• Malaysian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Webber masterful in wet as Ferrari and McLaren falter

ESPNF1 Staff
April 3, 2010 « KERS back on the agenda | »

Mark Webber took a sensational pole position in Malaysia after thunderstorms turned qualifying on its head and Ferrari and McLaren failed to make it out of Q1.

Webber and Red Bull made the right decisions throughout the extended hour, to ensure their place in all three knockout stages and eventually outfox the rest of the top ten in Q3. The final session was stopped after just three minutes due to monsoon conditions, and on the restart Webber gambled on intermediate tyres as his competitors played the percentages on full wets. At first the decision looked misjudged, but as the rain held off and the steamy conditions dried the track, Webber started to find masses of time from his tyres - beating second place Nico Rosberg by over a second. However, Webber is still within the striking distance of his in-form team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who will start directly behind him on the grid in third.

The race is perfectly poised to offer a thrilling spectacle whatever the weather on Sunday, as Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa will have to fight through the field from 19th, 20th and 21st on the grid respectively. They were caught out by worsening conditions in Q1 and elected to sit out of the early running, when the track was wet in places, in the hope it would dry completely. But their faith was misplaced, leaving Ferrari and McLaren red-faced as their cars were out-qualified by the likes of Lotus and Virgin. Jenson Button did make Q2 but a spin into the gravel at turn six in Q1 put an end to his session and will see him start from 17th position.

At the front of the grid Adrian Sutil put in a fine lap for fourth in the Force India. He has shown form in wet sessions before and will be keen to make up for his disappointing start to the season on race day. Nico Hulkenberg is fifth in the Williams ahead of Robert Kubica, who looked fast throughout all three sessions, and Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher failed to match his wet-weather performances of old and will line up in eighth place ahead of the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and the Force India of Tonio Liuzzi.

New teams Lotus and Virgin reached a milestone in their debut year by making it into the final session of qualifying. Heikki Kovalainen will start from 15th place while Timo Glock is 16th on the grid, one place ahead of Button. HRT managed to lift itself off the very back of the grid, after Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna coped marginally better in the wet conditions than Virgin's Lucas di Grassi.

Afternoon thunderstorms have been plaguing the circuit all week, and with Sunday's race starting at the same time as today's qualifying, it will likely be interrupted at least once by rain.