Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Sepang, 2012

McLaren lock out the front row again in Malaysia

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Sepang, 2012Lewis Hamilton put a McLaren on pole position for the first time at the Sepang International Circuit.

Team mate Jenson Button made it a McLaren one-two after relegating Michael Schumacher to third place with his final run.


Mercedes were quickest in the first part of qualifying until a group of drivers had to make second runs in a bid to ensure they reached Q2.

These included Mark Webber, who briefly fell as low as 17th before setting the fastest time of the session with a late run on the hard tyres.

Felipe Massa also had a scare: he was 18th after the first runs, 1.1 seconds slower than his team mate and facing the threat of elimination.

Both Ferrari drivers returned to the track for a second run on the softer medium tyres and Massa posted a big enough improvement to ensure his progression to Q2.

He made it at the expensive of Jean-Eric Vergne, who locked up his tyres at the start of his final lap and failed to make the cut.

Unlike last week, all the drivers were within the 107% time. Narain Karthikeyan was inside the target by three-tenths of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Ferrari1’39.077
19Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault1’39.306
20Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault1’39.567
21Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth1’40.903
22Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth1’41.250
23Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth1’42.914
24Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth1’43.655


Pastor Maldonado understeered off at turn 11 on his first effort which caused problems both for him and the cars immediately behind.

Hamilton was one of the first drivers on the scene and was anxious to ensure he wouldn’t get a penalty for going past the trouble spot too quickly. “I didn’t see any yellow flags,” he told his team. “We saw there was no time to react whatsoever,” they responded.

Maldonado and several other drivers who had to back off for the yellow flags needed to run again.

Massa’s last run temporarily got him into the top ten at the expense of his team mate. But Alonso’s final run and improvements from other drivers knocked Massa out of qualifying.

The Mercedes drivers left it until the dying moments of the session to secure their places in Q3, but did so comfortably. Raikkonen ended the session quickest.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault1’37.589
12Felipe MassaFerrari1’37.731
13Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault1’37.841
14Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes1’37.877
15Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso-Ferrari1’37.883
16Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’37.890
17Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’38.069


Raikkonen was first to set a lap in Q1 but he took too much kerb at turn seven and was a tenth off his best lap from Q2.

He was beaten by both the McLarens – first Button, then Hamilton, who went quickest with a 1’36.219 despite locking his front-left tyre at the final corner.

The Mercedes drivers limited themselves to a single run. Rosberg had a slightly scruffy lap and took fourth, while Schumacher claimed second, just under two-tenths slower than Hamilton.

As was the case in Melbourne, Hamilton’s first effort proved quick enough for pole position. Button posted an improvement on his second lap which got him ahead of Schumacher – but not Hamilton.

Webber and Raikkonen set times that were identical to one-thousandths of a second – Webber claiming the place ahead as he set the time first. Raikkonen’s grid penalty means he will start the race tenth.

Vettel gambled on the hard compound for his second run and produced a quicker time, meaning he will start the race on the more durable tyres.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’36.219
2Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’36.368
3Michael SchumacherMercedes1’36.391
4Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’36.461
5Kimi RaikkonenLotus-Renault1’36.461
6Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’36.634
7Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’36.658
8Nico RosbergMercedes1’36.664
9Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’37.566
10Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’37.698

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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213 comments on “McLaren lock out the front row again in Malaysia”

  1. Everybody did well except Massa and Senna. I wish Ferrari would be more competitive than today as they were in Australasia. Still it’s hard to imagine Alonso finish ahead of Kimi. Mercedes’ race pace is the key of the game. They weren’t good in Oz.

    1. Just to bring this to a broader audience :-P

      Wasn’t the verdict that Schumacher amd Raikkonen were too old, kind of useless and should give younger more talented drivers a chance?! Maybe I’m just a bit too happy for their good performances but still..

      And Massa seemed improved, but looking at him driving the car is painful, it just never clings on to the line the driver wants to go.

      1. Wasn’t the verdict that Schumacher amd Raikkonen were too old, kind of useless and should give younger more talented drivers a chance?

        Says who?

        I’ve heard that argument applied to Jarno Trulli, but not those two.

        1. OH, it’s out there, even Webber gets it.

          1. Its been on this site too, plenty of “schumacher is just too slow to compete with this generation of drivers” etc etc.

        2. I don’t think there’re people think Kimi is old but surely Schumacher have had some doubt.

        3. Just a few hours ago I had to read from people that Grosjean will definitely be ahead of Raikkonen all season amd that he is so incompetent he damaged his gearbox. And Schumacher has been written out of F1 ever since Rosberg outqualified him in the first year. Also I remember in testing and free practice in Melbourne many people were sure they gave him an empty car just to boost his confidence.
          Afterall, this was only the second qualifying but I’m very content about how it went.

        4. I know you read the comments Keith, surely you’ve seen it.

          1. I have no idea whether what’s being referred to is a comment or something else.

        5. come on, keith, don’t be shy. we know YOU didn’t it, but the newspapers were full of it. kind of childish to deny that.

          1. @rankx22 I’m not denying anything, I’m saying I don’t know what’s being referred to here.

            Seeing that one person thinks it’s in response to comments that have been made on the site, and you think it’s in response to what’s been written in newspapers, I think that’s pretty justified!

          2. Yeah I’ma have to side against you Keith, X driver is too old and should move over to give new guys ago comes up a lot in many places. -.-

        6. Where have you been man!!?? Even Eddie Jordan on the BBC broadcast was talking about it being Schumacher’s last year (2011) if he doesn’t improve his performances and that Paul Di Resta should replace him at Mercedes this year in 2012.

