McLaren continued their terrific start to the season with another 1-2 for the grid in Malaysia, Lewis Hamilton again ahead of Jenson Button.  Behind them Michael Schumacher enjoyed a great run the in the Mercedes to line up 3rd on the grid ahead of the two Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.

KimiRaikkonen set the 5th fastest lap, but due to a gearbox issue he takes a 5-place penalty to start 10th.  His team mate Romain Grosjean produced another solid day to line up 6th, ahead of Nico Rosberg in 7th.  Fernando Alonso dragged his reluctant Ferrari to 8th on Sunday’s grid ahead of Sergio Perez in 9th for Sauber.

It’s worth noting that Vettel was the only driver in the top 10 to complete his fastest lap on the harder of the two tyre compounds available.  The harder Pirelli is thought to be a better race choice so he could be smiling a little more come the flag on Sunday.

The midfield teams continue to fight and extremely close battle with 0.5s covering 10th-16th places on the grid.  Pastor Maldonado had a good chance to sneak his Williams into the top 10 but a mistake on his first run in Q2 which left him bouncing over gravel, damaging his car and possibly his confidence too.  He’s left to start 11th, which is still a marked improvement for Williams compared to 2011.

Heikki Kovalainen qualified 18th for Caterham, but will start 24th and last due to a 5-place penalty carried over from the Australian GP where he overtook under the safety car.  He maintained his seat of authority within the team though, producing a faster qualifying time than Petrov.  In other team-mate battles, Paul di Resta has made it 1-1 against Hulkenberg today by outqualifying his fellow Force India.

Provisional Grid For Sunday:

POSDriverTeamTimeDiff
1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren/Mercedes1'36.219-
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Mercedes1'36.3680.149
3M.SchumacherMercedes1'36.3910.172
4Mark WebberRed Bull/Renault1'36.4610.242
5Sebastian VettelRed Bull/Renault1'36.6340.415
6Romain GrosjeanLotus/Renault1'36.6580.439
7Nico RosbergMercedes1'36.6640.445
8Fernando AlonsoFerrari1'37.5661.347
9Sergio Peu008erezSauber/Ferrari1'37.6981.479
10Kimi Rau008aikkou009anenLotus/Renault1'36.4610.242
11Pastor MaldonadoWilliams/Renault1'37.5891.370
12Felipe MassaFerrari1'37.7311.512
13Bruno SennaWilliams/Renault1'37.8411.622
14Paul Di RestaForce India/Mercedes1'37.8771.658
15Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso/Ferrari1'37.8831.664
16Nico Hu009flkenbergForce India/Mercedes1'37.8901.671
17Kamui KobayashiSauber/Ferrari1'38.0691.850
18Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso/Ferrari1'39.0772.858
19Vitaly PetrovCaterham/Renault1'39.5673.348
20Timo GlockMarussia/Cosworth1'40.9034.684
21Charles PicMarussia/Cosworth1'41.2505.031
22Pedro de la RosaHRT/Cosworth1'42.9146.695
23N.KarthikeyanHRT/Cosworth1'43.6557.436
24H.KovalainenCaterham/Renault1'39.3063.087
Lewis and Jenson, all smiles ahead of the Malaysian GP