F1:  Hamilton beats Vettel to pole at wet Sepang

F1: Hamilton beats Vettel to pole at wet Sepang

29th Mar 2014 9:05 pm

After a 50-minute delay, track conditions were still best-suited to full wet tyres in Q3.

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix in a rain-delayed qualifying session for the second round of the 2014 Formula 1 season.

After a 50-minute delay, track conditions were still best-suited to full wet tyres in Q3 and Hamilton's first flying lap of 1m59.431s was good enough to secure pole position.

But his advantage was a small one, as he ended up just 55 thousandths of a second faster than Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel.

Nico Rosberg showed disappointing pace on his first flier, ending up only fourth fastest, but with track conditions a little worse in the closing stages did enough to improve to third.

Fernando Alonso was the man he bumped down to fourth, although the Spaniard was fortunate to make Q3 after surviving a collision with Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat at Turn 9 during Q2.

The Spaniard suffered front-left suspension damage in the clash, which happened when he was struggling back to the pits on intermediate rubber while most were on full wets.

The Russian had closed rapidly on Alonso and dived to the inside of the slow left-hander, but Alonso turned in and Kvyat slid into him.

The incident will be investigated by stewards after the session.

Daniel Ricciardo was fifth fastest in the second Red Bull ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who was the only driver other than Hamilton to head the times during Q3, with Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg seventh.

Behind him was Kevin Magnussen, who started Q3 on intermediates but pitted to change to wets, salvaging eighth place while team-mate Jenson Button stuck with the inferior tyre and ended up slowest in 10th.

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne was the other driver to reach the top 10 shootout, ending up ninth.

Williams pairing Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were the big-name casualties during Q2.

With everyone setting their times using wet Pirellis during the middle segment of the session, the Williams FW36 again struggled for traction in the low-grip conditions. And the pair ended up 13th and 14th respectively.

Vergne prevailed in a tense battle for the final Q3 slot, bumping Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat from the position in the dying seconds of the session.

Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez ended up 12th fastest ahead of the Williams pairing, with Lotus driver Romain Grosjean suffering a late spin and unable to do better than 16th after making Q2 for the first time this year.

Pastor Maldonado was unable to join his Lotus team-mate in the second phase of qualifying, ending up the fastest of those to miss the Q2 cut 0.385s slower than Vergne.

After the delayed start, every team apart from McLaren opted to send their drivers out on intermediate rubber in wet conditions, with the majority of the order dictated by pace during the first half of the session.

Sauber's Adrian Sutil, Marussia pairing Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton and the Caterhams of Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson were the others to fall in Q1.

The session was brought to a premature close when Ericsson lost it on a wet kerb at the exit of Turn 3 after what the Swede described as a "silly mistake" and spun into the barrier, rebounding and coming to rest on the track.

Pos Driver                Team                  Time       Gap   
 1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes              1m59.431s
 2. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m59.486s  +0.055s
 3. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              2m00.050s  +0.619s
 4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               2m00.175s  +0.744s
 5. Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault      2m00.541s  +1.110s
 6. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari               2m01.218s  +1.787s
 7. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  2m01.712s  +2.281s
 8. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes      2m02.213s  +2.782s
 9. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault    2m03.078s  +3.647s
10. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      2m04.053s  +4.622s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m36.811s                                   Gap **
11. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault    2m02.351s  +3.310s
12. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari        2m02.369s  +3.328s
13. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes     2m02.460s  +3.419s
14. Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes  2m02.511s  +3.470s
15. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes     2m02.756s  +3.715s
16. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         2m02.885s  +3.844s
Q1 cut-off time: 2m01.689s                                     Gap *
17. Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault         2m02.074s  +4.891s
18. Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari        2m02.131s  +4.948s
19. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari      2m02.702s  +5.519s
20. Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham-Renault      2m03.595s  +6.412s
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari      2m04.388s  +7.205s
22. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault      2m04.407s  +7.224s

107% time: 2m05.385s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
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