started the session on intermediate tyres. It was a risky decision and when he came round after the first lap in ninth place it looked like it hadn’t paid off.

But with little further rain falling the track came to Webber. His second lap was quickest of all and his final effort put him 1.3 seconds faster than every other car.

Nico Rosberg grabbed second place on the grid, pushing Sebastian Vettel off the front row for the first time this year.

Adrian Sutil joins Vettel on the second row ahead of Nico H???lkenberg’s Williams.

Read more: 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix grid

Pos. # Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’51.886 1’48.210 1’49.327
2 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’52.560 1’47.417 1’50.673
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’47.632 1’46.828 1’50.789
4 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’49.479 1’47.085 1’50.914
5 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’49.664 1’47.346 1’51.001
6 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’46.283 1’46.951 1’51.051
7 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’50.301 1’48.371 1’51.511
8 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’52.239 1’48.400 1’51.717
9 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’48.467 1’47.792 1’51.767
10 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1’49.922 1’48.238 1’52.254
11 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’47.952 1’48.760
12 22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’47.153 1’48.771
13 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’48.945 1’49.207
14 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’48.655 1’49.464
15 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’52.875 1’52.270
16 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’52.398 1’52.520
17 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’52.211
18 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’52.884
19 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’53.044
20 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’53.050
21 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’53.283
22 20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1’56.299
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’57.269
24 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’59.977

2010 Malaysian Grand Prix

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169 comments on Webber gambles for pole as Ferrari and McLaren falter

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  1. what a qualifying. Webber made fantastic job. Schumi could better. India was great today. Ferrari…. yea, this was something kinda nightmare. when last time P1 to P2 was 1,3 secs?

  2. yelrom said on 3rd April 2010, 10:31

    Yeh Go Webber. Rosberg’s first front row start and both Mclarens and Ferrari’s at the back.

  3. Indranil Dudhane said on 3rd April 2010, 10:35

    Was Webber the only guy on inters in Q3?

  4. yelrom said on 3rd April 2010, 10:36

    I think so, but Webber made the smartest move so it payed off. :)

    • beanzoo said on 3rd April 2010, 10:44

      very interestin Quali but how many times of gettin it wrong like this will it take ferarri to learn, they ahould be v embarrested.
      Mclaren were a bit silly too but Hams spin at the final corer was what resulted in his poor spot in my opinion.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 10:46

        Ferrari messed up qualifying here as well last year, and of course McLaren just had their strategy mistake in Melbourne.

        • Robbie said on 3rd April 2010, 10:49

          On the BBC earlier they said that Bridgestone had told McLaren that Lewis’ tyres wouldn’t have made it to the end of the race so maybe it wasn’t a complete mistake.

          This weather prediction was though. Awful stuff. As Eddie Jordan said even if they’re right they should always get a time down for insurance’s sake.

          • kowalsky said on 3rd April 2010, 11:16

            yes, there is an article on autosport.com
            Keith, don’t you find interesting, the fact that hamilton and alonso, both made the same mistake, it’s because they are covering themselves up. They see each other as the bigest threat for the championship, and even if they are at the back of the grid, at least none of them have a clear advantage over the other, what makes a little sense the last alonso’s comments.

        • steph said on 3rd April 2010, 11:17

          Ferrari didn’t just mess up in qualifying last year but the race when the stuck Kimi on full wets when the track was dry.

          • Magnificent Geoffrey said on 3rd April 2010, 13:09

            I know it didn’t work out for them, but I can definately understand the theory behind that call. It would’ve looked like a brilliant decision had the rain started a bit sooner than it did.

        • VXR said on 3rd April 2010, 14:18

          No mistake. Bridgestone said that both Webber and Hamilton had to pit for fresh rubber.

        • beanzoo said on 3rd April 2010, 14:59

          the point is if u make a wrong tyre choice fair enough we can all make errors but to sit in the garage beliving the weather radar which has been proven to not be v accurate and not gettin a banker in is totally inexcusable, if i was a sponser of ferrai i would be giving them an ear full. (never happened under brawn when he was there they still haven’t been able to replace him, is the alack of cleaver mined out there!)

          • steph said on 3rd April 2010, 16:25

            Agree Geoff and by that point Ferrari needed a gamble to gtet anywhere but right now they’re not in that situation, they’re there to get points and not throw them away

  5. Franton said on 3rd April 2010, 10:40

    Wow, I never thought I’d agree with Eddie Jordan but the big teams (except Red Bull) really screwed the pooch on this one. McLaren especially.

  6. Was an interesting qualifying. Hopefully Webber can make the most of pole in tomorrows race. Obviously Red Bull would be wanting a win after three solid qualifying results.

    The problem is you don’t always get what you want.

    Will be interesting to see how the teams with egg on their face can come back tomorrow. McLaren and Ferrari fans would not be impressed with their guys after that effort.

  7. Alex said on 3rd April 2010, 10:40

    Wow! Even IF it stays dry tomorrow, we’re going to have a great race with Lewis and the ferrari’s batteling to the front of the field again.

  8. David Watkins said on 3rd April 2010, 10:40

    Congrats Webber.

    Yet again McLaren make a complete mess of it. How can it be so hard to understand that the weather may worsen as well as improve and it is imperative, in wet conditions, to get a lap time in what might prove to be optimum conditions.

    Again, this is not the first time this has happened (Monza 2008) and, again, they have not learnt from it. At the moment Id be re-assured if they put the Chuckle Brothers in charge of strategy

    • S Hughes said on 3rd April 2010, 10:43

      Bring back Ron Dennis – all is forgiven. McLaren strategists/Whitmarsh = useless.

