F1 Malaysia: Quali; Webber on Pole in Rain-Stopped Session, Hamilton & Ferraris Out in Q1

What Happens When the Rain Becomes Difficult

5:27am EST — Mark Webber took pole over Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, and Nico Hulkenberg.  Michael Schumacher will start the Malaysian GP eighth.  Both Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, along with Lewis Hamilton were knocked out of Q1 with bad strategy for the rain-impeded qualifying session.  They will start nineteenth, twenty-first, and twentieth, respectively.  The session was stopped for fifteen minutes in Q3 as Red Bull continued their dominance of qualifying for the 2010 season.  Will the cars make it to the end of the race?  More importantly, will the weather hold for the cars to actually complete the race?

A very rainy qualifying for the Malaysian GP got started after a third practice session that saw Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel bring some Red Bull speed to bear on Lewis Hamilton’s dominance at the end of an occasionally rainy practice.  Webber posted the fastest time of the session and weekend (1:33.542), with Hamilton second, Vettel third, with Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher rounding out the top five.  All were in the 1:33s range.

With the rain falling, the field, barring McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari, was on-track immediately.  The track was both wet and dry in places and some spins and trips through the gravel de rigeur.  Four minutes into the twenty-minute session and everyone was out and setting some sort of time but Lucas di Grassi. With eight minutes left, Kubica leads de la Rosa, Vettel, Petrov, and Kobayashi while Button had beached his 13th-fastest McLaren in the gravel with Kubica flyingn off just after but continuing on as Button had to be craned out.  Most started the session on intermediates, but Schumacher made the switch to wets with five minutes left.  Thirteen and a half seconds cover the field, with di Grassi finally attempting some laps as the field struggled to stay on-track in the wet.  The weather report suggested that the rain should clear up for Q2, but would likely rain again for Q3.  With two and a half minutes left, Trulli, Massa, Alonso, Chandhok, Senna, Hamilton, and di Grassi were in the knockout zone.  Alonso spun on his second to last lap, but managed to start another in time, as did Schumacher, Rosberg, and those in the knockout zone (barring Trulli) attempted one last flyer.  In a bit of a shocker, both Ferraris and Hamilton did not managed to post a fast enough time to move forward.  Massa spun quite dramatically right at the end, and Ferrari offered this pithy response to the session on Twitter, “it was a very bad session.”  Later, during Q2, the team would say, “there is not too much to say, we waited too long in the garage and, together with others, we made a mistake which was paid highly.”

Knocked Out at the End of Q1:
18. Trulli
19. Alonso
20. Hamilton
21. Massa
22. Chandhok
23. Senna
24.di Grassi

With the rain appearing to have stopped, nearly every car was immediately on track in Q2.  Some teams were still using wets, with Virgin Racing quite excited, “Blinking flip! This is nerve racking.”  With ten minutes to go, it was Schumacher, Petrov, Kubica, Hulkenberg, and Rosberg the five fastest, with Sutil, Liuzzi, Barrichello, Kovalainen, Buemi, Glock, and an as-yet not running in Q2 Button in the knockout zone.  WIth five minutes left, the Williams’ had moved up to second and third fastest, then ahead of Schumacher, only to be knocked back to 2nd and 3rd by a fast lap by Vettel, then Kubica.  Three minutes to go, and no one surprising was in the knockout zone: Kobayashi, de la Rosa, Glock, Alguersuari, Kovalainen, Buemi, and a still not running Button.  Then Kobayashi moved up to sixth.  Two mintues left and the rain began to reassert itself (after not quite stopping) again.  One minute left and Webber was down in the knockout zone as teammate Vettel was fastest.  Then Webber moved to seventh with a fastest of the session sector one.  At the end of the session, Veteel led Kubica, Sutil, Hulkenberg, and Rosberg, with Schumacher just moving forward from tenth fastest.  Despite being knocked out in Q1 and Q2, Virgin Racing was a bit cheeky with Timo Glock’s 16th place start, “I guess we can’t complain about being ahead of button, massa,alonso and Hamilton! ;-)”  The circiut had continued to be dry in some places and quite wet in others.

Knocked Out at the End of Q2:
11. Petrov
12. de la Rosa
13. Buemi
14. Alguersuari
15. Kovalainen
16. Glock
17. Button

The Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi, on wets, were the first to line up, but Kubica managed to sneak out first, with everyone else close behind.  The circuit remained wet, with much spray clouding the visors of the drivers attempting to sit on pole, a very important position for the likely very, very wet race Sunday, as Q3 looked to be the wettest of the three qualifying sessions.  The beginning of Q3 was about an hour into race time, as the session was red flagged with just over seven minutes left and no times posted, as race control decided that conditions were too wet to run, as standing water littered the circuit, and an “indefinite delay” would be in place.  Ten minutes later, the rain looked to have stopped and the session restarted fifteen minutes after it was stopped.
The Force Indias again were at the head of the queue to leave the pits, but side by side so as to keep any line-cutting to a minimum.  Sutil posted the fastest of the first flying laps, over Kubica, Hulkenberg, Barrichello, and Schumacher.  Vettel and Webber were sixth and ninth with a minute and a half left in the session, with heavy rain threatening yet again.  They moved up to Webber (on inters) fastest and Vettel third with time for one lap each left in the session.  Webber then beat his own time, by over a second, to claim pole.

Final Qualifying Positions for the 2010 Malaysian GP:
1. Webber 1:49.327
2. Rosberg 1:50.673
3. Vettel 1:50.789
4. Sutil 1:50.914
5. Hulkenberg 1:51.001
6. Kubica 1:51.051
7. Barrichello 1:51.511
8. Schumacher 1:51.717
9. Kobayashi 1:51.767
10. Liuzzi 1:52,254


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