Vettel snatches pole from Hamilton in closely-fought qualifying

2011 Malaysian GP qualifying

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

  1. drezone said on 9th April 2011, 11:54

    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.

  2. Master firelee (@master-firelee) said on 9th April 2011, 11:57

    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.

  3. the-muffin-man said on 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.

    • ron said on 9th April 2011, 12:32

      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

    • F1Lover said on 9th April 2011, 15:27

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

    • verstappen said on 9th April 2011, 15:43

      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…

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th April 2011, 18:50

      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.

  4. LeeH said on 9th April 2011, 12:17

    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!

  5. JPedroCQF1 (@joao-pedro-cq) said on 9th April 2011, 13:29

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

  6. Daniel said on 9th April 2011, 13:53

    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.

  7. Jay said on 9th April 2011, 14:08

    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.

  8. Palle (@palle) said on 9th April 2011, 14:54

    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.

  9. F1Lover said on 9th April 2011, 15:33

    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

  10. JamesC1991 said on 9th April 2011, 16:13

    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

  11. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th April 2011, 18:49

    I’m really pleased to see Petrov do so well, particularly in Q2, he delivered when he needed to. Maybe we’re seeing a significant improvement over the winter from him?

    Schumacher just wasn’t in it. Shame!

  12. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 10th April 2011, 2:52

    Last minutes drama by Vettel,never expected him to be P1 as he didn’t look very strong all weekend relative to his team mate. Nice work by Mclaren,especially by Button as he also his raising his game.Good job by both the Renault still showing their potential alongside Ferrari. Kobayashi did what we always expect from him, but tough luck for Perez & Schumacher. I guess for the later it was a rear wing failure.Also congratulation to HRT for qualifying for the race which I expected never to have happen.

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