      2. Who cares, people say what they think at the moment and we can’t blame them for it. Nevertheless, I am sure that even those who misjudged those drivers, are happy they’re proven wrong at the moment because we get the best mix-up ever.

    2. Admittedly I was half asleep, but looking at the times I don’t see how either driver was particularly bad. Unless he had a problem, then Kobayashi was actually one of the weakest compared to his team-mate.

    3. Rosberg was a massive dissapointment. It’s two weekends in a row that he fails to match his team mate because of an error in the crucial last lap.

      He’s either cracking under pressure or he’s not as comfortable in the car as the times suggest.

      1. IMO the reason is his poor physical condition. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great athlete but not as good in comparison with the others drivers. I can’t stand seeing him sweating like a poor pinky piggy inside his helmet. !!!! :) He is so cute….. “Please…. Mr. Martin Brundle bring me a bottle of icy cold water and spill it all over my helmet !!!”

        1. Right…..

          Why can’t it be mandatory to sign in to post?

          The car, or regs, obviously don’t suit Rosberg as well as they did, either that or Schumacher has finally got on top of his game, or probably a mix of both. Same as Webber being back on Vettel’s level.

          1. I am a signed user ….. Mike….. Right! Are you?

            I am referring to the incident from FP1 where Brundle “took” advantage of his position and put his mic …. Mike …. in the nose to Pic. Did my piggy comment offended you…..?
            I am sorry about that….

            How can Rosberg driving style make him had that huge lock up in his final qualy lap? That was the reason he is not in 3rd or 4th possition for the race.

            Webber has not up his game this year (at least until now). In Australia was 4th and Vettel 2nd. This time around Vettel has a different strategy with the hard tyres…. Did you watched Qualy yesterday? Or is it that you are not registered…… this is a joke…..

      2. I think it’s a case of Rosberg not being quite as comfortable in this year’s Merc. compared to Schumacher , and also that Schumacher is now , after two full seasons , more used to driving style of todays’ cars. That said , I would not write off Rosberg just yet , and think even more will come out of Schumacher very soon. If Merc can get their tyre problems under control , they could well be the team challenging McLaren (who look to be the best so far) this year.

    4. One of the keys for the bad qualy from ferrari is the engines IMO. Fernado and Felipe recorded very low high speed (300 and 303 Kph respectively). Same goes to Sauber as well. Only Toro Rosso creates low drag with 313 and 310 kph for their drivers…..

      Another thing is that Sauber and Ferrari were the only one who couldn’t better their time in Q3. Is like the can’t do anything with their fuel…… I can’t understand what it us going on but I think they are still missing much with their ICU programming and fuel maps….. all the others use 3 (which might be illegal) or 4 cylinders, blowing fire when they brake and other things….. that Scuderia Ferrari is doing?

      1. I don’t think Ferrari engine is the problem. As far as I’ve seen for last 2 years, top speed means almost nothing but it’s easy to overtake in straight. I think they might opted for the race…

      2. The exhaust regs have been tightened considerably since last year, teams can no longer have off throttle exhaust due to the mandatory limitations caused by the standardized ECU amongst other changes, If the cars were creating off throttle exhaust, then you would hear it in the gravel sounding noise they were creating through the corners last year.

        If Ferrari had a disadvantage due to power, Ferrari would be complaining very loudly about it. Really, the low Ferrari top speed will be due to them running a high drag producing aerodynamic package.

  2. Go Ham!!!

    1. Not going to go too well with a flat-spotted front left :(

      1. He is on a brand new set of tyres as the flat spotted left front was on his first timed lap.

        1. Drivers in Q3 start the race on the tyres they set their fastest lap on. Hamilton set his fastest lap on those tyres, so if they are damaged he will have to live with it.

          And I can’t pass up the opportunity to add: it’s a stupid rule.

          1. couldn’t agree more keith..

          2. Brawn mentioned they were allowed to change the tyre in a similar situation last week, so if it is genuinely bad I would expect it to be swapped.

          3. Keith, just a question.So why Ham didn’t complete his last lap?Just to keep fresh this medium set of tyres (just for the in lap?)

          4. Why would it be stupid? it applies to everybody. It is just one of those things that you have to look into. its all part of the game. He made a mistake so he will pay for it just like any mistake any driver does.

          5. why Ham didn’t complete his last lap?

            Hamilton was slower at the beginning of the lap, looks like he aborted it:


          6. @brixspeed Kieth did say stupid, and not unfair.

          7. its not a stupid rule as its something the driver massively effects. its down to him to take care of his tyres and drive fast.

            unlike the gearbox change rule. Which should just be a point removed from the constructors or something of that nature.

          8. It is a stupid rule as p11 has a tactical advantag to p10 and even p9!

            it also means if someone uses a scrub set for their first run and then their second run is ruined by someone getting in the way or a yellow flag they will have to start on the scrubs even if they had been on for a better lap.

          9. So maybe the people who made these rules are stupid?

        2. No. Don’t write lies. The tires he had when he did his fastest lap was the set of tires in which he had a huge flat spot. Look at the slow motion replay. That tire is almost square and he will have to start the race with that tire.

