Qualifying

Hello and welcome to ESPNF1's live coverage of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

So what can we make of FP3? Ferrari looked closer, and importantly quicker than Williams, but we've seen Mercedes turn the wick up before when it comes to the laps that matter in qualifying.

Risk of rain is "high" in Sepang but very hard to tell when or if it will hit the circuit during qualifying. Current heat is 32 degrees C in air, 55 degrees C on track. Humidity is 58% and rising.

In other words, it's toasty.

Here's our report from FP3 to whet your appetite ahead of this session.

Button still sporting a Mansell-esque moustasche this weekend.

McLaren will also be of interest today. There's clearly been a step forward since Melbourne but the team is still a long, long way off the pace. But Alonso could challenge for a place in Q2 today if FP3 is anything to go by.

I can't look past a Mercedes lock out but there are three fascinating team-mate battles to look at - the guys in the silver cars, as well as Ferrari and Williams.

Less than five minutes until the start of Q1.

Clouds circling and there's some grey in the sky. Rain could be on the menu later but you can never be certain in Malaysia.

Race against the clock taking place at Manor.

The clock is ticking and Q1 is under way.

Verstappen is the first man out on track. No real rush out on the circuit as teams start trying to second guess the weather.

Rosberg heads straight out on the option tyre. Button also one of the early drivers to emerge from the garage.

Ricciardo and Kvyat head out together. Hamilton also on track.

Merhi is out in the other Manor.

Mercedes going out on mediums will be bad news for Manor, of course, as it is likely to lower the 107% time required for the minnows to make tomorrow's grid.

Hairy moment for Verstappen as he gets a bit sideways into the final corner. Not a great start to Q1 - that was an out lap but it compromised the start of his flying lap and it looks like he's already bailed out of that one.

Thunder and lightning in the distance.

Rosberg goes fastest with a 1:39.374, but Hamilton immediately jumps ahead by a tenth.

Actually, that mistake came on Verstappen's flying lap - he still crossed in fifth position. Team-mate Sainz currently the best of the rest behind Mercedes with a 1:40.843 but we've yet to see from Williams or Ferrari...

Interestingly, Williams has sent both drivers out on hard tyres and Bottas still goes third, albeit a second down on Hamilton. Strange Mercedes came straight out on the mediums.

Ferrari also out on the hard compound.

Vettel goes third, five tenths slower than Hamilton's medium tyre time.

Merhi has been off at Turn 4 - he's had a couple of spins this weekend. It's the Spaniard's debut F1 weekend, remember.

Button can only manage 17th with his first medium tyre lap. That's not good enough for Q2 at the moment.

It's not looking good for McLaren as Alonso is only one tenth up on Button in 16th.

Lots of cars returning to the garage. Some teams will be happier than others as it stands.

Perez, Kvyat, Alonso, Button, Merhi and Stevens currently in the drop zone. Merhi's current time is outside the 107% while Stevens hasn't emerged from the garage yet.

Some times for you:

Kvyat, currently in the drop zone, is out there in his Red Bull RB11.

Verstappen crosses the line seventh, ahead of Toro Rosso team-mate Sainz.

It's getting really, really dark over the circuit now. Ricciardo goes sixth with his latest run.

Ericsson - who has never qualified for Q2 in his career - has dropped back into the relegation zone. Perez still there in the Force India ahead of the McLarens.

Wow. Sainz goes fourth with his latest lap, a 1:39.814. That's exactly the same time set by Vettel!

Some very impressive bolts of lightning in the background. Could be a rather interesting session in a few minutes.

Lots of focus was on Verstappen coming into this season but so far Sainz has been mighty impressive in the other Toro Rosso. He was very unlucky in Australia and a strong weekend could be on the cards for the Spaniard.

The guys in the drop zone are all out on track, as Perez jumps into 11th with a 1:41.036.

Chequered flags are out. Alonso one of the men out trying to improve on his lap but his middle sector has been poor.

No change! Button jumps above Alonso with his last-gasp lap to out-qualify the McLaren but both men are out.

Ericsson and Grosjean both leap clear of the drop zone late on.

Merhi's time outside of the 107%. Stevens couldn't get out of the garage. Not a great afternoon for Manor....

I tell you what, I didn't expect Button to out-qualify Alonso today. The Spaniard had the edge all weekend but Button just found enough time where it mattered.

Button reports to McLaren he couldn't get the tyres working in sector one.

After his heroics in Melbourne, Nasr drops out of Q1. That missed FP1 session looking costly for the Brazilian.

Manor will need to apply to the stewards if they are to compete in tomorrow's race.

If Manor does not get permission to compete tomorrow, two drivers with three world championships between them will occupy the back row of the grid.

Q2 is under way and there's a mad dash with that threat of imminent rain.

You don't see this very often in qualifying. Cars vying for position on out laps in order to have a bit of space for a flying lap.

Vettel the only man who will have a clear run. Everyone else has traffic of some sort to contend with. Looked like Raikkonen had hung well back at the end of that lap.

Ferrari tells Vettel this is the lap which will count so rain must be imminent.

Vettel goes quickest but is immediately knocked down by Rosberg. The interesting stories will be lower down the grid.

Hamilton can only manage fifth, he crossed right behind Ericsson in the Sauber.

