Tweet from @byronf1: An hour to go to qualifying and the track temperature is already 44 degrees. Air 30 ! Will it rain ? Could go either way. Humidity 71pc.
Yesterday, Renault had some troubles with their front wheels on both cars - a problem that saw Petrov spin off into the gravel.
They've blamed that on a batch manufacturing problem, so aren't anticipating any more issues today.
In FP3 earlier, Paul di Resta seemed unable to get to grips with the tyres, spinning twice - although no damage to the car.
Comment from Leigh O'Gorman: I'm thinking Paul di Resta will go out in Q1
Sauber's James Key talks of the rear wing disqualification: "I think the modification we've made, we've checked it out here, we tested it at the factory beforehand, there was zero difference, so Melbourne was a genuine result. We had to come away sad after what was a good weekend which is not where you want to be but we move on now, it's a long season."
Last year, the rain mixed up qualifying quite considerably, with the top contenders leaving it too late to exit the garage and missing the opportunity to put in a good time.
Webber took pole position in 2010 with a 1:49.327.
The most significant thing we've seen so far this weekend is that the tyre wear is higher than the teams may have been expecting.
Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery suggested that we should expect three stops during the race.
Jenson Button on whether the DRS will make a difference around Sepang: "I think it will work really well round here, it's such a long straight. In a way, it'll make it too easy to overtake. You get within one second here, you can usually overtake. I think the difficulty will be to get within one second."
And Vettel on the same: "Ideally I don't have anyone to overtake, but that is a luxury situation."
HRT are feeling more optimistic ahead of this weekend - having failed to qualify within 107% in Australia.
Yesterday, the HRT's got some good running in, and were within the 107% of Friday times.
Narain Karthikeyan said afterwards: "I'm fairly confident, but still half a second this way or that way...anything can happen,. At least we did a few laps today - not the maximum that we hoped for because both of our cars had various problems."
Geoff Willis, Technical Director at HRT: "This is probably the hardest circuit for us to qualify on, it's the one with the greatest gain for aerodynamics. You can't just sit at the back of the grid and hope for six tenths, you've just got to be remorseless and keep pushing until you get to the front."
Thirty minutes until qualifying begins.
The BBC have a piece on Nico Rosberg and how much training drivers do: "I think it's very underestimated, how fit we need to be. I think we are as fit as anyone in any other sport, whether it's endurance or whatever."
Things you didn't know you needed to know. Rosberg: "I probably sweat more than other people. My teammate for example, the guy doesn't sweat."
Tweet from @NickHeidfeld: 20 minutes to go, dry conditions
Red Bull looked into why Webber was a bit slower than his teammate in Melbourne, and have found issues with a rear damper.
Michael Schumacher on the potential for a wet race: "I have had basically no rain running. I had some in Barcelona but it was so wet I couldn't run. It's going to be an interesting experience."
Christian Horner on qualifying: "Both drivers seem to be running pretty close together, Mark is back on form this weekend which is great to see."
Horner on whether they'll use KERS:" We'll decide during the session and prior to the race, but it's on the cards, so it's potentially there to be used."
And finally Horner on the weather: " We saw last year badly affected by rain in the first session, so it's going to be important to get the calls right."
David Coulthard points out that the first corner will be faster in qualifying, with DRS adding some speed throughout. Braking points will be crucial.
|(forecast data from Brembo)|
|Maximum pedal load||139kg|
Comment from Amy, at the track: it really feels like rain is coming plus sky is getting darker
It's worth pointing out that the tyres this weekend are the same as last, hards and softs, but if the rain comes down that will not mean very much.
We've closed the poll over who will qualify 18th. It looks like your favourites for the drop are Maldonado and Sutil.
Karun Chandhok, Lotus reserve driver: "The atmosphere here is very positive in the team. This morning we were half a second of the established teams. This is a team of the future for me, with the shareholders involved, I see a god long term potential. You've got to take the best opportunities that come your way, and this was it for me."
Comment from Amy: pamela says it doesn't feel like rain. I may have a bad case of wishful thinking
Heikki keeps cool ahead of qualifying.
Team radio to Timo Glock: "Looking at the weather reports, the showers that were imminent are going away, so we should be fine for the first session."
Ferrari have admitted they're not on the pace this weekend, they're hoping for sixth and seventh position.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Liuzzi out first.
Paul di Resta has followed him out of the garage.
First lap time of the day to Liuzzi - 1:43.128.
Plenty of other cars out on track now as well.
The F1 live timing: http://www.formula1.com/live_timing/live_timing.html has a handy 107% time reference for those of us that are not great at maths.