          1. Unless it is bad enough they can pretend it is unsafe, like Mercedes did last week.

          2. i don’t disagree with you.But I say that he was on a new set of tyres in his last lap (which he didn’t complete).What’s the gain for Ham not to complete that lap(besides the in lap)?I would like a comment,an idea if someone knows

          3. He was just saving a lap on tyres he will use later in the race – thats pretty obvious.

          4. Don’t write lies.

            A bit over the top – they might just have misunderstood the rules.

          5. they are allowed to rebalance the tyres before the race.

      2. he had a bit of a lock up and they were saying it cost him some time. Does a lock up automatically mean a flat spot? I always thought it was relative…..

        1. No. Go watch the slow motion replay and see that the tire is in really bad condition. Also it will. Otbe allowed to be change ’cause it is hampton who damaged with his style.

          1. just wondering if it’s that bad, why he wouldn’t have tried to improve on his Q3 time using a different set? maybe they are not as worried about it.

        2. Paul Ogbeiwi (@)
          24th March 2012, 10:10

          the race is probably gonna be wet tomorrow anyway. if not hamiltons flat spot would only be a problem at the start of the race. i’m sure he can handle that. either way, the race is looking good for lewis tomorrow.

          1. I don’t think it’s too bad. If it rains before the start, he’ll be on a different set of tyres. If it rains just after the start, he won’t have to do too long on the flat-spotted set. If there’s no rain, the team can try to argue that it’s dangerous, but even if they fail in that, they can still re-balance the tyre, and in any case, it will be the set of tyres that Hamilton spends the least time on tomorrow.

            He should be more worried about Button overtaking him at the first corner again, if you ask me!

        3. It depends on how long the wheel is stationary or not rotating, as its literally scraping flat against the tarmac. A brief lock up is usually ok.

  3. Did Fernando run on hard tyres? Had he really a KERS problem?

    1. No, that’s just the car – it’s horrible.

    2. No, on his hard tyres he wasn’t able to get ahead of Perez.

    3. The car is no gem but he did also have a KERS problem.

      See:Rain could play a role in round two of Hamilton versus Button

  4. Schumacher hit 312kph in the speed trap – 2kph faster than anyone else. Will have a closer look at all the data in the pre-race analysis later…

    1. Schumacher & Vettel seemed to be the only drivers who recorded their top speed in Q3. No idea what the top speeds were for everyone else in that session as opposed to Q2 – the pure difference ignoring that was negligible for most cars, with the exception being the steam powered Red Bulls spluttering in 12kph behind.

      1. Webber very quick in Sector 3 – how does this work?

        1. Possibly with a great run out of 14 would be my guess. A nice slingshot on to the back straight, and then a really well hooked up turn 15. Can gain a lot of time there.

        2. Webber could, and probably is running a different set up than Vettel.

  5. Impressive lap by Vettel, wondering what the advantage would be thought, reminds me of the 2010 Canadian GP when both Red Bulls qualified primes but the strategy didn’t work with the high degradation that we saw in that race, start and opening laps will be crucial for him considering he will have less grip that everyone around him.

    1. Agreed he could be swamped at the start.

  6. interesting and promising strategy from Vettel’s team, but an early gap from the Macs and a rain before the first pit stop will ruin his plans.

  7. The fact that there’s only 0.445s difference between the top 8 drivers from the top 4 cars – Mclaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, and Lotus – Truly shows how competive this season is.

    1. Don’t remind me of Trulli. haha

      1. same here. lol

      2. Haha nice one :)

    2. Good point! Hoping race will be as competitive and close as qualifying is.

    3. That’s was great to see, glad that blown floor stuff is gone for now.

  8. I’m really disappointed – I set qualifying up to tape, and it didn’t work!

    1. Damn, you actually missed the best part, press conference; it was actually quite emotional to see Schumi there.

      1. @kingshark – Australia doesn’t get the press conference. No, instead we get three people sitting around offering expert opinions on something they clearly do not understand. I have no idea what hexavalent chromium is, so I don’t go around talking about the health effects of it. However, Channel Ten insist on giving airtime to three commentators who obviously know nothing about Formula 1.

        1. @Prisoner Monkeys… maybe you can show the commentators a thing or two? ;-)

          1. I think an actual imprisoned monkey could show the channel 10 panel a thing or two.

        2. Count yourself lucky…surely anything is better than crofty’s unprofessional approach to interviewing…I frankly don’t wanna hear his negative spin ON A POLE POSITION…for talented drivers who are the real show, it much be particularly galling…

        3. @prisoner-monkeys, One HD showed the press conference.

        4. It was on OneHD, you must be out of the area. Driver interviews are dull anyway, they’re so media-coached that they manage to say nothing but PR.

          1. Sean (@spaceman1861)
            24th March 2012, 11:18

            Sometimes they can be quite funny, i like watch mark in the interviews.

        5. @Prisoner Monkeys I got the press conference here in Queensland (this race anyway) maybe its a bit different on ONE HD depending on what state you are in? I know sometimes they get a bit carried away with the AFL & cut out full coverage of other events in certain states, but it seems to constantly change. Very frustrating sometimes.

      2. I missed that :c

    2. Look for a Spanish IP and try antena3.com to watch Qualifying and Press Conference

    3. I’m really disappointed – I set qualifying up to tape, and it didn’t work!

      Tape? Maybe you need to join the digital age? :)

  9. I am totally syked to see Schumi back in the top 3. I hope he gets a god start tomorrow and that his race pace is better, The Merc seems fast over a single lap but it is not overly kind to its tires. Best of luck to the old guy on Sunday. It would be awesome to see him on the podium again. I hope al the naysayers are fixing their crow sandwiches for breakfast. :)

    1. That was nice to see. I was never really a fan when the guy was dominating but I think it’s a great story given how old he is :)

    2. Does Michael Have a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change? Or was Steve Slater confusing Kimi with Michael?

