Red Bull scored yet another pole position in Malaysia today, but it was Mark Webber who ended qualifying on top this time, rather than teammate Sebastian Vettel, who had been the class act in qualifying for the previous two races.
In a rain-affected session Webber made a good call on tyres to set a lap 1.3 seconds faster than Nico Rosberg, who will start alongside him on the front row tomorrow. Vettel will start in third.
The pole-sitter explained the problems that the drivers faced in rain around Sepang. “It was tricky today. When you look at the amount of standing water there was in places during Q1 and Q2, trying to get everything right and a clear lap was difficult, especially as there is a fair difference in pace between some of the cars. My Q2 lap on intermediate tyres was a bit of a three point turn round Pedro (de la Rosa) and that was my quickest, so you knew you had to keep pushing; the conditions were changing so quickly.
“A few big names went out in the first session, which was a surprise, but it just goes to show how sensitive everything is to timing. The pole goes to Ciaron, my engineer, as he made the call for inters in Q3. I said 'have a look at the track, what do you think?' and he said 'yeah let's go for it'. It was tricky in places, in the last corner there was a bit of aquaplaning, but I kept it on the black stuff and got the job done.”
Sebastian Vettel was pleased with his second row grid position, and thinks the decision by the FIA’s Charlie Whiting to suspend qualifying midway through Q3 was a sensible one. “Good job to Mark today. It was very tricky at the start of Q3, there was a lot of water and it was the right thing to call the red flag – it was just impossible. I think there was too much water – the cars are quite low, so you end up swimming more than driving. In Q3 I think we did the right thing putting on extremes. The water disappeared quicker than the majority of people thought and Mark was on the better tyre in the end, but I think third is a good result for the team.
“It was a tricky session – it was important to get into the next round and then qualify as high up as we could, which we did. It's a shame as I had some moments on my fastest lap – I was close to Nico (Rosberg), only about one tenth off I think, but if you look back there wasn't that much margin. I think we can be very pleased with third today and everything is possible tomorrow.”
Team Principal Christian Horner had a lot of praise for his whole team after their qualifying effort. “A very tricky qualifying, as there was a lot of opportunity to get it wrong rather thanright, but both drivers kept cool heads, along with their engineers and car crews. In the end there was quite a lot of risk associated with splitting the strategy for the last run in Q3, but it was the right thing to do. The option of the intermediate tyre had a one lap window that Mark fully exploited and first and third is a great job from both drivers.”
Renault’s Fabrice Lom was also pleased for the team. “What a great pole position. It was a very difficult session in the wet – Mark made a good call on tyres and along with his good skill, he claimed pole. He erased the issue from yesterday when his engine blew, so we're happy he could recover and get pole. Sebastian is third, which is a good team result. Now we concentrate on the race tomorrow.”