Comment from Lukeh: Yesss!!! Liuzzi for pole!!!!
Barrichello has popped up to P1, three seconds on the HRT already.
Liuzzi returns to the pits after three laps, as Hamilton puts in a 1:37.
Just the two Renault cars and two Saubers yet to leave the garage.
Tweet from @tonyfernandes: Both cars out. Come on boys.
There's debris on the track and replays show Sébastien Buemi's sidepod just flew off.
Stopped with exactly 12 minutes to go. They just need to grab that bodywork.
Team radio from Buemi: "I lost part of my car! Part of the engine cover has come off. I come in, I come in."
Race Control: Session will re-start at 16:12.
Buemi's bare sidepod.
Some of the drivers will have wasted a set of tyres thanks to the red flag.
Track is clear.
The Lotus cars head out first.
Kovalainen leads Trulli, with both needing to set a laptime.
The 107% time at the moment is 1:44.288 and Liuzzi is still on his 1:43. Karthikeyan is ahead, so both would make it through at this point.
Hamilton remains ahead of Vettel, with Alguersuari in third, but nine cars still to set a time.
Neither Ferrari has a time yet, the red flag may not have worked out in their favour. Both Massa and Alonso out on track now.
Eight minutes of the session remain.
Kovalainen pops up to 7th, ahead of Rosberg in 8th.
Of those who need a time, just Petrov remains in the garage.
And the Russian heads out on the track.
Massa pops up to P1, a 1:36.744. That has drastically lowered the 107% time, but Liuzzi still just inside.
Tweet from @autosportlive: Massa has made the jump to soft tyres and tops the times, which may worry the top teams into action on similar tyres.
Just two Renaults to get times - Heidfeld jumps up to 4th, then Petrov beats him to the position.
With all cars now posting a time, the drop zone features Maldonado, Sutil, Barrichello, Glock, D'Ambrosio, Karthikeyan and Liuzzi.
Massa and Alonso are now 1-2, back in the pit lane. Were they just fooling us with that talk of sixth and seventh earlier?
Two minutes left.
Maldonado puts in a great lap, and suddenly both Mercedes cars are in the drop zone.
Both Mercedes drivers have opted for soft tyres in this session. As have Ferrari.
Schumacher improves to 4th, Rosberg struggled with traffic but manages 9th.
Liuzzi has improved and now sits ahead of Karthikeyan, both still within the 107% time.
Webber is down in 15th, he needs to put in a strong lap to make it through.
Qualifying session 1 ends.
Maldonado back in the drop zone, Barrichello just on the tip. Not a good weekend for Williams so far.
Maldonado doesn't improve. 18th position for him.
Also, Webber didn't manage to improve and finished 15th in that session!
Comment from RG: Well done Hispania for qualifying, small victories...
Comment from RachelC: disappointed in Virgin here; HRT are far too close to them considering testing; they're slower then expected
Tweet from @MikeGascoyne: Didn't make it but good to be racing, disappointed but a much better day for the team, well done everyone
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Buemi was waiting at the end of the pitlane, and heads out as soon as the lights go green.
Webber is out early in this session, possibly determined to improve the gap with his teammate.
Vettel and Hamilton also out to set in early times.
Buemi is about to set the first time of Q2. We didn't see much of him after his car fell apart in Q1, but he must have been good enough to go through.
The Toro Rosso sets a 1:37.975, with Alguersuari following behind.
Hamilton beets them both, a 1:37.3.
Tweet from @OfficialLRGP: Times are so competitive to get in the top ten that soft tyres are surely the way to go for Q2 for most cars.
Webber puts in a 1:36, but Vettel drops that down to 1:35.934. Super fast.
Button jumps up to P1 - 1:35.549. Four tenths faster than Vettel.
Just under nine minutes remain of this second session.
Once again, both Renault drivers remain in the garage, and this time it is Force India waiting with them.
There are only three drivers on track now, both Mercedes and Barrichello.
Heidfeld leaves the garage for the first time this session.
Team radio from Schumacher:"What do we think is the target lap time?"
"37.0. At the moment we think we're going to have to run again."
Both Renault cars are out now, just going for the one run this time out, potentially saving tyres for the race.
Five minutes to go.
Alonso, and both Toro Rosso cars, have joined the Renault drivers out on track.
Force India have left the garage now - leaving it late!
Heidfeld pops up to 4th place, and once again, Petrov beats him to the position. That is exactly what happened in Q1 too.
Tweet from @clubforce: Paul 20 seconds ahead of Adrian...so he has a clear track
Aside from the Force India cars, the drop zone also features Barrichello, both Saubers, and Hamilton!
