2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel Claims Second Pole Of 2013

After Sebastian Vettel Claimed Pole Position In Australia From The Rain, predictions were that we would have a ‘New Pecking Order In Malaysia’ (Yes, click on those links!). I think qualifying this season is going to have two or three focus points.

First, the top mid or top team drivers who would face elimination in Q1. Second, tyre strategy and usage by the mid and top teams to avoid the Q1 elimination. Third, tyre usage in Q3, which could also mean non-participation.

Here’s how the 22 drivers fared in the 2013 Malaysian GP Qualifying:

Top 10:

  1. Sebastian Vettel – on pole again! 38th pole, second pole of 2013. Will he have the race pace though?
  2. Felipe Massa – ahead of Alonso for the 4th race in a row! Front row start since a long long time!
  3. Fernando Alonso – will finish ahead of Massa tomorrow! (Sigh!)
  4. Lewis Hamilton – should’ve been higher given the conditions.
  5. Mark Webber – 2.5 secs off Vettel!
  6. Nico Rosberg – should be disappointed with P6.
  7. Kimi Raikkonen – would’ve expected him to be higher, again given the conditions. But he won the 2013 Australian Grand Prix from here!
  8. Jenson Button – rain aided result I would assume
  9. Adrian Sutil – impressive! Only three tenths behind Button.
  10. Sergio Perez – 5 seconds off Vettel, 1 second off Button!

A rain affected session meant that drivers had a choice of intermediate or wet weather tyres to use and all drivers preferred the inters. The bigger advantage for the top 10 was that they would have an open choice of dry tyre to use at the start of the race. Putting the immediate followers (P11 and P12) at a disadvantage!

Adrian Sutil was the only mid-field driver to have broken into Q3. Given his one season absence from the sport, it did look as though he was taking some time to get used to the mixed track conditions. He loves the rain in any case, but had it been dry, he would’ve probably qualified higher up the grid.

Mclaren prayed for rain before the session and their prayers were answered as the weather conditions helped their drivers qualify higher than what their car was capable.

Adrian Sutil – 2013 Malaysian GP (courtesy: Sahara Force India)

Q2 Eliminations:

  1. Romain Grosjean – missed Q3 by 3 tenths. Laptime was a second off Raikkonen’s.
  2. Nico Hulkenberg
  3. Daniel Ricciardo
  4. Esteban Gutierrez
  5. Paul Di Resta – Unfortunate to have rain spoil his attempts. Should’ve been in top 10.
  6. Pastor Maldonado – didn’t even set a laptime!

Essentially the session where we see mid field teams try to punch above their weight and qualify for Q3. This session saw slight drops of rain which would’ve seen the late runners (Paul Di Resta, Grosjean) at a little disadvantage. The session once again confirmed that Sahara Force India had the pace to fight the top teams in Formula1. Ferrari, Mclaren and even Red Bull Racing struggled to match the pace Sutil set in this session. The Mercedes drivers claimed P1 and P2 (Rosberg ahead of Hamilton)

Q1 Eliminations:

  1. Jean Eric Vergne – not surprised!
  2. Valtteri Bottas – Williams vs Toro Rosso vs Marussia it seems it will be for P17 & P18.
  3. Jules Bianchi – only 2 tenths off the WilliamsF1! And half a second off Q2! Best rookie!
  4. Charles Pic
  5. Max Chilton – 1.2 secs off Bianchi. Not what the team would expect.
  6. Giedo Van Der Garde – Going to be Pic vs Chilton vs Garde for P22 all of 2013 Formula1 Season

Interesting tyre strategy in this session too! While Ferrari’s preferred the hard compounds, Red Bull Racing, Lotus, Mercedes, Sahara Force India, etc. chose the medium compounds. A hint that different teams could have different tyre strategies on Race Day!

And wonder what were Red Bull Racing thinking! Both drivers struggled on their timed laps to get into the top 10. The best part of this session was Adrian Sutil claiming P1! (Woohoo!) And P1 to P16 were separated by a little over a second.

Not checked weather reports for Race Day tomorrow, but rain or no rain, Sepang will excite! Stay tuned as I head off for some afternoon sailing!

And hear the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Podcast! For those missing Narain Karthikeyan on the grid, read his 2013 plans here: ‘Narain Karthikeyan Switches From Formula1 To AutoGP In 2013‘.

Kunal Shah is an FIA-accredited Formula 1 journalist who has been reporting on Formula 1 for nearly two decades. He worked with the Force India Formula 1 Team for 6 seasons in Marketing, Sponsorship and Commercial roles. As a former single-seater racer, he was responsible for Force India's grassroots talent program, One from a Billion Hunt. Presently, he co-writes a regular Formula 1 column for Firstpost, speaks on Inside Line F1 Podcast & Pits to Podium and produces broadcast/OTT content for NENT Group (Viasport & Viaplay).

7 comments On 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying: Sebastian Vettel Claims Second Pole Of 2013

  • Vettel won. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
    To me these where the highlights:
    1)Alonso’s super early retirement.
    2)Sutil’s horrendous pit stop. It took forever. But could be a valid problem, I dunno.
    2 retirement for Force India. Worst day ever!
    3)Hamilton getting into MClaren Pit stop – LOL, cannot believe! Every race year, at least one driver does this goof up.
    4)Hamilton’s nice pit stop strategy, a very early 3rd stop, I almost believed he will take Vettel down.
    4)Felt very bad for Rosberg!
    5)Happy for Webber.

  • You see, I like Vettel 🙂

  • Kunal, It is not a cake walk for Vettel in this race, he fought head on & won the race. I’m not saying he won fair & square. In your recent post you yourself stated the following “it is not a charity game”.
    So my point is: Webber is not the one who follows every rule/instruction placed by Red Bull. After all he is no Massa! He has respected few & he took his own decisions on rare occasions & had failed. So basically he(according to me) is not a complete risk taker like say a Vettel or a Hamilton.
    I may be wrong, but this is what I feel.

  • I dunno, Webber is complacent!
    See if you compare Webber & Vettel:
    In any race where Vettel is leading, he would maintain a very good distance between the one who is trying to clinch his position, he is never satisfied with his drive even though he is leading & always tries to better his position & often times he sets FL in the last lap, we all have seen & admired(ok,only me 🙂 ). That is what is missing in Webber.

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