Red Bull Racing were able to resist increased competition from McLaren as Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Red Bull drivers Vettel and Mark Webber were trailing behind Lewis Hamilton after the first Q3 runs at Sepang, but Vettel produced on his final run to steal pole position.
Vettel had been off the pace during Friday practice, but was able to get the car sorted for qualifying. “It was a challenging weekend until qualifying today,” said the world champion. “I was happy with the car, but we never really got into a rhythm. Yesterday wasn't as smooth as we hoped for, but we knew the car had speed, so the main thing was to keep believing in it. In qualifying everything worked out straight away. It was very close in the end with the McLaren guys, so I'm happy to get pole.
“Big compliments to the guys in the team – especially those working on KERS, they did a lot of work since Australia. If we wouldn't have had it today, we wouldn't be sitting here now, neither me nor Mark, so compliments to the guys – it's a good reward. It's very hot in the garage for the boys during this race, the air is pretty humid, so at least tonight they will get some good sleep ahead of tomorrow.”
Webber qualified in third position. He was pleased to be closer to his teammate after the huge gap between the pair in Australia. “I knew it would be very tight; everyone was on a single pace after the first flying lap on the option tyre in Q3. It was pretty straight forward for us; you have to just drive as quick as you can when it's like that. We can't control how tight it is, to get a few tenths more, you have to just do your best. It was a better performance from me today compared to Melbourne and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I'm starting on the clean side of the grid and it should be an interesting race – I think there will be a lot of pit stops.”
Team Principal Christian Horner said: “A great team performance today. To get first and third on the grid after a fascinating qualifying session, which was really tight with the McLarens today, is a great start to the weekend. On the final run and under huge pressure, Sebastian delivered just enough to get pole. Mark also improved his time and for the team to take P1 and P3, sets us up well for tomorrow.”