Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Sepang, 2011

Vettel snatches pole from Hamilton in closely-fought qualifying

2011 Malaysian GP qualifyingPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Sepang, 2011
Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Sepang, 2011

Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position in a closely-fought session in Sepang.

Hamilton held provisional pole at the beginning of Q1 but Vettel found a tenth of a second to take his second pole position of the year.


The McLarens and Red Bulls took up their customary places at the top of the times as qualifying began, with Lewis Hamilton in front of Sebastian Vettel.

But the session came to an early halt after eight minutes when the left-hand sidepod came off Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso. The marshals recovered he lost part and the session was quickly restarted.

Among the teams inconvenienced by the red flag were Ferrari, who had sent their cars out on hard tyres.

They weren’t able to get a time in, and when the sessions resumed they switched to softs to make sure they got through. Felipe Massa set the fastest time with a 1’36.744, just over a tenth faster than Fernando Alonso.

McLaren stuck with the hard tyres and both their drivers improved their times. But Vettel stayed in the garage and his time proved quick enough to get him into Q2.

At the opposite end of the grid the usual suspects were in the drop zone, but all of them were quick enough to meet the 107% time.

Williams ended up straddling the divide between Q1 and Q2, with Pastor Maldonado dropping out in the first session after coming within a tenth of a second of eliminating team mate Rubens Barrichello.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’38.276
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’38.645
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’38.791
21 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’40.648
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’41.001
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’41.549
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’42.574


Renault made only one attempt in Q2, sending their cars out with seven minutes left in the session. Vitaly Petrov and Nick Heidfeld put themselves fourth and fifth, and it proved enough for them to reach Q3.

Jenson Button and the two Red Bulls also secured their passage to Q3 with their first runs, all on soft tyres.

Hamilton did his first run on hards and had to go out again on soft tyres to guarantee his pace in the top ten. He fell short of Button by three tenths of a second after locking a wheel at turn one.

A late improvement by Kamui Kobayashi got him into Q3 again and led once more to Michael Schumacher being knocked out in Q2.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’37.035
12 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’37.160
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’37.347
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’37.370
15 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’37.496
16 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’37.528
17 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’37.593


The McLarens and Red Bulls were the only cars to go out to begin with. Hamilton set the pace, lapping in exactly one minute 35 seconds, which was better than either of the Red Bulls could manage.

The other cars, which did not have as many sets of soft tyres, only came out for one run at the end.

Hamilton managed to find a few hundredths of a second but Vettel had a little more in hand, and pipped him to pole by a tenth of a second.

Behind them the cars lined up much as they had in Melbourne: Webber ahead of Button and Alonso followed by a Renault – though this time it was Heidfeld instead of Petrov.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’34.870
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’34.974
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’35.179
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’35.200
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’35.802
6 Nick Heidfeld Renault 1’36.124
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’36.251
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’36.324
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’36.809
10 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’36.820

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

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188 comments on “Vettel snatches pole from Hamilton in closely-fought qualifying”

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  1. McLaren still have that radical exhaust system in their sleeves. If they can get the reliability issues it caused sorted out, we may seem them dominate the season. Whitmarsh spoke of “spectacular results” in the simulations.

    1. Well that is both awesome and scary :)

      1. Let’s hope they don’t get it reliable too soon then!

    2. Simulation is exactly what it is, simulation. You can even run a driver without a helmet during simulation and he won’t get sand blasted. Just like how Virgin always take pole in their CFD. :-)

  2. The TV coverage today drove me a bit mad. The BBC pictures and sound were out of sync, the TV director suddenly decided to obsess over Fernando when there was a mega battle for pole going on and I found DC and EJ annoyingly OTT.

    First they slagged of Heidfeld saying he’d be under real pressure soon (after one race) only for him to outqualify Vitaly, then they said Perez could replace Massa at Ferrari only for Massa to fo fastest in q1 (yes, I know it’s q3 that counts and there’s been rumours about him for a long time now) while Perez qualified a mighty 16th.

    1. jakehumphreyf1 Jake Humphrey
      F1 sync issue arose due to ‘the misinterpretation of a V.A.L.I.D tape during our line-up procedure’. That was dictated to me!