      1. I’ve just had Mercedes’ press release through and there’s no mention of a gearbox change for either driver.

      2. No, he already served during the race (retirement). That was his penalty.

      3. Never trust what Steve Slater says. He keeps on goofing up every single race weekend.

        1. LOL. Couldn’t agree anymore. I cannot believe the number of races Kimi was spotted at during 2010 :P

        2. So true!
          It is surprising that no one bothered to fix his goof up during qualifying.

          1. No in fact just minutes later he himself admitted to the goof up and clarified but it gets on one’s nerves. I mean he is someone who can call a Black Lotus a White HRT!

    3. I hope he gets a god start tomorrow

      :D God start? I’m inclined to agree.

  10. WEB and MSC have slower starts, I’m afraid VET wil be 3rd after turn 2.

    1. Im pretty sure that Michael will have a good start :)

      1. Schumacher has slow starts? Since when? Not since his comeback.

    2. Schumacher is the driver who overtakes most in lap 1 last year usually at start. He’s not slow in start at all.

    3. as said above vettel starts on the harder compound so he will have less grip. its a very interesting strategy though

    4. kimi’s penalty & Webber in front & Grosjean behind it seems to go in the way that Vettel wants
      but last race in Australia he said that he was going to be second even without the safety car (which i strongly doubt) i hope this time that the SC doesn’t help him

    5. Vet wont get a better start on the harder tires.

  11. Hamilton must work on his start and set up his clutch not to spin like last time in Melbourne.i hope Kimi gets into top three podiums as well.
    but i think maclaren will again mess up Hamilton’s race by using poor race tactics.
    there is a high chance vettel will crush out.

    1. People really have to say McLaren messes up hamilton’s race. Jenson chose a better front wing setting last week and also did a better job switching on his tires as Lewis himself admitted.

      1. @f1asif is there a “stop” missing somewhere in your first sentence?

        1. lol yeah thanks!

          It should read as follows
          People really have to stop saying McLaren messes up hamilton’s race. Jenson chose a better front wing setting last week and also did a better job switching on his tires as Lewis himself admitted.

    2. but i think maclaren will again mess up Hamilton’s race by using poor race tactics.

      First, it’s Mclaren.

      Second, Explain to me how they messed up Hamilton’s stratagy?

      If you are refering to the safety car coming out just after Hamilton, then explain how they could have known this before it had happened.

      If the safety car didn’t come out, pitting Hamilton right behind Button would have given Hamilton the early stop, and thus presumably kept him comfortably ahead of Vettel after the stops.

      1. “and thus presumably kept him comfortably ahead of Vettel after the stops.”

        I don’t know if that would have been the case. Vettel was within 1 second of Hamilton when Hamilton pitted. In the first sector alone (no SC yet, no yellow flags slowing down Button and Hamilton down) Vettel ran away from Button with 1.5 seconds. Hamilton didn’t really close in much on Button so I believe Vettel could have jumped Hamilton regardless of the SC situation. The Red Bull team did have a bit of a scrappy pitstop though (5.2 seconds if I recall correctly) so that could have saved Hamilton. But who knows, maybe that pitstop was a result of some SC tension.
        Anyway, I think it would have been really close.

  12. MSC has slow starts? He was on the best starters last year.

    1. Mostly because he often started quite far back.

  13. did the mercs run only a single flying lap ?
    if so its truly impressive …
    The race pace is still in doubt but its good to see them progress after 2 years of waiting.
    Go Michael …
    Its a shame that kimi’s got that penalty. The guy is amazing, after 2 years , he;s not no speed and is mixing it up with everyone up in the front.

    An Vettel – Always the man , lets hope he puts on a good show tomorrow n able to make up places like last time.

    1. Its a shame that kimi’s got that penalty. The guy is amazing, after 2 years , he;s lost not no speed and is mixing it up with everyone up in the front.

      1. I just get the feeling that Kimi’s bad luck (Australia: change of steering column, eliminated in Q1; Malaysia: change of gearbox, five place grid penalty) will coincide with the part of the year when Lotus have the best chance of fighting at the front. As I understand it they have a relatively simple car which is easy to understand and drive, which is why they are going well at this early part of the year. Later on this year they could fall behind a little as they don’t have the development capacities of the bigger teams.

    2. Don’t forget Kovalainens effort: only 0.3 seconds off Vergne.
      Great showing by the Caterhams there

      1. Vergne was on hards, Kovalainen was on softs.

    3. Kimmi skill retention is unreal. He really just switched it back on and is as though he had no break away from driving F1.

  14. I don’t think Mercedes’ race pace will be as good as qualy again. Their tricky f-duct, drs activated mechanism gives them an advantage in qualy because they can use it anywhere, anytime. In the race they can’t.

    1. Yes, rather hoping michael becomes a rolling speed bump tomorrow.

      1. lol, I can see it coming :)

      2. Yeah. The thing is if he is so slow then they should be able to pass him easier. It’s funny when they try to complain about it.

