Tweet from @MyCaterhamF1: 15 minutes from qualifying at the 2012 Malaysian GP and the temperatures are rising. It's now 47 on track, with an air temp of 31.
Lewis Hamilton led both practice sessions yesterday, whilst it was Nico Rosberg on top this morning for final practice.
Kimi Räikkönen will get a five place grid penalty from wherever he manages to qualify, after the team had to change his gearbox on Saturday.
Tweet from @radarguruf1: #F1 radar update 15:52 MYT: Bright and sunny over #Sepang. Showers developing over Peninsula. Rain likely AFTER the session now. Temp 31c
Some more great live text is available here: http://live.autosport.com/commentary.php/id/455 whilst the BBC have theirs here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/17486303 (not a fan of all that yellow, though)
Hello to those following @factbytefactbox on Twitter! We have fixed it and should now be updating there too!
Just a few minutes to go now, make your final predictions! The FBFB has to stay impartial of course... Hamilton for pole, I reckon.
If you want any information about the race weekend, do check out the information thread: https://sidepodcast.com/post/malaysia-2012-race-information There are maps, schedules, weather data and tyre info too.
Pole position last year was Sebastian Vettel (no kidding!) with a 1:34.870.
Team radio to Petrov: "If the weather was fine all the way through we could wait almost twen minutes. But there is weather we are monitoring where it is going, so it might happen we do the first run earlier and we will see."
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Charles Pic, Paul di Resta and Timo Glock all make an early start to their session, heading straight out on track.
Di Resta passed Glock coming out of the pit lane, which says something for the relative pace of the Force India and Marussia!
Now plenty of the pack are piling out of the pit lane to press for position. And without alliteration, all but five cars are on track.
Both HRT cars are still in the garage. The team uttered their confidence that they would qualify for the race this weekend, but they're not so sure they'll get to the end of it!
In fact it is only the HRT drivers in the pits, as the times start to pour in. Räikkönen on top for now with a 1:37.961.
Button and Hamilton both jump Kimi, but it is Rosberg who takes P1 for now - 1:37.696. Mercedes are showing their pace again this weekend. Are they perhaps heading for pole?
Don't forget that Heikki Kovalainen has a five place grid penalty to take this weekend, after overtaking under the safety car in Melbourne.
For those who have completed laps, the drop zone features both Toro Rosso drivers, Petrov, Massa, Kovalainen, Glock and Pic.
Massa is supposed to be happy with his new chassis - reverting to the one he used in testing, rather than in Australia. 18th would not suggest happy.
You can barely see him, but Pastor being strapped into the car. The Williams driver is currently 8th. Via @WilliamsF1Team.
Schumacher jumps up to P1, making it MSC, BUT, ROS, HAM. Mercedes v McLaren all the way!
The HRT drivers have left the garage, with Karthikeyan setting his first lap time - 1:43.825. That is within the 107%, but is also last.
Lewis Hamilton runs a little wide as he attempts another flying lap, he crosses the line to remain fourth.
De la Rosa's first lap time was a 1:42.914, so better than his teammate, better than 107%, not bad at all. Relatively speaking.
The drop zone, then: Massa, Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock, Pic, De la Rosa, Karthikeyan.
Team radio from Button: "Lap three I've already started losing a rear. Struggling a little bit especially at turn four. That's the only issue with the rear end, which is quite strange."
Tweet from @adamcooperf1: #F1 This is one of those races when it will be OK to qualify 11th and have the choice of using the hard tyre at the start
Less than five minutes to go in this session, Mercedes are still leading, Massa is still in the drop zone.
Felipe is crossing the line for another flying lap, he needs to push hard this time to move up. For reference, Alonso is 8th.
He's approaching the start/finish line, and he improves to 12th! Well done Massa!
That has pushed Vergne into the drop zone, and he is on a lap to try and move out. Ricciardo is also close by, as is Pérez, which is something of a surprise.
Two minutes to go.
Tweet from @MyCaterhamF1: Heikki's reporting good improvement in balance on the set he used for run 1, particularly in the high speed corners
Vergne slows and abandons his lap - on board footage shows that he locked up at a corner and flat-spotted his tyres, causing some serious vibrations.
The top runners have come into the pit lane now, happy with their work. Kobayashi is the last driver down the order to pit, currently in 14th.
Qualifying session 1 ends.
Vergne pits, leaving behind the opportunity to improve, so he will go out in Q1. Meanwhile, Mark Webber popped up to P1 with a 1:37.172.
