• Malaysian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel surprised by advantage

ESPN Staff
March 23, 2013 « FIA still struggling with telemetry glitch | Rain helped Ferrari - Massa »
Sebastian Vettel took his 38th career pole position at Sepang © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel admitted that he is "surprised" by the advantage he held over the rest of the field after qualifying on pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

With Red Bull struggling during the dry part of qualifying in Q1 and Q2, a wet final session saw all drivers setting times on the intermediate tyre and Vettel coming out on top by almost a second from Felipe Massa. Crucial to that result was the decision to change to a new set of intermediates halfway through Q3, and Vettel says he thinks Red Bull has got its strategy right so far even though he was in danger of dropping out of qualifying early.

"It was an interesting qualifying session," Vettel said. "We knew that rain was on the way and to be honest we expected some at the beginning of qualifying - it didn't come - so we were going out on drys and obviously I think we had a little bit of a different approach to other people. Q2 was quite on edge, so probably the rain helped us a little bit because otherwise we would have had to go out again but in that case it was just enough to go through to Q3.

"Then in Q3 with the circuit drying it was clear that it was probably better to change tyres and we confirmed that pretty early. I think we did the right thing, it was very tricky because you don't know if there's more rain coming or not but we took the decision. I was surprised by the gap; I had a decent lap and was very happy. Obviously it was quite tricky because some parts of the track were wet and others were dry but all-in-all a very good session for us. I think we managed to save some tyres which could be crucial tomorrow so we'll see what we can do."

Vettel added his belief that Red Bull has the quickest car but isn't able to get the right amount performance from it combined with the Pirelli tyres.

"If you start in the front you always want to finish there as well. I think it will be a long race and difficult to know the true pace but we confirmed more or less what we felt in Melbourne. I was very happy with the balance of the car once again. Also considering where we were last year here it's a big step forward, but these days racing is a little bit different so hopefully we find the right amount of percentage less than 100% to start the race tomorrow. Managing the tyres will be crucial and then we go from there; we know the pace is there so hopefully we can get to the chequered flag in the same position."