Report – It was a wet qualifying in Sepang and its outcome means that the Ferraris will start from the second and third rows tomorrow. Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest in 2.00.175, with Kimi Raikkonen sixth, stopping the clocks in 2.01.218. Lewis Hamilton took the 33rd pole of his career for Mercedes with a 1.59.431. Alongside him will be Sebastian Vettel, with the Englishman’s team-mate, Nico Rosberg third.
Fernando’s fourth was an amazing achievement, due not only to the driver but also to his mechanics. Early in Q2, the Spaniard was hit by Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso and the impact broke the left steering arm on the F14 T. The guys changed it just five minutes, allowing Fernando to complete the session. As we knew, Kimi wasn’t so happy with the feeling from his car especially in the wet, but if you could see his ‘on-board’ footage, you would understand the meaning of the word ‘commitment’!
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m59.431s 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m59.486s +0.055s 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 2m00.050s +0.619s 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 2m00.175s +0.744s 5. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 2m00.541s +1.110s 6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 2m01.218s +1.787s 7. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 2m01.712s +2.281s 8. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 2m02.213s +2.782s 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 2m03.078s +3.647s 10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 2m04.053s +4.622s Q2 cut-off time: 1m36.811s Gap ** 11. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 2m02.351s +3.310s 12. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 2m02.369s +3.328s 13. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 2m02.460s +3.419s 14. Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 2m02.511s +3.470s 15. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 2m02.756s +3.715s 16. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2m02.885s +3.844s Q1 cut-off time: 2m01.689s Gap * 17. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 2m02.074s +4.891s 18. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 2m02.131s +4.948s 19. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 2m02.702s +5.519s 20. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 2m03.595s +6.412s 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 2m04.388s +7.205s 22. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 2m04.407s +7.224s
Kimi Raikkonen: “The rain made this qualifying very difficult. I knew that in the wet it would not be easy, but I didn’t expect to have so many problems. I had poor traction and on top of that, with the Extreme Wet, for some reason I was losing grip after the first lap. Now we have to find out why, as it will be useful for the coming races Clearly, I’m not happy with sixth place, but given the circumstances, I cannot say I’m surprised and now I only want to think about doing well tomorrow. It will be a tough race with particularly high temperatures, but I am reasonably confident, because we have gone better here than in Melbourne and if we don’t have any problems, we can think in terms of getting a better result. Overall, my feel for the car is improving and even if there is still a way to go, we are working in the right direction.”
Pat Fry: “We can regard this as a positive result. Qualifying was extremely close because of the weather and also because of the condition of our cars. The start positions are not really those we were aiming for, but all the same, they show the team is working in the right direction to close the gap to Mercedes. Q1 was relatively straightforward to read and then the mechanics did an amazing job on Fernando’s car, changing the steering arm in just a few minutes, after the collision with Kvyat’s Toro Rosso. He was back on track in record time and from then on, Fernando still had to fight to control the car and I think, in that situation, not many drivers could have done the lap he did in Q3. He really deserves our congratulations. Kimi’s performance was no less impressive: we know he’s not yet completely happy with the feeling of his F14 T and in the wet, he had some car balance problems, but I think he can have an attacking race from where he is on the grid. Once again here, Mercedes is setting the pace, but we will try and make the most of any opportunity, although the priority is to finish the race, because more than ever this year, you can’t take reliability for granted.”