Lewis Hamilton has matched Jim Clark’s British record of 33 pole positions after seeing off Sebastian Vettel in qualifying at Sepang. Qualifying was delayed by fifty minutes due to typically torrential rain in Kuala Lumpur but the change in conditions didn’t alter Mercedes’ status as the team to beat.
After cruising through the two knockout sessions, Hamilton set a 1:59.431 on his very first lap of Q3 which ultimately proved enough for pole as conditions worsened. Vettel produced a heroic effort to go second, just half a tenth back, and the world champion may later rue the decision to back off in the last minute in an attempt to find space, eventually causing him to miss the chequered flag.
Nico Rosberg had time for a final effort and snatched third from Fernando Alonso with Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen qualifying fifth and sixth. Nico Hulkenberg will start seventh ahead of Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne while Jenson Button starts from the back of the top ten after his gamble to fit intermediates in Q3 backfired.
Daniil Kvyat narrowly missed out on a place in Q3 with his teammate’s improvement and the Russian also has a steward’s inquiry on his hands after colliding with Fernando Alonso at the beginning of Q2. Kvyat locked up into turn nine and slid into the Ferrari which was crawling back to the pits after wrongly choosing intermediates and Alonso also needed a new track rod once the Toro Rosso was finished with him.
Along with Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez was eliminated while Williams were left to bemoan another rain-affected qualifying session which disguised their dry pace. Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas could only manage thirteenth and fifteenth respectively with Sergio Perez between them and Romain Grosjean just behind in the leading Lotus.
After starting late, Q1 was ended slightly early as a crash for Marcus Ericsson brought out the red flags in the final minute, confirming his elimination. The Swede touched the white line approaching turn four and slammed into the barrier, almost taking out Esteban Gutierrez as he rebounded onto the circuit. With no chance of a final lap, Pastor Maldonado was nailed in seventeenth with Adrian Sutil also knocked out along with both Marussias and the other Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi.
|2014 PETRONAS MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING RESULT|
|1||44. LEWIS HAMILTON||MERCEDES||WET||1:59.431|
|2||1. SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||WET||1:59.486|
|3||6. NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES||WET||2:00.050|
|4||14. FERNANDO ALONSO||FERRARI||WET||2:00.175|
|5||3. DANIEL RICCIARDO||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||WET||2:00.541|
|6||7. KIMI RAIKKONEN||FERRARI||WET||2:01.218|
|7||27. NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||WET||2:01.712|
|8||20. KEVIN MAGNUSSEN||McLAREN MERCEDES||WET||2:02.213|
|9||25. JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||STR RENAULT||WET||2:03.078|
|10||22. JENSON BUTTON||McLAREN MERCEDES||INTER||2:04.053|
|ELIMINATED IN Q2|
|11||26. DANIIL KVYAT||STR RENAULT||WET||2:02.351|
|12||21. ESTEBAN GUTIERREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||WET||2:02.369|
|13||19. FELIPE MASSA||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||WET||2:02.460|
|14||11. SERGIO PEREZ||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||WET||2:02.511|
|15||77. VALTTERI BOTTAS||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||WET||2:02.756|
|16||8. ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||WET||2:02.885|
|ELIMINATED IN Q1|
|17||13. PASTOR MALDONADO||LOTUS RENAULT||INTER||2:02.074|
|18||99. ADRIAN SUTIL||SAUBER FERRARI||INTER||2:02.131|
|19||17. JULES BIANCHI||MARUSSIA FERRARI||INTER||2:02.702|
|20||10. KAMUI KOBAYASHI||CATERHAM RENAULT||INTER||2:03.595|
|21||4. MAX CHILTON||MARUSSIA FERRARI||INTER||2:04.388|
|22||9. MARCUS ERICSSON||CATERHAM RENAULT||INTER||2:04.407|