• Malaysian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel snatches pole from Lewis Hamilton

Chris Medland
April 9, 2011

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, after beating Lewis Hamilton with the final lap of a close qualifying session at Sepang.

Hamilton set the initial pace in the final session with a 1:35.000, with Vettel 0.1 seconds behind, Webber a similar distance back and Button fourth. Then on their second runs, Hamilton reduced his time, while neither Webber nor Button could beat him despite improving on their initial efforts. With the last lap though, Vettel pulled out the lap he needed to take pole by just 0.104s.

Fernando Alonso was fifth quickest, over half a second slower than Button immediately ahead of him, followed by Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa, with Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi rounding out the top ten.

Michael Schumacher was the man to drop out in the second session after Rosberg knocked him down to 11th with his final lap. Paul Di Resta also managed to out-qualify his Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil for the second race in a row.

Red Bull finally showed its true pace in Q2 when Webber did a 1:36.0, which was then just bettered by Vettel, as Christian Horner confirmed the team was running the KERS system. Behind them though, Button put together a fast lap to beat the pair by nearly 0.4 seconds. Renault was confident enough to only do one run in the session, with both Petrov and Heidfeld setting good times to go through comfortably.

Sebastian Buemi caused a red flag during the first session when his left sidepod cover flew off during an out lap. The stoppage severely compromised the strategy of some of the teams, with both Mercedes drivers requiring late runs to get through.

Lotus was the first team out after the delay, and both Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli posted competitive times to threaten the second qualifying session, but eventually missed out by 0.4 seconds. Just in front of them it was Williams who lost a car in the first session, with Pastor Maldonado unable to beat his team-mate Rubens Barrichello on his final run, running wide in the last corner and missing out by 0.2 seconds.

At the very back were the expected suspects of the two Virgins and the HRT pair, with Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan both getting comfortably within the 107% time.

Chris Medland is an Assistant Editor on ESPNF1.

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