        1. Not if he’s slow on the corners but fast on the straights!

  15. Now it makes sense… something out Vettel vs Webber last year I could not grasp. Why the gap was so massive? And here we are. If they have a similar setting in the car Vettel cannot be the mighty driver we saw last year. I don’t dislike the guy but is he that good against Webber? Now, lets just hope LH does not have problems in the first lap and with Schumi (who normally gets a good start) so close, who knows. I still thing it will be LH, MS, JB, SB and FA…

    1. Let’s hope?you hope. There are people who want other drivers to win.

      1. Of course. Good luck!

    2. If they have a similar setting in the car Vettel cannot be the mighty driver we saw last year.

      Are you saying they weren’t given the same car last season?

      Also I’d like to point out that Vettel set his qualifying lap on the harder compound tyre and was only 2 tenths off Webber’s pace.

      1. And the BBC said there was about 2 tenths in the two compounds, so there you go.

        But I think the tyre compound changes this year have benefited Webber, which I think he would back. Outqualifying Vettel 2-from-2 regardless of technical differences.

        1. I’d say the reduction of EEBD was of greater benefit, remember back 2 years ago with no EBD & it was MUCH closer between Vettel & Webber than all of last year, save Silverstone where the exhaust blowing was banned for the one race & surprise surprise Webber out qualified Vettel there….

          1. I agree, the change in the exhaust blown diffuser rules has brought them closer together. Side by side comparisons last year showed the major difference was through the corners where this had the largest effect, and it seemed that Vettel was much better than Webber at exploiting it.

            The differences in qualifying times and race pace in Melbourne this year is very similar to 2010, where the exhaust effects were not as large. And in the only race last year where they were banned (Britain), Webber qualified faster than Vettel and while in typical Webber fashion was beaten off the line, he matched Vettel’s race pace unlike most of the 2011 season.

          2. I think you guys are on to something. But it’s like I’ve always said, different cars will suit different drivers. It’s seems that this years regs aren’t on Vettel’s side.

          3. it’s only been 1 race and 2 qualifying sessions so I don’t understand why conclusions are already being drawn.

            Let’s not forget, Vettel wasn’t happy with the car in Melbourne either and he himself said there’s not much they changed in between the two GP’s. Last year Webber beat Vettel at the Nurburgring too. Why? Because Vettel wasn’t happy with the car.

            Now, the car is more to Webber’s liking than it is to Vettel’s and the result is they both show the same pace. That says enough doesn’t it. Once Vettel get’s comfortable Webber will be looking as grumpy and confused as Vettel is now.

          4. @f1fanNl I’m not drawing conclusions on ONLY 2 races, read the post I’m talking about an average over 2 entire seasons + these 2 races. I’d think averaging out performances over nearly 40 grands prix is a bit more accurate than “getting ahead of ourselves”

      2. What I find strange is the fact that in 2009/2010 season they were fighting and it was great to see and last year the way Vettel managed to destroy Webber got a bit weird to me. OK, it makes sense when people say Vettel enjoyed the “technology help” clearly better. Great times for Vettel but not great skills then. Is it fair to say Webber has better raw skills? Well, it’s only been 1 race and 2 qualifying sessions but I am curious to see how this will unfold.

        1. Guys, I wish you would get your facts straight before commenting.. just went through qualis of last 3 years. Vettel has outqualified Webber 15-2,12-7 and 16-3 in 2009,2010 and 2011 respectively. Doesn’t look close to me…

  16. The prettiest cars on front row again!

    Lewis must have had a fair bit more in hand as most drivers were able to improve on their first Q3 run. I really hope for Lewis’ sake that he can finish ahead of his teammate as he seems to be lacking in confidence.

    Also love how close the quail times are for top 10. Nice to see Michael doing OK and giving a lesson to Nico.

    1. lacking in confidence?he didnt look like he was lacking in confidence to me.

      1. Not from his quali performance but did you hear him in the interview? he is already hedging about pole not being an advantage and about the need to preserve his tires etc. He seems to still be reliving last week’s race and wondering if there will be a repeat. The narrative now is that Lewis has an edge in quali and that Jenson has the edge on Sundays when it matters. He desperately wants to end that narrative

        1. I agree. He does look nervous and his comments suggest he is not entirely confident in that position.

          1. no he just has learnt from last week that unless you get off to get good start pole means nothing,especially in malaysia with the long straight at the start.

  17. He made it at the expensive of Jean-Eric Vergne, who locked up his tyres on the start of his final lap and failed to make the cut.

    Smally typo there Keith. I suspect one of those “complete the word” writing aids.

    1. Whereas there’s no explanation for “smally”.

      1. hehe ;-)

  18. for Q2 do you mean Rosberg and several other drivers who had to back off for the yellow flags needed to run again?

    hence Rosberg being limted to one lapp in q3

    1. and Schumacher & quite a few others..

  19. Great lap from Ham and even more awesome by MSC. This is going to be one hell of a race, but hope to see some variation in P1/2 as well than having a McLaren lockup in every event, something which almost everyone complained about last year with the Red Bulls. not that i don’t want Button to win.
    ROS is P8 but i am pretty sure he would be P4/5 at the end of Turn 1 :D
    WEB looks strong.
    VET’s P6 lap is great too. It could play in his favor if its a dry race tomorrow.
    ALO must be disappointed with that P9 and Ferrari really need to improve that car.
    MAS needs a new team and Ferrari need a driver that’s more ‘prepared’ .
    Kimi is doing great. So is GRO.
    MAL again in the dirt. It seems Williams have a great car this season. Or atleast a better car. All they need is a driver to make use of the equipment.

    1. This sort of lock-out is fine – there’s nothing inevitable about it and the margins are slim.

      Last year was very different.