Both HRT drivers did get inside the 107% cutoff, but Karthikeyan only just. His time was 1:43.825 compared to the cutoff of 1:43.974.
|18||J Vergne||Toro Rosso|
|23||P de la Rosa||HRT|
Kovalainen's penalty will put him last on the grid, so HRT are not only into the race, but they are not the final two!
Fastest three for that session: Webber 1:37.172, Schumacher 1:37.517 and Button 1:37.575.
Interview with Pedro de la Rosa: "We made huge steps forward since Australia. We've run with DRS for the first time, I managed to do one lap in qualifying. There's more to come. We shouldn't be too unhappy about it because no one thought we could qualify here with a much improved car. Next step we hope to be challenging Marussia."
Qualifying session 2 begins.
No one makes the immediate jump as the seconds start to tick away.
Interview with Vergne: "Of course, bit disappointed. I've done a big mistake in the first corner, locked massively the front wheel, then I had so much vibrations I had to come back to the pit. It might be raining in the race, anything can happen, let's keep our fingers crossed and see what happens tomorrow."
Ah ha, drivers start to head out. Both Sauber drivers, McLaren, Räikkönen, too many to name!
According to FOM weather, there is no rain expected in Q2.
16 of the 17 competitors are out on track, with just Romain Grosjean remaining in the garage.
Pérez sets the first time of the session: 1:39.043, instantly beaten by his teammate.
Yellow flags briefly.
Pastor Maldonado ran miles off track and caused the yellow flags, but managed to cross the gravel and rejoin the action.
Comment from Lukeh: if you're going that wide pastor, you tend to come off the throttle
Interview with Timo Glock: "We need to see what the weather is doing. If it's raining like hell, we'll just manage to stay on track and finish the race. The car has good reliability, we should be fine. If you see the gap in Melbourne it was like 5.1 seconds in quali, and now we are down to 3.7 but now we have to be realistic. Still, we reduce the gap. The track is longer here compared to Melbourne as well, and again without any technical problems, I think that's one of the biggest achievements for the team."
Kimi Räikkönen jumps up to P1, with Button and Hamilton behind. The Mercedes duo are down in 6th and 7th at the moment.
Maldonado has damaged the left hand side of the car, so he has returned to the pit lane and is being swarmed by mechanics.
Romain Grosjean has left the garage for his first lap.
The drop zone currently features Massa, Pérez, Di Resta, Hülkenberg, Maldonado, Senna and Grosjean. The last four have not yet set times.
Less than five minutes to go, and just five cars are out on track.
Bruno Senna leaves the pitlane to attempt to set a time, neither Williams car has a time on the board in this session so far.
Team radio to Hamilton: "We won't be going again. We believe we're safely through."
Hamilton currently sits third, all three top drivers have pitted. Romain Grosjean jumped up to fourth with his first lap.
Massa is on a hot lap, he jumps up to P9 which drops teammate Alonso out of the top ten. He's out on a lap now to improve.
Alonso does manage to improve to sixth place, so that pushes Kobayashi out and drops Massa into danger in tenth. Those Ferrari boys, honestly.
Yup, there he goes, Massa drops down and out of the top ten. It wasn't Kobayashi who did it, though. The Sauber driver remains in the drop zone.
Massa pits, he's given up with qualifying for today.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Schumacher has dropped to P11, but he's on a hot lap right now. Can he do it?
Nico Rosberg improves to third, avoiding the situation where his teammate could have knocked him out of the session.
Schumacher does it, he's improved to fourth place, dropping Maldonado out of the final session.
|14||P di Resta||Force India|
|15||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|16||N Hülkenberg||Force India|
Fastest three this time out: Kimi Räikkönen 1:36.715, Jenson Button 1:36.928 and Lewis Hamilton 1:36.996.
Grosjean sits in the Lotus garage. The team ended Q2 with Kimi on top, and Romain 6th. Not a bad effort.
Qualifying session 3 begins.
Interview with Paul di Resta: "It's pretty warm, track temp up about 60 degrees. It puts a lot of pressure on us and the cars. We saved the best, what we had up until qualifying. I nailed Sector 1 and 2, unfortunately didn't quite use the grip available in Sector 3.
"It's an improvement from Australia. It is going to be a battle, we didn't think it would be otherwise. We'll sit down tonight and try and factor in everyone... try and grab some points again."
Red Bull, McLaren and Lotus all have their drivers out on track.