      • Jim N said on 3rd April 2010, 11:59

        Agree. The golden rule for decades has been if it’s wet at the start of qualifying get a banker lap in, because there is very little to loose and it stops what happened to McLaren and Ferrari. I don’t think Ron would have forgotten that if he had been on the pit wall.

    • Yeah. Amazingly Ferrari got it just as wrong. Monza 2008 they got Raikkonen in the mess, last year here they messed up for Massa and now both drivers.

      Red Bull might have gotten it right this time (at least with Webber), but Melbourne was a huge blunder of course when they lost Webber P2 early in the race. That cost them the win.

      The big teams rely too much on their cars being fastest and their computer doing the thinking for them. All their mission control nonsense does is calculate everything, but it misses the gut feeling of a true strategist.

      • steph said on 3rd April 2010, 11:20

        ” All their mission control nonsense does is calculate everything, but it misses the gut feeling of a true strategist.”
        Agree completely. I also wonder if a tiny part of the reason is sometimes they just get lost up thinking that they are the top and so can afford a gamble.

        • David BR said on 3rd April 2010, 13:35

          I think the problem is they focus so much on gaining a slight edge on Ferrari (and vice-versa) that they miss the big picture. This was the worst decision I can remember. A small advantage over Ferrari, Merc or red Bull is irrelevant in Q1 or Q2! With 15 cars out, sticking in any kind of time even in traffic would surely have been enough to get both McLarens and Ferraris through. What else was needed? As soon as they saw so many out, they should have gone. Particularly with Vettel there too! And what’s the point in spending mega bucks on strategy to gain a grid position or two if your decision is so grossly wrong you lose 20???

          Still, it’s going to be insane scrap tomorrow – question is can Lewis and Fred blast there way up the field before the race is cancelled half-way through again? :0)

  9. A brilliant gamble by Mark Webber put him on pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix after a wet qualifying session in Seapang.


  10. m0tion said on 3rd April 2010, 10:44

    Not just the gamble … but the drive deserves applause for what it was. Webber is every bit the equal of any of the other rainmeisters.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 10:47

      Indeed, if he’d thrown it off the track he’d have been looking very silly.

    • Webber was good only cause of inter tyres

      • Tim said on 3rd April 2010, 16:46

        Any of the other drivers in Q3 could have picked intermediates – they didn’t. Webber had the guts to take the gamble and it paid off.

      • Mark Hitchcock said on 3rd April 2010, 16:47

        But it was very touch and go with the tyres.
        It would have been very difficult to keep the car on the track with inters for the first lap or so.
        He did a great job not to go off track like Keith says.

  11. David Watkins said on 3rd April 2010, 10:45

    If the race is red flagged again tomorrow, surely even someone as stubborn and egotistical as Bernie Ecclestone will accept that he has got it wrong with the scheduling

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 10:49

      If it runs true to form we’ll get rain in the last quarter of the race. I’ll be reading up the regulations on restarting races tonight!

    • Bookgrub said on 4th April 2010, 5:31

      Nonsense! Scheduling an afternoon race in monsoonal weather conditions is the only sensible option. After all, what could be more riveting than half distance, confusing and chaotic racing in poor visibility?

      Those numptys clamouring for clean, fast, unrestricted racing just want to ruin the show!

      I grew up in Darwin, Australia, and I can tell you now that nobody who lives anywhere like Malaysia is surprised at the result of the current scheduling. It’s a nonsense that the ‘Formula One _World_ Championship’ is beholden to European television interests to this extent.

  12. Ace said on 3rd April 2010, 10:46

    Gutsy move from Webber. A well deserved pole.

  13. Robbie said on 3rd April 2010, 10:46

    Red Bull are right jammy so and sos in qualifying. Shocking to see McLaren and Ferrari make such a silly mistake about the weather. Anyway, that top 10 is one of the most interesting I’ve seen in ages and hopefully the race tomorrow will be even more exciting than Australia.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd April 2010, 10:48

      If your rivals make mistakes and you don’t, that doesn’t make you lucky, that makes you better than your rivals.

      • Robbie said on 3rd April 2010, 10:50

        I know, I’m just being a little emotional about it. I hope they don’t start doing a Brawn because that’ll be very boring.

        • thestig84 said on 3rd April 2010, 11:10

          They cant really do a brawn as they won the early races then fade, redbull havent won the early races and I dont think they will fade anytime soon.

    • David Watkins said on 3rd April 2010, 10:52


      If there is a call to be made, no matter how easy, just do the opposite of McLaren and 9 times out of 10 you will prosper.

      • Robbie said on 3rd April 2010, 10:53

        Well so far this year that’s proving to be very true. Let’s see if the race is any difference.

        • SennaRainho said on 3rd April 2010, 17:32


          I doubt that they can make a Brawn as we have see McLaren and Ferrari having excellent race pace. Red Bull still has a qualifying advantage but even though overtaking is not optimum I think the pressure from Alonso and Hamilton will give us a fairly close season after all.

          Personally I enjoyed to Kobayashi and Kubica show their true talents in the wet, when driver skill overrules superior car performance.

  14. Damon said on 3rd April 2010, 10:46

    I predict very low scoring in our prediction game! Yeah!

    Great qualifying consistency from Kubica. I fancy Robert on the podium again. I hope Schumacher will show us some of his rain-magic tomorrow.

    Assuming that Cosworth is not the best engine out there, Williams seem to have quite a fast car.

  15. Schumi_the_greatest said on 3rd April 2010, 10:49

    was that a typo keith or just sarcasm? ha

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