Sepang international circuit is a moderate track with 59% full-throttle needed for an entire lap – severity on engine and tyre wear are key in this part of the world. Teams admitted they had a tough weekend so far – setting up the cars to pace – finding right balance between qualifying and race. Speaking of which, Lewis Hamilton had a tough season start – bit unlucky is well. His pace on saturday didn’t necessarily deliver him on sunday in Melbourne.
Practice sessions proved Mclaren’s pace once again. Q1 was started how it meant to be with both Mclarens making a strong run. Trouble struck Webber when he went as low as 17th on the grid. Mercedes’ cars did a very good run until people behind the back was desperate to mark a place in to Q2. Webber made a solid run to take the top stand on medium compund tyres.
Meanwhile, Massa down a place to Webber’s 17th, he managed to set a time that was well enough for Q2 in the expense of Eric Vergne who locked his front on the way to make his last run. Alonso took some life out of his mediums making a second run.
Maldonado had the car to put himself in to Q1 until he understeered on turn11 – bringing out yellow flags. Cars behind him had to make their runs to ensure Q1. Raikkonen set up an incredible lap to go highest on Q2. Mercedes’ last minute run was well enough to put them in Q1.
Raikkonen out on track first but his over judging on turn7 kerb resulted a time one-tenths slower than his fastest Q2 time. Hamilton’s single run was enough to get him on pole in Malaysia. Button splitted Michael and Lewis for P2 on his second run when Michael seemed just one-tenths off the pace of Hamilton. Mercedes’ Schumacher and Nico had to stick with a single run with the latter claiming P7.
Webber and Raikkonen set identical times – just a thousandth differing them – since Webber was first to run among two he secured P4. Raikkonen got a five-place grid penalty for new gearbox change so he will start from P10. Vettel took a little gamble – hard compounds had he used to see himself behind Webber second time in a row on P5.
Alonso settled with P8 despite having some KERS problem but he claimed that didn’t affect his car potential which lacked pace throughout the session. Perez broke in to top 10 for the first time as he lines up on P9. Overall, Mclarens rule the front row for second consecutive time this season.