Malaysian rain can’t keep Vettel from pole again

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2013Sebastian Vettel came within a quarter of a second of being knocked out in the first part of qualifying.

But a smart tyre call in a rain-hit top ten shoot-out secured his second consecutive pole position of the year. Felipe Massa joins him on the front row of the grid.


Sutil headed the times in the first part of qualifying, his 1’36.809 lap on medium tyres almost seven-tenths of a second faster than his team mate could manage.

But the top teams appeared to be more concerned with preserving their tyres than setting the quickest times. This was particularly true of Red Bull, whose drivers put in steady laps on medium tyres that were merely sufficient to guarantee their passage to Q2. Vettel was inside the cut-off time by a quarter of a second in 15th.

Both Sauber drivers made it through, Esteban Gutierrez improving to 11th with his last effort. Team mate Nico Hulkenberg complained on the radio after being held up by Sergio Perez at turn nine.

Marussia headed Caterham in the drop zone, with Jules Bianchi being congratulated by his engineer after coming within half a second of reaching Q2. He out paced team mate Max Chilton by 1.2 seconds.

Charles Pic also out-qualified Chilton, and they were joined in the drop zone by Jean-Eric Vergne and Valtteri Bottas.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.157
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1’38.207
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1’38.434
20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1’39.314
21 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1’39.672
22 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1’39.932


Di Resta was the first driver out at the start of Q2 but he abandoned his run and made for the pits.

He would regret that decision, as a few minute later a rain shower arrived, making the track surface treacherous from turns five to eight. Di Resta spun twice as he tried in vain to produce a lap that would get him into Q3.

By then almost all the other drivers had set times, Nico Rosberg leading them on a 1’36.190. Pastor Maldonado did not get a lap in and was consigned to eliminated among with Di Resta.

The Sauber drivers joined them along with Romain Grosjean and Daniel Ricciardo.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’37.636
12 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.125
13 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.822
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.221
15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’44.509
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault


With rain still falling as Q3 began Sutil took up place at the pit lane exit with Perez, Webber, Button and Raikkonen queued up behind him.

All ten cars took to the track straight away on intermediate tyres but with the track drying rapidly they faced the question of whether to change tyres mid-session – for slicks or another set of intermediates.

Vettel was quickest as the drivers completed their first runs, then made the call to take on a fresh set of intermediate tyres. Raikkonen, Sutil and the Ferraris did likewise – with mixed results.

Among those who stayed out on the worn but warm intermediates was Webber, who briefly took to the top of the times, before losing it to Hamilton.

But Alonso revelled in the grip afforded by his fresh tyres and flashed across the line with a 1’50.727 to claim provisional pole position.

Not far behind him Vettel was going quicker still, and his time of 1’49.674 sealed a second consecutive pole position. Making matters worse for Alonso, he was then knocked off the front row of the grid by his team mate.

Raikkonen couldn’t find the same improvement on his new intermediate tyres and ended up seventh, with the McLarens and Sutil behind him.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’49.674
2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’50.587
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’50.727
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’51.699
5 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’52.244
6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’52.519
7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’52.970
8 Jenson Button McLaren 1’53.175
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’53.439
10 Sergio Perez McLaren 1’54.136

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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166 comments on Malaysian rain can’t keep Vettel from pole again

  1. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 23rd March 2013, 9:53

    this race is going to be fantastic, i can feel it!

  2. Traverse (@) said on 23rd March 2013, 9:58

    Bianchi is a future WDC, no doubt about that.

    I predict that if Raikkonen wins this year’s WDC, Webber will be replaced by Massa at Red Bull and Ferrari will take a punt on Bianchi. Grosjean’s seat will be safe.

  3. Adriaantje (@sutil2013) said on 23rd March 2013, 10:05

    Great result by Seb. He usually is brilliant in the rain, remember his first victory. Surprising to see Massa outqualified Alonso again in these conditions. Things are looking good for Ferrari, especially if the race starts dry.

    Btw, I hope the DiResta defenders noticed the difference in FP3 and Q1 between Sutil and DIR; Sky even had a video analysis of it. Personally, I think its the difference between a natural talent (Sutil) and a hard worker (DIR). I hope Sutil’s rain driving skills will return to him soon, because ninth is a bit disappointing all in all. A matter of time I suppose.