    2. I agree Steph, sadly I didn’t get to see any tv coverage. I don’t have tv and here in the states I couldn’t find any website live streaming the qualifying :( !

      1. Try, they stream practice and qualy etc. live in the US – practice is w/o comment I think, which makes it great for a fan! I used their timing as backup when the one stopped working.

        1. No they stream only the sessions that are not live on TV. That means FP1 and FP3 get streams, but FP2 and Qualli (and the race off course) are not streamed.

      2. poor you. Should have got onto the live blog. I had a pretty nice stream to watch the BBC feed (Czech TV is just not it for F1). And there were a lot of other streams working.

        But Steph is right about some strange choices. Sure, Alonso with sagged shoulders was significant, but why on earth couldn’t they show that after showing had the top players do their laps. It was all back to Monaco last year, where we did not even see Kubica’s fast lap live.

        1. BBC favourites are:
          1. Webber
          2. Vettel
          3. Buton
          4. Hamilton and the rest.

          I don’t really get why they love webber so much.

          1. What does that have to do with me minding the FOM coverage rather showing Alonso instead of focussing on the top 4 chasing the pole position on track that very moment?

  3. I thought there were 3 Quali sessions Keith :)

    ‘Sebastian Vettel beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position in a closely-fourth session in Sepang’

    Its looking like its going to be a great battle tomorrow.
    I’ve gone for a win for Button- as i reckon the wet stuff will definitely fall from the clouds

    1. I’m giving Button a 2nd on the podium tomorrow.

      Well, that’s in my predictions of course, but it was based on a critical computer analysis made on a main frame data from a top secrect US military government labratory, and the fact that my late silver Persian cat was named Mini Button caused she was pawing at the screen when Jenson was on screen.

      I think it’s gonna happen.

      1. I don’t know. I’ve never trusted Button very much, and for some reason I’m not seeing Webber very fit either. I kind of see a HAM-VET-ALO or HAM-VET-Nick tomorrow…

  4. Hamilton had a tiny lock up in turn 2, didn’t he? Front left wheel just stopped rotating slightly…


    Also we made another big change before qualifying, and the car improved again in qualifying, so I was much more comfortable driving now the car in these conditions, this set-up. We were expecting more problems in qualifying, or a worse position. I think if we finish the race, we will be on the podium.

    Humm let’ see…

    1. Very confidet of Fred considering the fact that I gave him a 5th place finish in the predictions out of the goodness of my heart in tomorrow’s race.

      1. ermmm… confident*

    2. On the podium? That seems really optimistic, even if he ads the “if we finish”. Maybe they nicked the octopus exhaust from McLaren or something but don’t yet know how reliable it is so only ran it at 80% and it got him 4th already.

      1. Nicked has criminal implications… might be a mere coincidence that Macca and Ferrari have the same exhaust system.

        1. Oh, I wasn’t really serious, I questioned the realism of the podium; and thought Ferrari needed to have changed something rather radical to do that, or know something about rain.

          Anyway, I meant the other way: Ferrari adopting something like the rumored revolutionary McLaren exhausts they couldn’t race due to lack of reliability; I am sure that Ferrari thought up their current exhausts more or less independently before they saw it the similar Red Bull solution. McLaren might also have had a similar design thought up as a backup that they developed to race-worthy state for the first race.

    3. When did he say that? When he was interviewed in Spanish he literally said (after being asked if a Podium was possible): “It’s not impossible, but it will be very difficult”

  6. Very exiting Quali.
    And this time Heidfeld got it right – lets see if Renault will last a race distance.
    If You look at the sector times You get:
    Vet 1 1 2 1.3
    Ham 2 2 1 1.7
    Web 3 3 4 3.3
    But 4 4 3 3.7
    Alo 7 5 5 5.7
    Hei 9 6 6 7.0
    Pet 6 9 7 7.3
    Mas 8 7 8 7.7
    Ros 5 11 9 8.3
    Kob 14 8 10 10.7
    Sch 10 14 11 11.7
    Bue 16 12 13 13.7
    DiR 11 17 14 14.0
    Sut 13 18 12 14.3
    Alg 12 16 15 14.3
    Per 17 10 16 14.3
    Bar 15 13 17 15.0
    Kov 18 19 18 18.3
    Mal 20 15 20 18.3
    Tru 19 20 19 19.3
    Glo 21 21 21 21.0
    Amb 22 22 22 22.0
    Liu 23 23 23 23.0
    Kar 24 24 24 24.0

    1. How’s this for a tight first four, Four World Champions and champions to be. The Hungaroring
      a long long time ago in a race far far away.

