Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying

It’s raining just before the start of Qualifying … but that’s pretty normal for the Malaysian GP.

Qualifying 1:
A queue forms at the pit lane exit – if the rain gets heavier, they need to post a lap time as quickly as possible
KK is at the front of the queue and first onto the track
Onboard camera with KK shows how much spray there is even without a car in front of him … and then SB swoops past, which reduces visibility even further
VP has spun in Turn 2 but recovers
Looks like the rain is easing off
SB 1:48.945
5mins gone of Q1 = 15mins left
RK 1:47.520
SB off across the gravel at the final turn but escapes across the grass
PdlR 1:47.153
The “big names” are finally exiting the pits – just LdG still in the garage as his team work furiously on the car
VL lost the rear end of the Force India but caught it and only half spun
BS goes off and is beached in the gravel
The lap times are getting slower – did the top teams leave it too late?
RK 1:46.283
(JB P12)
(MS P13)
LH spins in the final turn
JB spins and slides backwards into a gravel trap – his qualifying is finished!
VP off at the same spot
Pit-car for JB tell him to keep the engines running
JB’s in a dangerous position – doesn’t that mean he can be pushed back onto the track and continue?
Full wet tyres going on MS’ Mercedes … and then NR’s
LH catches the McLaren as the tail breaks away under braking
5mins left of Q1 – bottom 7 are JT, FM, FA, KC, BS, LH & LdG
Even with the full wets, MS is struggling to keep his car pointing in the right direction
Pit-car radio for LH tells him he needs to improve his lap time by about 7secs in order to get through to Q2!
FA spins the Ferrari – he won’t improve enough to escape Q1
(LH P21)
Both LH & FA cross the line in time for one last flying lap
Chequered flags falls on Q1
(LH P19)
(FA P19)
So fastest was RK (1:46.283) but more importantly the back of the grid will be P18=JT, 19=FA, 20=LH, 21=FM, 22=KC, 23=BS, 24=LdG
JB is in the McLaren garage but his car is still at the corner where he went off, so he’ll be P17

Qualifying 2:
BBC report heavy rain expected in about 7mins
So cars are leaving the pit lane on intermediates but most are on full wets
VP is struggling to keep the Renault on the tarmac, even when he’s only on half throttle
VP 1:53.730
VL 1:52.7
SV 1:51.814
MS 1:50.611
(NH P2)
(RK P2)
TG spins and the traffic swarms around him
(VP P2)
(RB only 0.6s slower than MS but he goes P12)
Red Bull swap their guys from full wets to inters just as there’s a bolt of lightning in the background
VP 1:48.760 – 2secs faster than MS!
(RB P2)
MS 1:48.643
SV fastest in Sector 3 … on his out lap!
Times are dropping but there are big black clouds overhead
RB 1:48.371
5mins left of Q2
(AS P2)
NH 1:47.715
SV 1:47.003
RK 1:46.951
3mins left; bottom 7 are KK, DlR, TG, JA, HK, SB, JB
SV 1:46.828
(KK P6, pushing MW to P11)
Starting to rain heavily again
(MW P7; MS now P10)
Chequered flag for Q2
So the mid-grid places are: P11=VP, 12=PdlR, 13=SB, 14=JA, 15=HK, 16=TG, 17=JB

Qualifying 3:
The rain is getting heavier as the two Force India cars sit at the pit lane exit – those drivers are going to be soaked
RK rolls his Renault up alongside AS instead of joining the queue – it’s not illegal but I bet there’ll be words from the other drivers!
The spray from RK’s car completely obscures the cars behind him
Red flag – session stopped with 7:17 on the clock
Race control announce “indefinate delay” … I’m sure they mean indefinite!
After a delay, the race officials give the 5min warning of the restart
The two Force India cars wait at the pit exit again … and then AS pulls alongside teammate VL
They’ve got a long wait – there’s 2mins left before the lights will go green, which means their wet tyres will be stone cold
Pit-car for VL tells him they’re OK with AS sitting alongside (presumably to block RK) but VL will lead into Turn 1
The lights turn green and Q3 continues with 7:17 on the clock, so time for 2 or 3 fast laps
Some cars are on extreme wets while others are on inters
Red Bull have put SV on full wets and MW on intermediates
VL 1:52.501
AS 1:51.238
(NH P2)
(RK P2)
(SV P6)
2mins left; order is AS, RK, NH, RB, MS, SV, VL, KK, MW, NR
AS 1:50.914
(NH P2)
(RK P3)
MW 1:50.451
(NR P2)
(SV P3)
Chequered flag but everyone’s on a final flying lap
(MS P8)
MW 1:49.327
(NR P2)
Pit-car tells MW he’s 2sec clear at the front of the grid

The provisional grid: P1=MW, 2=NR, 3=SV, 4=AS, 5=NH, 6=RK, 7=RB, 8=MS, 9=KK, 10=VL, 11=VP, 12=PdlR, 13=SB, 14=JA, 15=HK, 16=TG, 17=JB, 18=JT, 19=FA, 20=LH, 21=FM, 22=KC, 23=BS, 24=LdG.