Intermittent thunderstorms caused chaos in a superb and utterly unpredictable qualifying session which saw plenty of upset folk up and down the paddock. A familiar car took the front row slot for the race, but it wasn’t the usual young German – instead Mark Webber took the glory for once, well done that man!
Qualifying as it happened:
Qualifying Round 1 – “It could be you” – The lottery begins
Only a few minutes before round 1 was due to begin and the monsoon style rains made an appearance to give the track a good soaking and to make it a little more tricky, parts of the track were still dry. The top four teams remained in the pits and luckily for them the rain calmed down after 5 minutes. But just as Webber, Schumacher, Hamilton and Button were starting their quick laps, 10 minutes into the 20 minute session, the rain continued and Button flew off the track.
With the current champion’s car beached in the gravel trap, others pitted again for extreme wet tyres (as opposed to the more common ‘intermediate’ tyres)
With only 3 minutes to go, neither Ferrari had been on the track, which looked more like a supermarket car park in the north of England on a dreary Sunday in November than a super quick grand prix playground.
Sessions like this are often a bit of a lottery and while Kubica, De La Rosa and Vettel shared the jackpot, the Hispanias, Ferraris, Lewis Hamilton, the Virgin of Lucas Di Grassi and Lotus of Jarno Trulli came away from the first session with nothing.
Qualifying Round 2 – Schumacher scrapes through
The first session will have made the Lotus PR team’s day – having one of their cars in the second round of qualifying for the first time this year – at their (financial) home grand prix. The Virgin of Timo Glock also made it into this second session, which again was proving to be another lottery as the rain threatened to wreak havoc with the times.
Schumacher, Barrichello, Petrov, Kubica and Vettel all went to the top of the timesheets at some point, while in the end, both Toro Rossos, the sole remaining Virgin and Lotus cars and the Renault of Petrov joined Jenson Button in continuing no further with qualifying.
In the second session of today’s lottery, Adrian Sutil picked up a jackpot result, going 3rd fastest, just behind Kubica and Vettel.
Qualifying Round 3 – Webber takes the gamble
The session was terminated after less than 3 minutes, with red flags coming out as the conditions grew worse and became un-driveable with the rain coming harder.
In an unusual stroke of luck, one of F1’s unluckiest men, Mark Webber had intermediate tyres on his Red Bull while others had extreme wets and he put in a time, over a second clear of his nearest rival. By the time others had realised his stroke of genius, it was too late and the Aussie gent was sitting pretty.
Tune in later with F1 Badger, for more reports, stories and analysis from Malaysia.