Hamilton in real trouble if it rains now. He's got a bit more clear air but he's 2.140s down on Rosberg. Rain falling in the middle sector so Hamilton might be OK.

If that is the case, Raikkonen is out of Q2!

The rain is falling now so we won't see any improvements. What a disaster for Raikkonen having had the edge over Vettel all weekend. It looks like Raikkonen got held up by a Sauber at the end of his flying lap. In fact, Ericsson was the man holding him up and has made it into Q3!

It's absolutely bucketing it down out there now. Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Perez and Sainz drop out. Ericsson and Verstappen the big winners in the session.

A rather irritated Hamilton tells Mercedes they left too much time to send him out at the start of the session. He just about got away with it.

James Smithers says: "It is virtually 95-100% sure it will rain late in the day during the rainy season in Malaysia, so why hold the race when you know it is going to pour?"

We could be in for a bit of a delay.

Those provisional Q2 times for you.

The chequered flag is out but the next session will be delayed by at least 15 minutes, race control confirms. It's a bit wet out there.

How McLaren must be wishing that rain came about 20 minutes earlier.

Merc radio:

Lewis Hamilton on radio: "If it carries on like this do i have to start P8?"

Merc reply: "No, in that case we would resume qualifying tomorrow"

Sunset is in one hour and 40 minutes.

The rain appears to have eased off so now it's a case of how quickly the circuit drains out.

The more you look at it, the more you realise how lucky Hamilton was there. He could have been in the drop zone with Raikkonen.

Kimi will be kicking himself as he looked good for third this weekend.

The safety car has left the pits to assess the track.

Still looks pretty wet out there.

Q3 will start at 18:15 local time at the earliest.

The F1 timing screens not dealing with the rain very well...

For anyone just joining, qualifying has been delayed until at least 1815 local time due to a heavy rain storm which hit during Q2. Kimi Raikkonen was the biggest casualty, getting caught in traffic and failing to get into the top ten with his one and only lap in the middle session.

"We got it wrong. We should have been out earlier but that's how it is," says Raikkonen.

The safety car is back out to test the track conditions out there.

Race control confirms qualifying will resume in five minutes.

The track should dry quickly with the heat here but this will still be an interesting session. The final runs will be crucial.

Both Williams drivers head to the end of the pits with full wets on their cars. They're going to be waiting there for an awfully long time.

Nice long queue at the end of the pit lane. Ferrari and Red Bull have opted for the green-stiped intermediate. Sauber's Marcus Ericsson out there on the wet tyre.

Intermediates for Rosberg.

Here we go. The clock is ticking and finally Q3 is under way.

Bottas leads the pack out. Hamilton also departs on intermediate tyres.

Bottas tells Williams there are no big wet spots on the track. Asks whether they want one timed lap from him or come in for intermediates. Lots of spray around, which is evident from the on-board camera shots.

Bottas continues for a flying lap then, so no switch to intermediates for him or Massa.

The intermediate tyres clearly quicker looking at the sector times.

Bottas and Massa bail out into the pits. Vettel sets the first benchmark but Rosberg immediately topples it with a 1:51.066.

Hamilton then leaps into provisional pole by two tenths. The Williams boys head straight back out on intermediates.

Verstappen moves into third! A 1:52.896 puts him above Vettel.

Vettel reclaims third position with a 1:51.617 - two tenths quicker - as the track continues to dry out. Quite a lot of cars returning to the pits for fresh intermediates.

Ricciardo puts himself into sixth with a 1:53.317.

Rosberg stops for intermediates, followed immediately by Hamilton. The Merc drivers head straight back out.

Bottas massively down on the lead time and jumps back into the pit lane. Massa follows immediately. Williams have got this session horribly wrong.

Both Williams drivers take on fresh intermediates. The key now is nailing a lap at the death on fresh rubber.

Rosberg crosses the line and looks to have bailed out of his lap. Hamilton behind seems to be on a flying lap.

Blue flags out for Rosberg but he doesn't jump out of the racing line for Hamilton! Naughty stuff from the German. Has the Brit slowed down in front? He has. The world champion had set a personal best first sector.

Less than one minute and a half to go so this is all we will have time for now. Pole very much up for grabs.

Rosberg asks for the ideal line but Mercedes replies it cannot give him advice.

Hamilton goes quickest in the first sector on his final lap. Rosberg can only manage a personal best.

Vettel goes second, 0.074s off Hamilton's last time.

Hamilton looks like he's backed off.

Ricciardo goes fourth and Bottas can only manage seventh! Massa slots into sixth.

Rosberg third! He can't topple Vettel! Hamilton takes pole position as Verstappen takes sixth in his second grand prix weekend.

Great job from Vettel. "Great job, great job!" is the call on the radio. Hamilton's first lap was enough - just - for pole.

Will be fascinating to hear from the Mercedes drivers after that moment on track where Rosberg appeared to hold up Hamilton. Or at least, not get off the racing line for his team-mate. Seems he was made to pay for it because he ended up falling behind Vettel into third.

Well then, great race ahead of us tomorrow. There's a Ferrari in the mix, a 17-year-old on the second row, and the result completely up in the air. Please join us again for the Malaysian Grand Prix.