After the thrill of seeing both our cars in the top ten in Melbourne a fortnight ago, today we had to settle for just one driver making it to Q3. Jean-Eric Vergne will start from ninth on the grid, with Daniil Kvyat lining up behind him in eleventh spot.
As inevitably as night follows day, it started to rain in Sepang at 3pm, one hour before the start of qualifying. The rain became a deluge and eventually, Q1 got underway 50 minutes late. It was still raining and most of the field opted for Intermediates. Daniil and Jev made the cut to Q2, in fifteenth and sixteenth places respectively. Q1 lasted half a minute less than its scheduled 18, as Marcus Ericsson went off in the Caterham, hitting the barriers and nearly collecting Esteban’s Gutierrez as he pirouetted back onto the track.
Down the field it was a mix of inters and full wets for Q2 and in a very exciting 15 minutes, Daniil made it to tenth place on his final lap, only to find himself knocked out of Q3 and into eleventh by his team-mate, as Jev lapped 3 tenths faster to make it through to the final shoot-out. However, near the start of Q2, our Russian had the first collision of his F1 career. It was basically a misunderstanding, as he thought Fernando Alonso was ceding him the corner, but in fact, the Ferrari man had not been able to see Daniil in the spray and the two cars touched. It resulted in the Toro damaging its nose and the Cavallino needing a front left suspension repair. The Stewards decided to investigate the incident after the session and agreed with both drivers that it was all down to a lack of visibility because of all the spray and no further action was taken.
The rain never eased up into Q3, when in fact it got heavier, but Jev kept it on the island, managing to claim ninth place to give him a fighting chance of scoring points again tomorrow. Indeed, from right behind him on the grid, Daniil can have hopes of a good result. However, with rain almost certain again, it will be another Malaysian lottery.
Lewis Hamilton took his second consecutive pole of the season for Mercedes, while Sebastian Vettel joins him on the front row for Red Bull. Nico Rosberg in the other Silver Arrow is third with Fernando Alonso still managing fourth place, despite his incident with our driver.