2015: Malaysia Grand Prix – Qualifying Report

Mercedes continued at the top of the times in all three practice sessions once again. Nico Rosberg went fastest in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 3 while Lewis Hamilton was on top in Free Practice 2. Ferrari have been their nearest rivals so far this weekend with Kimi Raikkonen getting within four tenths of their fastest laps. Going into qualifying it looks like there could be a lot of close battles up and down the order.

Q1

Clouds closed in on the circuit just before the start of qualifying with a 60% chance of rain. Plenty of cars including both Mercedes, both Toro Rossos, and both McLarens took to the track early in the session to get some running in. The first lap-time of the session was a 1:47.214 from Roberto Merhi, taking part in his first F1 qualifying session. Max Verstappen quickly bettered this by over five seconds. Hamilton then topped the times going just a tenth clear of team-mate Rosberg. Will Stevens was forced to stay in the garage due to a fuel system problem and therefore did not set a lap-time. It will be at the stewards’ discretion whether or not he can race along with team-mate Merhi who was outside the 107%.  There was a late flurry of times but neither McLaren could improve out of the drop-zone.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:39.269
  2. Nico Rosberg 1:39.374
  3. Sebastian Vettel 1:39.814
  4. Carlos Sainz 1:39.814
  5. Valtteri Bottas 1:40.249
  6. Romain Grosjean 1:40.303
  7. Marcus Ericsson 1:40.340
  8. Pastor Maldonado 1:40.361
  9. Kimi Raikkonen 1:40.415
  10. Daniel Ricciardo 1:40.504
  11. Felipe Massa 1:40.543
  12. Daniil Kvyat 1:40.546
  13. Max Verstappen 1:40.793
  14. Nico Hulkenberg 1:40.830
  15. Sergio Perez 1:41.036
  16. Felipe Nasr 1:41.308
  17. Jenson Button 1:41.636
  18. Fernando Alonso 1:41.746
  19. Roberto Merhi 1:46.677
  20. Will Stevens No Time Set

Q2

Drivers queued at the end of the pit-lane for the start of Q2 with the threat of rain in the air. Vettel was at the head of the queue and was instantly joined by all 14 other drivers through to the next round of qualifying. It wasn’t long until the rain arrived with drivers trying to find clear air to set a lap time before it got too heavy. With nine minutes remaining the rain came down heavily meaning there would be no improvements. Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Perez and Sainz therefore dropped out having failed to set a fast enough lap time on their first run. Hamilton was heard complaining to his team that they hadn’t got him out on track in time. The team then revealed that they had problems getting the engine fired up. Hamilton had a power unit problem which compromised his running in FP1.

  1. Nico Rosberg 1:39.377
  2. Sebastian Vettel 1:39.632
  3. Valtteri Bottas 1:40.650
  4. Daniel Ricciardo 1:41.085
  5. Romain Grosjean 1:41.209
  6. Felipe Massa 1:41.230
  7. Max Verstappen 1:41.430
  8. Lewis Hamilton 1:41.517
  9. Daniil Kvyat 1:41.665
  10. Marcus Ericsson 1:41.748
  11. Kimi Raikkonen 1:42.173
  12. Pastor Maldonado 1:42.198
  13. Nico Hulkenberg 1:43.023
  14. Sergio Perez 1:43.469
  15. Carlos Sainz 1:43.701

Q3

After a washout in Q2, the pole position shoot out was delayed by at least 15 minutes initially. It was then delayed by a further 15 minutes. Another queue formed at the end of the pit-lane for the start of the third and final qualifying session. Some drivers went out on full wets while others opted for intermediates. Vettel recorded the first flying lap which was a 1:51.178, quickly beaten by Rosberg and then Hamilton. Verstappen slotted himself into third place. Hamilton’s provisional pole time was enough to keep pole position although he was just 0.0074s ahead of Ferrari driver Vettel who will start between the two Mercedes. Ricciardo will line up fourth for Red Bull, ahead of team-mate Kvyat with Verstappen, Massa, Grosjean, Bottas and Ericsson rounding out the top ten.

  1. Lewis Hamilton 1:49.834
  2. Sebastian Vettel 1:49.908
  3. Nico Rosberg 1:50.299
  4. Daniel Ricciardo 1:51.541
  5. Daniil Kvyat 1:51.951
  6. Max Verstappen 1:51.981
  7. Felipe Massa 1:52.473
  8. Romain Grosjean 1:52.981
  9. Valtteri Bottas 1:53.179
  10. Marcus Ericsson 1:53.261
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