      1. And even if it were, if it is only for a few races and then the race is still undecided, we can live with it – it’s perhaps different if they manage this the whole season.

    2. Good comment mixwell, but which team needs Massa? I think the tyre wear will be decisive for the race result, i.e. drivers like Button and Vettel will end higher, and drivers like Webber and Hamilton lower. VET might profit from starting on the hard tyres. The Mercedes drivers are likely to get in trouble because of tyrewear, so even if I hope to see Schu on the podium again its probably not going to happen this race. I’m sure Kimi and Alonso will advance. I expect both Rosberg and Grosjean to do worse than their teammates in the race. Maldonado will be interesting to follow, very aggressive young driver, I fully understand why he was pushing to the limit in Melbourne – if Williams felt the points was more important than the glory of an overtake of Alonso on the last laps, they should have asked Maldonado to save fuel.
      But if we get torrential rain, almost everything can happen.

  20. I’ll like to see merc do well but pretty sure they’ll start dropping off like in Aust. Can’t really see them finishing the race higher than 7th unless the weather mixes things up.

  21. I think the era of red bull dominance is over…and the Mercedes team will be the one to watch after the maclarens.
    red bull need to be kept away from the podiums next few races i hope it works.

  22. Schumi being a good starter might trouble Button a little bit and give Hamilton a bit of a breathing space at the start. I really hope Lewis wins. He needs it badly!

  23. Can’t wait for the start, expect Schumi to jump to McLarens before conducting a Trulli train, whilst frustrating Button and Hamilton.

  24. Is Pole on the inside for the first corner?

    1. Yes, apparently it’s been like that since last year, kind of like Belgium.

      1. Good, having the outside line was half Lewis’ problem last week. Of course its less of an issue here with turn 2 following on so quickly, but every little helps.

        1. having the grippier side was a problem for Hamilton last week????

          ummmm ok

    2. It’s on the right as shown here:

      2012 Malaysian Grand Prix grid

      1. @keithcollantine One thing I noticed is that on almost every single lap Lewis did this weekend, he stuck right on the straight, going over the pole position slot. Coincidence or extreme confidence?

  25. Wasn’t expecting another Macca 1-2 again, as a fan i’m full of delight to lock out the front row again but quite serious because the points are won on race day & i believe RB are still a force to be reckon with for certain. If Mercedes’ high tyre degradation doesn’t seem to appear tomorrow then i can see them having a strong crack of getting onto the podium with Schumi, possibly even a win.

    The biggest threat to Macca however is Vettel, starting on the slower harder compound in P5 just 4 tenths off Hamilton’s pole time, had he bolted on a set of Mediums (worth 0.5secs) then it would be arguable to say he would’ve had pole by the slight margin from Lewis but i’m pretty convinced from his lock-up at T14, Lewis had a little more in his pocket. Very interested & intrigued to see how tomorrow pans out, should be another great race.

    1. Yes, I think Vettel has concluded that starting position isn’t everything, especially after he actually finished the race distance faster than BUT in Melbourne – if You deduct the time they used in pitlane, then VET was faster – but of course this was induced by the safetycar. So VET probably needs a safetycar or some other confusion again to get to the top.

    2. Interestingly in an interview afterwards Vettel exclaimed he was more comfortable on the hards for quali….and it wasn’t a strategic decision, more so because he felt better with the hards…

      1. kinda reminds of Button in Brazil last year where he felt he was faster with the harder compound…. strange, but you know… what ever is working for them..

  26. 4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.461
    5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’36.461

    Don’t think anyone noticed that, Interesting

    1. Car Number because RBR won Championship last year.

    2. yea mark would have set the time before kimi, thus ahead although the times are identical.

    3. KEITH did… in this very article.
      “Webber and Raikkonen set times that were identical to one-thousandths of a second”
      Hello :)

  27. All six world champions in the top ten

    1. They ain’t world champions for nothing!

  28. The race is likely to start under a thunderstorm tomorrow, so I will be surprised if they even manage to race for 1 lap.

    1. in that case the FIA will start under safety to help red bulls..because banieclostene wants vettle to win his third title.

      1. +1, finger boy slow starting tyre will no longer be a disadvantage.

      2. @spiderman If it is a wet race it will always start under a safety car.
        @kyle again if it is a wet start, they will not longer use the dry weather tires they used in qualifying.

        1. Really…? If it is a wet race, it MUST start under a safety car?

  29. tete
    lol qually set up ha that’s hillarious tete ham always beats j.b in qually and vettel on hard tyres good luck getting off line hell be swamped by grippier tyres ham probly will pit first but vettel going longer how will that help vettel has to use that tyre later on ham will start medium then hard,hard,hard

    1. Punctuation would help you immensely

  30. Anybody noticed how much Verge’s car was vibrating when he flat spotted his tyres. It was as when Kimi lost his wheel in 2005 Nurgburgring.

    1. Yes,that was quite dramatic wasn’t it? The vibration was so intense that i thought for a moment he had damaged the wheel somehow – then we saw the lock up on replay.

  31. 5 out of top-6 are former champions!
    Isn’t this awesome? And there are 6 champions in the top-10.
    That’s just fantastic.

  32. is it possible red bull are sandbagging now only to turn on the heat later ?

    1. Sean (@spaceman1861)
      24th March 2012, 11:24

      Not sure why they would?

    2. Why would they sandbag during the actual season, when it is going to cost them points and positions, I understand it in pre-season but once things kicked off in Quali at Melbourne then that all stopped and everyone started showing their true pace.