      1. Germany Michael Schumacher Ferrari
      1 :14.672

      2. Canada Jacques Villeneuve Williams-Renault 1:14.850.

      3. United Kingdom Damon Hill Arrows-Yamaha 1:15.044

      4. Finland Mika Hakkinen McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.140

      I thought of this because Q used to be a nail biting experience as it was today.

      1. Sorry bout the formatting…

  7. Sorry that table don’t look very well, but the pecking order will be:
    Torro Rosso
    Force India
    But maybe the overtaking possibilities in sector 3 will be decisive.

    1. Why not Renault ahead of Ferrari, and Torro Rosso ahead of Sauber, they all have a second car in front of the team you places ahead of them.

      1. Not when I compute the average positions on the 3 sector times – this pecking order is based solely on the sector times. It is just to show their relative strength based on sector times, and in this way it is not the true pecking order. On top of that You could argue that in Sepang, the 3rd sector time is perhaps most decisive for overtaking.

  8. I would love to see Lewis in a RBR car…

    1. I was waiting for someone to say that. How do you know that Seb just didn’t drive a better lap than him? The cars looked pretty equal on pace, IMO.

      Then again, it’s a british site, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the praise heaped on Vettel after what really was a phenomenal qualifying effort.

      1. Cut the “this is a British site” nonsense please – I’m not writing for any particular nationality.

        1. I wasn’t talking about YOUR articles Keith, I just mean the majority of this site’s readers and commenters are British!

          1. For your knowledge, I am not even British!

          2. I just mean the majority of this site’s readers and commenters are British!

            OK, but that’s not what you said and that isn’t true either:


          3. Please cut that #$%#%. Look at what Keith posted about where the commenters come from.

            And look at the top 20 most prolific commenters in the last month. Together they have almost 4.400 comments and I know for certain, that the top 5 of that list is not much british at all, and over 2/3 of those comments are not posted by British.

          4. Please elaborate, why would you think that is so?

            And why care about where everyone if from? To me the only time I care is, when I think about visiting a country and asking for good tips or maybe even meeting up with people. Or when discussing local circumstances like we had in the Middle east, in Japan and in NZ lately or just asking about the weather for a GP weekend.

            And I must say, from experience a wide range of F1 fans would like to see Lewis Hamilton do some laps in a Red Bull, if only to compare him to Vettel and Webber. Nothing about nationality or place you live in.

      2. Now you think the cars are equal? lol Lewis said that he lost time in one corner what means that the lap wasn’t as good as Vettel’s.

        I din’t imply anything, I just said that i would love to see them in an equal car.Anyways, i still think Lewis is better driver though!

  9. That’s was an amazing scrap for pole. I thought Hamilton was going to be on P1 but Vettel pulled something out there.

  10. Out of the 5,100,480 combinations for the Top 5, we have the exact same as that of Australia qualifying!

    In terms of Noah’s Ark, it’s 1,3 (Red Bull) 2,4(McLaren) 5,7 (Ferrari) and 6,8 (Renault)

    1. Out of the 552 Front row combinations it’s Vettel-Hamilton for the third race in a row!

  11. Reminiscent of Turkey wth Maccas matching RBR, only this time is the 2nd round. Good drive from Vettel to snatch pole as was Ham’s to take. also let’s hope that Vettel doesn’t take himself out this time as webber won’t be close enough for him to do this and very good chance for either macca driver to still win this.

    on the other hand lot of people getting too excited about results. only 2nd round and different track, set up and conditions to 1st round and can not make bold predictions that Macca will dominate, let alone RBR will continue to do so, or that ferrari are in trouble, as still long season ahead with many other types of tracks.

    afterall we’re talking about split seconds and metres between grid spots and possibly taking the chequered flag.

    oh and yes renault do appear to be taking merc’s spot. shame kubica not there to be matching vettel and ham.