  4. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 23rd March 2013, 10:10

    Great quali. A few distinguished points

    Great job by Seb in the wet. His lap was mega! Thoroughly deserved P1

    Excellent drives by Massa and Sutil.

    And Bianchi! What a star! He gets more than the car’s capability and Chilton gets less than the car’s capability and hence the gap seems really big. He even trounced the Caterham badly!

    • AldoG said on 23rd March 2013, 11:25

      I agree with your points, but I would note that by the end of last season the Marussias were already ahead of the Caterhams in terms of pace and reliability. Now the Marussias have a very good driver to develop the car further but let’s get real, the Marussias are still a good step behind the other teams. Maybe the Toro Rosso will follow the Caterhams down the hill, and eventually the Marussias will be able to race one of the Williams. But that’s it. Bianchi is the right guy for Marussia, and the team will let him to show his *massive* potential.
      Regarding the qualy today, I was impressed by both Ferrari’s pace (Alonso’s face at the press conference was priceless, it is clear that he doesn’t like to have Massa ahead of him, and let’s see how long will it take for this to create tension in the team). I am *massively* disappointed with the Saubers, and it’s a shame that Di Resta was out of Q3.

      • OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 23rd March 2013, 15:27

        0.2 second is a “good step from the other teams”?

        • AldoG said on 23rd March 2013, 21:05

          Yeah, today Bianchi was 0.2 behind the slower Toro Rosso. But in my opinion, and here it doesn’t matter how much I like Bianchi, his Marussia is still behind the Toro Rosso, a team that seems complete lost and down the hill. I believe that by mid season Bianchi will be able to fight them regularly.

  5. jacobf90 (@jacobf90) said on 23rd March 2013, 10:50

    This says to me RB went for a gamble on a wet setup, a gamble which payed off nicely.

    Sebastian Vettel (bbc. “It was an interesting qualifying as we knew the rain was on the way. We expected some at the beginning of qualifying so we took a bit of a different approach to other people. Q2 was quite on edge and I think the rain probably helped us a little bit otherwise we would have had to go out again. It was just enough to go to Q3 where with the circuit drying. It was clear that it was probably better to change tyres [midway through] – we confirmed that pretty early – and I think we did the right thing.

  6. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 23rd March 2013, 11:20

    Malaysian GP: Raikkonen handed three-place grid penalty

  7. OEL F1 (@oel-f1) said on 23rd March 2013, 11:21

    For the fourth time in a row, Massa has outqualified Alonso. For Alonso this is the fourth he has been outqualified 4 consecutive races; in 2003 and 2004 by Trulli and in 2007 were the other times it happened.

  8. Valentino (@valentino) said on 23rd March 2013, 12:03

    How important is the clean side of the track for the start?

  9. Kimi is still going to win it. Vettel and Alo will end up on the podium.

  10. h'heim2000 (@benj-yam) said on 23rd March 2013, 12:16

    did Alonso come in for fresh inters? bbc states that he didn’t. and if he didn’t, that would have been an equally fantastic qualifying lap.

    hoping for a ferrari 1-2. we haven’t had one for a while.

  11. I see Massa has been working on his Godfather accent during the off season

  12. Chad (@chaddy) said on 23rd March 2013, 19:40

    I think a lot of people are forgetting that Vettel is the best F1 driver in the rain, bar none. Remember Brazil– “Sebastian, you are a second faster than anyone else, please slow down”. And he’s the smartest and knows his car better than anyone else. He was immediately on the radio getting the tires he needed, accepting the obvious trade-off of fewer laps and more uncertainty. Too many of you want to make love to Teflonso.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th March 2013, 1:34

      My word.

      Anyway, nowadays, the best performers in the wet seem to change regularly. Last year it was Alonso who took 2 poles and a win in the rain, we’ve had Vettel take 2 stunning wet weather wins in China and Italy, plus more great races for STR, and Hamilton/Button have done well too in the Mclaren.

      I hope that no male users of this website want to “make love to Teflonso”.

  13. fangio85 (@fangio85) said on 23rd March 2013, 23:39

    When was the last time a car designed by either Adrian newey or Rory Byrne won the title? (Apart from the brawn gp car, but since that was a one off stroke of good luck I’m not counting it lol)

  14. fangio85 (@fangio85) said on 24th March 2013, 0:06

    *designed by someone other than newey or Byrne I meant to say

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