    3. No way.

    4. And what could they possibly gain from doing so?
      In case they were, they would have no guarantee that they wouldn’t be overtaken in the development race, thus being unable to “turn on the heat” later in the season. McLaren won’t slow their development down, nor will any of the other teams just because Red Bull don’t look that strong.
      If Red Bull had the car to win both races and claim pole position, they would have done so. Anything else would be completely stupid.

  33. kenneth Ntulume
    24th March 2012, 11:49

    Within another race or two Button is going to bag his very first McLaren Podium…..
    I am seeing an incremental but steady Quali times improvement relative to Ham.

    1. Surely you mean pole position, as Button has had more podiums in the last 2 years than Hamilton :P

    2. Thats a very confusing post, although I do believe I get what you might have been trying to say….. his first McLaren Pole Position??? :-)

    3. I dont think Button is getting closer to Hamilton.

      The gap is typically around 3 tenths, today Ham made a couple of mistakes on his timed lap that would have cost him a couple of tenths. In aus his timed lap was also his first lap, his second run was aborted after a mistake in sector 1.

      I dont think a driver can suddenly pick up a couple of tenths after 2 decades of racing, he drives the way he drives, its just instinctual when you’re driving on what you percieve to be the limit. Button will see the data, where Hamilton is making time on him, but the differences are so fine (less than the blink of an eye over a 2-3 mile circuit) that i dont think its something he can now adjust.

    4. This seems like it should be a fairly easy debate to settle.

      So far this year the average gap is 0.151s in Hamilton’s favour.

      Last year the average gap was 0.204s in Hamilton’s favour:

      Lewis Hamilton 2011 form guide

      In 2010 the average gap was 0.155s in Hamilton’s favour.

      Lewis Hamilton vs team mate, 2010

      So the figure is actually fairly static.

      Of course that’s only looking at a crude average. When it comes to the qualifying score, Hamilton is emphatically ahead, and has regularly out-qualified Button by around two to three tenths. Had he not locked up at the final corner on his best lap today, I expect that would have been the case here.

      You can keep an eye on the updated figure for Button over the year here:

      Jenson Button 2012 form guide

      And all the other drivers for this year and last here:

      2012 F1 driver form guides
      2011 F1 driver form guides

      Incidentally, it’s good that we’re in our third year without ‘race fuel qualifying’, which made comparisons like this so much harder.

    5. kenneth Ntulume
      24th March 2012, 15:06

      Meant “1st McLaren pole”, am so sorry, but the ever wise gentlemen that you are, you spotted it, tks

  34. With the fast starting Mercedes of Schumacher only just behind, the McLaren’s are going to have to get a very good start to keep their positions and maintain their advantage.

    I think we’ll probably see Vettel lose a couple of places on the start, mainly because of the tyre he is on, and that the Lotus team in the past have had decent starts, as was shown last year at Malaysia. Plus, with Webber’s starting performance, we might see both Red Bull’s down in the lower reaches of the points and having to pull their way back through.

    It would be fantastic to see Schumi on the podium again, but it would surprise me, because the Red Bull’s will be fast in race trim, so they’ll need a great strategy to pull that off.

  35. I think tosberg would make the ultimate test driver.

    1. That was a typo, but Tosberg feels about right.

  36. Great work again from the McLaren drivers’. Mercedes and Lotus appear to have good pace, shame Raikkonen got that penalty but I expect him to bounce back! Most people suggested during the week that Ferrari would not have enough time to improve the car for Sepang and they were right. Yet another poor showing for Felipe Massa, although I liked how Rob Smedley tried to keep Massa’s spirits up at the end over the intercom!
    Bruno Senna disappointed again, especially compared to Maldonado who, if not for a trip through the gravel, would have qualified better than he did for Williams.
    However, what impresses me the most about the new season is the Mercedes and Lotus teams’ performance, especially against the Red Bulls. I could not help but notice how frustrated Sebastien Vettel looked when he got out of the car today, having a good ‘nose’ at a parked McLaren in the process. Probably all too aware that McLaren are not Red Bull’s only threat this season, as Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen have proved this weekend.
    Loved Raikkonen’s onboard, not locking up at all at the final hairpin at the end of his hotlap. Something few other drivers did, which is not bad considering Kimi has not raced in F1 since 2009! He will be strong in the race as I think will be Schumacher. Can’t wait!

  37. Vettel could have easily taken 3rd, if not higher, had he been on the medium tyre. Add that to the fact he has a better tyre strategy now and red bull look quicker in the race and I think it may end up a similar result to that in Australia. It’ll be a good race this

    1. Fail, Vettel chose the harder tyre because he couldn’t get ANY pace out of the softer tyre, unlike Webber whom got a better balance on his car.

  38. my money on Hamilton beating Vettle’s record of most poles on a season

    1. If its that easy, others would have already beaten Nigel Mansell’s record. Why must it wait till 2011?

      1. Because 2011 was when one team, and one driver in particular had a car that was untouchable in qualifying, and it also had a large number of races on the calendar.

  39. If anything Hamilton seems to have increased the qualifying gap to Button, he must have lost at least a tenth with that final corner lock-up and yet still nobody can get very close. The big problem for him though is converting it into race pace, seeing him out of the car this season he doesn’t appear to have put the demons of last season to rest completely yet, but maybe a couple of early wins can cure that.

