- Malaysian GP - Qualifying
Hamilton edges Vettel to pole in wet conditionsLaurence Edmondson in Sepang March 29, 2014
Lewis Hamilton narrowly beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position in wet conditions at the Malaysian Grand Prix to move level with Jim Clark's British record of 33, following a qualifying hour delayed by monsoon conditions.
Hamilton's best time in Q3 was just 0.055s quicker than Vettel, who showed an impressive turn of pace in the wet after a tricky weekend for Red Bull. Vettel had a scare in Q1 when an energy store issue forced him to return to the pits, but he still managed to split the Mercedes as the Red Bull continues to build a reputation as a quick car in wet conditions. Nico Rosberg was over 0.5s off the battle for pole, but was the only driver to improve on his final lap in Q3 despite worsening conditions.
Fernando Alonso will line up fourth on the grid, but will consider himself lucky after his qualifying nearly came to an end in Q2 when he was involved in a collision with Daniil Kvyat at Turn 9. Daniel Ricciardo will start fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen after the Ferrari driver failed to emulate his impressive dry weather practice pace in the wet. Nico Hulkenberg did a solid job to qualify his Force India seventh ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who wrestled his McLaren to eighth. Jean-Eric Vergne will start ninth, while Jenson Button was the only driver to gamble on intermediates in Q3 and qualified 10th as a result.
Both Williamses were knocked out in Q2 as they struggled in the wet conditions, while a valiant effort by Romain Grosjean to qualify his poor-handling Lotus higher than it deserved ended with a spin and 16th position on the grid. Vergne just beat Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat into the top 10 by less than 0.3s, but the latter could face a penalty for his contact with Alonso at Turn 9. The clash caused a red flag and broke the Ferrari's front-left wishbone, but quick work by Alonso's mechanics meant he was able to rejoin the action and make it through to Q3.
After a 50-minute delay due to a passing rainstorm, Q1 got underway with the track dry enough for intermediate tyres. Light rain continued to fall throughout the session but it was not enough to require full wets. Pastor Maldonado missed the cut for Q2 by 0.3s but qualified ahead of Adrian Sutil's Sauber and the Marussias and Caterhams. Marcus Ericsson, who qualified last, brought an early end to the session when he lost the rear of his car on the slippery exit kerb at Turn 3 and tobogganed across the grass and into the barrier. With parts of his Caterham spread across the circuit and just 40 seconds left on the clock, Q1 was not restarted.
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1