In a qualifying session ruined by rain – after approximately 3 minutes, the Q3 was red-flagged due to heavy rain – some of the championship favorites failed to even get out of Q1. Under the circumstances, the less-rated teams this year were present with 2 cars in the last 10 minutes of action at Sepang (Force India, Williams). Adrian Sutil led the Q3 until the final seconds, only to finish 4th overall, while followed by Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher had to settle for 8th place, ahead of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi and Vitantonio Liuzzi.
Vitaly Petrov will start the race from 11th place, despite leading the field at one point during Q2. He will be followed on the grid by BMW Sauber Ferrari’s Pedro de la Rosa and Toro Rosso duo Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari. Lotus F1 once again managed to score the best qualifying time from the new teams – in front of their home crowd – with Heikki Kovalainen setting the 15th best time of the day, ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock.
Jenson Button failed to keep his car on the track for too long in the first 20 minutes of the Saturday qualifying, but nevertheless he got to score a time good enough to get him a spot in Q2. Due to his run-off excursion midway through Q1, his car was kept in the garage for the entire day. Therefore, the reigning world champion will start the race from 17th place.
Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa all failed to make it past the Q1, after gambling their way through the first 20 minutes of action. While sitting in the garage for the first part of Q1, when a slight drizzle looked set to end and allow some fast times on a drier track, they were surprised by the heavier rain in the second part of the session
Although they fought hard to get into Q2, both Alonso and Hamilton scored lap times in the vicinity of 1:52 minutes, while Massa ran wide late in Q1. Eventually, they scored the 19th, 20th and 21st best times of Saturday, ahead of HRT F1 duo Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok and Virgin’s Lucas di Grassi.
For full results, click here.