  40. To me, it was really painful to see Massa driving today. To be honest, I think he improved somehow and closed a bit the big gap to Alonso, compared to Australia. I do not believe for a moment that a team like Ferrari would go to the trouble to develop a new chassis and rebuild the car if they believe the problem is the driver. No way. But at least to me is very clear that Massa and his car are not talking the same language. Today his car was just everywhere, almost always outside of the best line, his car is unstable at the entrance of the turn, is unstable at the exit, and lacks final speed. It’s a mess.
    It seems to me that the constant change of rules is forcing the drivers to adapt their driving styles constantly and that is leaving Massa outside the ballpark. In the beginning of the season Alonso and him where introduced to the new car, but while Alonso managed to understand its behavior, Massa simply seems unable to develop the car.
    Now, a guy who spent 10 years in Formula 1 never forgets how to drive a car. And how to drive it fast. But the car from 2012 is a very different beast, and Massa seems to me unable to understand how to deal with his Ferrari. Particularly, I believe his performance went down the tube since Pirelli brought the new tires. Others adapter better, but not him. And that will cost him his career.
    Just my last $0,02…

  41. It is an irony and little bit of a sweet revenge for Kimi I guess. Alonso moved from Renault to Ferrari to replace him ahead of the contract. Now the same Renault is a much faster and better car than Ferrari. To top it all Kimi was having a good time last 2 years enjoying rallying and the payout package for his early termination of the Ferrari contract.On the Other end Ferrari is struggling since last 3 years. I guess what goes around comes around. I somehow feel as much as McLaren is Lewis’s home, Renault is Alonso’s home.

  42. No Button hasn’t closen the gap

    Lewis made the obvious mistake that would have put him even further ahead. Also in the last two races, he hasn’t even finished his 2nd timed run, compared to Button having two go’s at his time

  43. I think Kimi has had a lucky break on the timing for his return with the banning of the DRS. All the drivers in the top teams who benefited most from it last year, seem to struggle a little bit finding the limits of their cars without it. Vettel most emphatically, but Hamilton as well looked quite a bit scruffier than normal in practice.
    In the meantime, those who didn’t quite get on with it, look like they have made a step forward, like Schumacher and Webber.

    And then there’s Kimi who never had it in the first place and, according to Lotus, from the beginning was pretty much bang on the limit of the car again and in his own words thinks the car feels pretty much the same as what he was used to. Doesn’t hurt that those limits are pretty close to the front as well.

    I wonder, and of course that is an if, if Lotus manage to keep up development this season, will Kimi be labelled a “complete racing driver” and “amazing development driver”? It certainly looks like he is able to communicate to his engineers what he needs from the car, given his comments about the changes they made to the floor and the steering rack so far and the resulting difference in confidence and speed.

    1. Ral, you wrote “with the banning of the DRS” – I think you meant the banning of the blown diffuser, as the DRS is still used this year.

      1. Doh. Yes, that is what I meant. Thank you.

  44. There is a lot of Massa bashing going on and after last week, a lot of it is justified. But after this qualifying, it seems to me to be piling on a bit. Look at the times. Massa was behind Alonso 0.165 seconds. Compare that to Rosberg who was behind Schumacher by 0.273 seconds. Button is behind Hamilton 0.149. That is really comparable in my opinion.

    Alonso has always out qualified Massa. That time difference is not that great. The reason it looks so much worse is that this year the cars are very packed in time. So it is easy to be many places down compared to your teammate.

    The real bashing should be reserved for the Ferrari team this year, in my opinion. We’ll see how it goes in the race. But right now, “Massa looking pathetic in qualifying” as I’ve seen is a bit overblown.

    1. I agree 100% with this.

      1. in the same session the difference was actually 4 tenths, you are comparing Massa’s Q2 time to Alonso’s Q3. At the same time on the same track it was still 4 tenths not 2.

  45. I hope Schumacher jumps the Macs at the start. If he doesn’t I fear this race will not be exciting at all.

    1. I think shumi and one of the mclaren’s will make contact into the first corner. Hope it doesn’t happen.

    2. @f1fannl I expect that the rain will come and make things nice and exciting, especially if/when it dries.

      1. There’s always a chance of rain but I for one hope it doesn’t come. I agree it delivers an exciting race but I don’t like lotteries.
        It’s like Canada last year. It’s totally unfair for one driver to lose a hard earned advantage due to safety cars and red flags and to see another driver run opponents of the road, get penalties and still be in the hunt for the victory because all his penalties and mishaps were just brushed off by the race stopping incidents. That’s not what racing is about in my opinion.

    3. The start will be interesting for sure, does Lewis cover off Jenson or Michael. Great to see Schumacher back on form. Hopefully we will have the clearest picture yet about where everyone stands after the race. I must say Perez is climbing higher in my estimation at a rate of knots.

  46. One thing that has disappointed me in both qualifying sessions so far this year……. Nico Rosberg. He has had a car that has nearly-pole potential at both races and in both qualifying sessions so far he has snuffed his chance to put his car into a great position. Every time he has had a good chance to be in such a position so far he has cracked under the pressure (remember the mistake coming out of the pits at Singapore a few years ago where he had potential to get into a race winning position or at least a good podium?). He needs to sort this aspect of his driving out and deliver on the potential that we all know is there.

  47. He is been disappointing. I agree with another comment above about Rosberg being the ultimate test driver. He can’t deliver under pressure, but driving around in practice sessions (remember the williams days) rosberg would extract everything the car has to offer – not more and not less.

  48. What happened with Kobayashi? Any one any idea? I know Perez usually beats him but that’s just weird.

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