Lewis is out on a lap at the moment, putting in a fastest second sector.
Hamilton improves to 2nd position.
He managed that even with a bit of a moment flat-spotting his tyre during the lap.
Both Force India drivers have a time now, but neither escaped the drop zone.
Drop zone currently: Buemi, Rosberg, Alguersuari, Di Resta, Perez, Sutil and Barrichello.
Kobayashi just improved to eighth which is why Buemi dropped down out of the top ten.
Schumacher remained in tenth place, until Rosberg improved to 6th, dumping his teammate out of qualifying.
Pérez couldn't improve on his 15th position.
Fastest three, Button, Hamilton and Vettel.
|12||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso|
|13||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso|
|14||Paul di Resta||Force India|
|17||Adrian Sutil||Force India|
Tweet from @ManipeF1: Great job by Di Resta to outqualify his team-mate, again! Schumacher the big shock in Q2, misses the cut by two tenths. #F1
Just for fun.
|Force India||Qualified Ahead|
|Paul di Resta||2|
Pastor Maldonado: "It was not so great, we didn't expect to be out in Q1. We lose a bit of performance, my lap was not so clean. The only positive thing is that we have some new tyres for tomorrow, so the strategy could make the difference. I hope to be in the points."
Comment from RachelC: I'm going for Vettel, Button, Webber as top 3
Qualifying session 3 begins.
No one waiting at the end of the pit lane this time, but Hamilton is the first man out after 30 seconds.
Button joins his teammate, both on the soft tyres.
Ted Kravitz reports: McLaren are running a little more downforce than their competitors, so they may not have pace in the speed traps, but it is helping them.
Red Bull and McLaren the teams to beat, and all four drivers out on track now.
Tweet from @autosportlive: The local radar shows storms developing very quickly in the region, but we are good to go for a dry end to the session.
Tweet from @narainracing: We've qualified ...... Now let's race!!
Not till tomorrow, Narain.
Hamilton has a 1:35.000. Mmmm, no tenths or nothing.
Button pops in behind him, and Webber splits the two.
Five minutes left of the session.
Vettel slips into second. So current order: HAM, VET, WEB, BUT.
Four minutes to go, only four times on the board. Has everyone else given up?
Comment from Lukeh: Loving we don't need no rain for an exciting session too.
Alonso and Heidfeld break cover and hit the track.
All ten cars are now out on track.
Two minutes to go.
I secretly hope no one beats Hamilton's time, solely because .000 looks so beautiful.
Webber is faster than pole, .052, but Hamilton looks even faster.
They haven't finished their laps yet, mind.
Alonso goes fifth, Heidfeld sixth.
Massa slips into 7th, Kobayashi 8th.
Webber can't improve, but Hamilton tops his own time, a 1:34.974.
Button remains 4th. Vettel now.
Vettel does it! A 1:34.870!
Oops, in all the excitement, I may have forgotten something.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|3||Mark Webber||Red Bull|
Fernando Alonso is seen perusing the times. Ferrari do not look happy this weekend.
Christian Horner: "A fantastic lap from Seb, he managed just to get it by a tenth. McLaren's have been quick all weekend. Mark right up there as well, sets up a great race for tomorrow. Both guys on the clean side of the grid, a great team performance."
Horner admits Red Bull were using KERS on both cars in this session, and they had a bit of an alarm on Webber's but they don't think it's anything serious.
Jenson Button: "I just wish Q2 was Q3 but it isn't. I had a bit more oversteer, but that's the direction I took. The balance was pretty good but the last sector for me... I just hurt the tyres too much. It looks like it will be a fun scrap tomorrow. We're a lot closer to the Red Bulls than people expected, and there's a big gap behind us, so hopefully it'll be us four playing tomorrow."
Alonso needs to be cheered by the fact he outqualified Massa, and is best of the rest, even if they aren't quite on pace with the top two teams.
|F Alonso on lap 14|
Tweet from @MyTeamLotus: WOW!! Great quali, at the front and the back. We finished closer than ever to the midfield so the atmosphere is good. Measured joy.
Compared to earlier, the gap between Hamilton and Vettel is reversed, and Webber and Button have squished up considerably.
That sums up qualifying really. It was all about four drivers, with the rest scrapping for positions as best they could.
Maldonado was the big surprise in first qualifying, so well done to those who voted him in the poll!
We've got a full grid lined up for tomorrow, and the racing should be exciting from the start.
I'm going to be back here at 8am UK time, doing my thing, and I hope you'll join me to do yours.
This is the Factbyte Factbox signing off for now. Over and out.
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