Hamilton beats Vettel to pole in wet Sepang

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix in a session affected heavily by a thunderstorm that primarily affected the middle of the session and saw a half-hour delay in proceedings.

The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS driver set a best time in Q3 of 1m49.834s on the Intermediate Pirelli tyres, and will be joined on the front row by the Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who set a great last lap to get within one tenth of a second of the pole time.

Vettel was able to split the Mercedes duo, with Nico Rosberg only able to qualify in third position after making mistakes on his flying laps during the session. The German had been fastest in Q2 before the rain truly came down.

The Infiniti Red Bull Racing duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were an encouraging fourth and fifth after a weekend on the back foot for the team. They will start just ahead of the highly-impressive Max Verstappen, with the seventeen-year-old Scuderia Toro Rosso driver running in his first wet qualifying session in Formula 1 and qualifying sixth.

Williams Martini Racing duo Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were forced to switch from the full wet tyre to the intermediates during the session, and as a result were only able to qualify seventh and ninth, separated by the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, while Marcus Ericsson qualified tenth, with the Sauber driver making it out of Q1 for the first time in his career.

The middle section of the qualifying session started on a dry track, but the rain was imminent, and everyone rushed to the end of the pit lane to be in prime position for when the green light illuminated signalling the start of the session.

Those at the front of the queue got the advantage, as the rain began to fall, with Kimi Raikkonen the biggest casualty. The Ferrari driver was amongst the traffic and could only qualify in eleventh, just ahead of the second Lotus of Pastor Maldonado.

The two Sahara Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were next up, while Carlos Sainz Jr, highly impressive so far in his Toro Rosso F1 career, was another driver who has been fast enough to make it through into Q3 had he not been out of position when the rain began to fall.

The rain fell so hard that no car took to the track after their first runs, and the third part of the session was delayed by half an hour as they awaited the storm to pass over the circuit.

The first part of the session began on a dry track, with that rain, thunder and lightning threatening the track in the distance. It would stay away for the first session, with Felipe Nasr finding himself on the wrong side of the cut off point to make it into Q2 in his Sauber, although he was able to out-qualify both McLaren-Hondas, who will start the race from seventeenth and eighteenth on the grid, Jenson Button ahead of the returning Fernando Alonso.

The Manor F1 Team only saw one car take to the track, with Roberto Merhi’s best time being outside the dreaded 107% time by just over four tenths of a second. He and team-mate Will Stevens, who did not participate in qualifying due to a fuel system problem, will now wait for a stewards decision to see if they are allowed to race on Sunday. The Briton had set a time earlier in the weekend that would have seen him comfortably qualify.

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying Times

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1m49.834s
25Sebastian VettelGERFerrari1m49.908s
36Nico RosbergGERMercedes1m50.299s
43Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Renault1m51.541s
526Daniil KvyatRUSRed Bull-Renault1m51.950s
633Max VerstappenNEDToro Rosso-Renault1m51.980s
719Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes1m52.473s
88Romain GrosjeanFRALotus-Mercedes1m52.980s
977Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes1m53.179s
109Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari1m53.260s
--Eliminated in Q2---
117Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrari1m42.173s
1213Pastor MaldonadoVENLotus-Mercedes1m42.197s
1327Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-Mercedes1m43.022s
1411Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes1m43.468s
1555Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault1m43.700s
--Eliminated in Q1---
1612Felipe NasrESPSauber-Ferrari1m41.308s
1722Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda1m41.635s
1814Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda1m41.745s
1998Roberto MerhiESPManor-Ferrari1m46.677s
2028Will StevensGBRManor-FerrariNo Time