  12. if i had the two redbull drivers the other way round i would have predicted the complete top 5 correctly just hope the others finnish the race that way to get some points.

  13. the-muffin-man
    9th April 2011, 12:03

    Yay for HRT!!!

    Looks like they’ll quickly show that Virgin are the real jokers of the grid.

    Sod all testting, only done a handful of laps and still only half a second away from the Virgins.

    And now they’ve got hold of a Mercedes wind tunnel its only a matter of time before they overtake them.

    1. A great job from hrt, and from both driver’s both tonio and narain done a solid job. with tonio only able to get car working with out any problem in qualifying it was great to be just 0.5 sec away from virgin . narain also did great job considering he back to f1 after 5 year it was great effort . he was 1.3 sec away from tonio at albert park so he is improving hopefully after one or two race distance he will be more competitive

    2. And the 3 know it alls from BBC always talking them down. I hope they prove them wrong soon.

    3. Having these new teams really adds a dimension to the sport.

      Here you have Lotus, doing the conventional thing, which brings them ahead of the other two, then you have Virgin, doing their CFD thing and last but not least, you have HRT, who do the outsource thing – without any real money.

      Hats of to all of them, because in their own unique ways they add to the heritage of the sport. Maybe untill someone else buys them, but maybe they get to the midfield, while for example Force India declines further…

    4. Oh yes, forgot about HRT! They did themselves proud and i’m glad they got through. You’re right, Virgin need to up their game significantly as the races progress.

  14. Totally out of charactor to see Button owned by Hamilton again. Hamilton will beat finger wagging vettel into submission tomorrow. I don’t like Ferrari but i hope they kind find something to stop it being a 4 car race. Mercedes are just dissapointing!

    1. Don’t be too sure of Hamilton beating Vettel. Vettel is not really know for bad starts, but neither is Ham.

      What would be interesting is if Ham did jump Vettel on the start and Vettel had to pass Ham for the lead.

      I think that Lewis might rethink his comment of Alonso being his Prost and give it to the cute German kid ;)

      1. not known*

      2. I don’t know, if anyone asked me to name a plucky overtaker, I would definitely say Mansell!

  15. Does someone knows why had Lewis that lion on the back of his racing suit?

    1. Something to do with a clothing company that’s sponsored them for 30 years

  16. Amazing qualifying session. One of the best ever! I thought it would still be easy for RedBull but it turned out to be a tough battle. Hope McLaren will beat RedBull. Good job Kobayashi. Good job Lotus. Again, Nico is in front of Schummi. Perhaps he’s playing games with Schummi (in free practice he is slower than Schummi but in the end – qualifying – he is faster).
    Hope tomorrow won’t occur some incident right after the start.

  17. Vettel grabbing pole at the death like that was reminiscent of Schumacher in the old days. Great performance from him.

    Alonso drove the wheels off the Ferrari, it just wouldn’t go faster. Massa’s pace Is probably closer to the where Ferrari really are.

    Once again, Ferrari has rested on their laurels, just like last year, good over the winter tests, but off the pace as the season starts. At least the managed a win at the first race last year. I think Stefano will need to go if they don’t win this year.

  18. Before the start of the season I would have guessed Ferrari to be up there with RBR, not McLaren. Very impressed with them, and again Mercedes is disappointing. Sauber is a pleasant surprise, and very interesting to follow the Renaults. Kubica must be kicking himself for not being there. He would probably have done even better than Nick today.

  19. realTimoGlock Timo Glock
    Tomorrow is a new day and maybe the lightning hits the Kers cars:-)))) so we could even finish on the podium

    :D lol

    1. That’s the spirit! :D

  20. fantastic battle between the Top two.
    reminded me of the great battles between Hakkinen and Schumacher in qualifying 10-11 years ago.
    looks like we will have a thriller tomorrow

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