Räikkönen puts the first time on the board - 1:36.627.
Button beats him, then Hamilton tops it with a 1:36.219. Webber sticks in fourth, with Vettel sixth behind Grosjean.
Just Alonso and Pérez remain in the garage at the moment, both Mercedes cars on an out lap.
Notably, Vettel's time is a second slower than Hamilton's.
Kimi pits from third place, followed by Button and Hamilton. Preparations begin for the final lap attempt.
Pérez heads out for his first lap of the session, whilst Alonso remains in the garage. Is he just going for a one lap shot?
Rosberg's lap puts him into third, with Schumacher on his own lap now.
Alonso leaves the garage, with less than three minutes remaining.
Schumacher moves up to second place, splitting the McLarens, but now ALL cars are out on track.
Ross Brawn sits back, arms folded on the pit wall. Satisfied with their pace, or hoping for more?
The two Mercedes drivers have both pitted, happy with what they've done, so I guess Brawn was satisfied.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
Webber finishes his lap, moving up to third place. Kimi's lap moves him up to fourth, pushing Button down. He's on a lap still.
Sebastian Vettel is on the harder tyre and takes sixth place.
Button moves up to second, leaving Lewis Hamilton on pole position - the same as in Australia!
|4||M Webber||Red Bull|
|6||S Vettel||Red Bull|
Just over a second splitting the entire top ten.
Tweet from @GaryPaffett: #McLaren 1-2 yet again!!! Fantastic job by the whole team once again. Great start to my birthday! :)
Interview with Martin Whitmarsh: "Lewis did a fantastic first lap in Q3 there, and Jenson, as ever, just pulled it out at the end. It's close, it's competitive, but both guys did great laps and a well deserved front row.
"The tyres are going to be an issue here, the prime tyre is going to be a good tyre here. Red Bull judged they weren't going to be up in the front couple of rows. I'm surprised a couple of others didn't do that. It makes it interesting, makes it challenging, Sebastian's a great racer so we'll have a race on our hands tomorrow."
Whitmarsh thought others might try the harder tyre, but it looks like Vettel is the only driver to set his fastest lap on the hard compound.
Tweet from @EmBuxton: Shame Kimi has the 5 place grid penalty. He drops down to P10 with P5 now Vettel; 6 Grosjean; 7 Rosberg; 8 Alonso; 9 Perez
Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "It's been a good weekend so far. It's been a tough day with the changeable weather conditions and the temperatures climbing. Made some set up changes to the car, but still managed to produce some good times.
"I think everyone is under the same amount of pressure, we all put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves. It's very intense, and it's probably the most exciting part of the weekend, but it's something I really enjoy."
Press Conference Quotes - Jenson Button: "Qualifying's been pretty good to me 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 always nice when you can hear the mechanics in the background cheering. You obviously want it the other way round though, but Lewis did a great lap at the beginning of Q3.
"I think it'll be an exciting start, but the Mercedes is renowned for getting good starts."
Press Conference Quotes - Michael Schumacher: "This was the maximum was available. We managed to work the car very well over the whole weekend. We showed potential in Australia, not so much in the race. Focus was to find the best compromise for both. We achieved it. Third here, we can be more than happy about the achieved and look forward to tomorrow.
"I guess all of us have certain concerns because those temperatures are pretty new to us. We had some preparation yesterday. I guess we have done a decent job, we have reacted, the boys in the factory, the team have done a great job. So look forward to tomorrow."
Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "I don't know if there's definitely a best place to start here, it's a long haul down to turn one. There's going to be a lot of interesting strategies here. Hopefully, we've got the car in a much better position here, so look forward to that."
Interview with Vettel: "I was struggling on the soft tyres, thought I had a better car on the harder tyres, that's why I made the call. Whether that is an advantage tomorrow, because we are the only ones we hope it might be, but we'll see. I think, what do you expect to happen in one week, our race pace should be better but there's plenty of work to do."
Looking at the times a little closer, Webber and Räikkönen both set the same time: 1:36.461. Impressive!
Tweet from @alanbaldwinf1: So just to recap: McLaren had one pole in all of 2010, one in 2011. Two out of two in 2012 so far. Great start.
That wraps things up for qualifying, then. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow, how about you?
I don't want to brag about it, but I did predict Hamilton for pole. (Wasn't exactly an out of field idea, I suppose).
Do join us tomorrow for the race, we'll have a live thread, and this here Factbyte Factbox will be providing coverage of all the action.
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24 March 2012
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