Top 10 Talking Points: 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying
1. For the second consecutive week in a row, McLaren Mercedes have taken the front row of the grid as Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button set the top two fastest times in qualifying on Saturday at Sepang. Lewis Hamilton claimed the second consecutive pole of the season after a blistering lap of 1:36.219 seconds. However, Hamilton will have to be wary of his teammate Jenson Button – who qualified second, during the race. Hamilton would certainly not want to lose his place at the start of the race and hence, we can expect him to defend harder this time around.
2. Jenson Button has already started to talk about stealing the lead from Lewis Hamilton in the first turn of the race like he did at Australia. In Sepang, it is long way to go from the start to the first corner. So, will it be two out of two for Jenson Button over Lewis Hamilton?
“Qualifying has been pretty good to me in the last two races so I can’t complain too much. It’s good for us as a team to be on the front row again. It’s nice to hear all your mechanics cheering in the background. I wanted it the other way round, but Lewis did a great job. It’s going to be a fun Turn 1.”
- Jenson Button on his qualifying performance
3. Michael Schumacher achieved his best qualifying since coming back to Formula One in 2010. He will occupy the third position on the grid. He also out-qualified his teammate Nico Rosberg who will start the race from 7th on the grid. His chances of finishing on the podium seem to be very high if and only if he manages to have an incident free race. Mark Webber too out-qualified his teammate Sebastian Vettel by posting the fourth fastest time. He will start alongside the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher. Unlike his teammate, Webber used the softer compound in Q3.
4. Sebastian Vettel surprised one and all by entering Q3 in the harder set of tyres. It did take a toll on his timing as he ended up being the sixth fastest behind Kimi Raikkonen. He will start Fifth on Sunday as Raikkonen has to a serve a 5-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox. This strategic decision to use the harder tyres for qualifying is a huge gamble and it will be interesting to see if their gamble pays off during the race. Vettel will be the only driver in the top 10 to start the race on harder tyres on Sunday.
5. ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen was impressive in his Lotus during qualifying as he managed the fifth fastest time, ahead of Vettel and Alonso. It is a pity that he has a 5-place grid penalty to serve and hence would start from 10th position on Sunday. His teammate Romain Grosjean also managed to qualify within the top 10. Grosjean would start 6th on the grid.
6. The Ferrari‘s disappointed for the second consecutive week as Alonso managed to qualify in 8th position and Massa failed to enter Q3 and would start in 12th position. This clearly shows the F2012 lacks speed as Ferrari were out-qualified by McLaren, Red Bull. Renault and Mercedes. With this kind of car, Ferrari are going to find it really difficult to defend their third spot in the constructor’s championship.
7. Sergio Perez is doing wonders with his Sauber as he entered Q3 for the second consecutive week. He also out-qualified his team-mate Kamui Kobayashi who could manage only 17th. He will start Sunday’s race in the fifth row alongside Kimi Raikkonen.
8. Force India are finding it increasingly difficult to break into the top 10 in qualifying. Di Resta qualified 14th and Hulkenberg could manage only 16th position on a day in which Sauber and Williams performed much better. These three midfield teams are likely to be involved in a bitter battle for points on Sunday.
9. Toro Rosso’s Jean Eric Vergne was the major causality in Q1. The Toro Rosso’s had shown immense pace during the practice sessions but disappointed in qualifying. Daniel Riccardo did marginally better than Vergne by qualifying 15th. The usual backmarkers – Caterham, Marussia and HRT, also did not make it to Q2.
10. It was a huge sigh of relief for Narain Karthikeyan and his Hispania teammate Pedro De La Rosa at the end of Q1 as they clocked within the 107% rule and will make their first start of the season in the race on Sunday. De La Rosa will start 22nd while Karthikeyan will be 23rd on the grid as Heikki Kovalainen will start last after serving a 5 place grid penalty.