The third row of the Malaysian Grand Prix grid will be an all-red affair when at the end of Saturday afternoon’s qualifying in Sepang, Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest with a best time of 1.33.584, one place ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who posted the sixth best time of 1.33.632.
The duo from Maranello will be starting behind the two Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified third and fourth respectively, with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg locking out the front row.
Sebastien Vettel had hoped to finish higher up, however the German is confident that he will have good pace in Sunday’s race…
“We expected it to be tight, but we thought that we could have the upper hand in the end,” Seb explained. “So I am disappointed to see both Red Bulls in front of us, but they were just a bit quicker. There was not a lot missing, but just enough, just over a tenth.”
“We need to have a look into our data and see if we can pick it up later… In the end, we were hoping to be one row higher up, so in second, right behind the Mercedes. But for the race, nervertheless, we should have a good speed: the strategy will also be important tomorrow. There is a bit of room for manoeuvre, as everybody has to use the harder tire, which might make it interesting. And then there is also the fact that we are in Malaysia, so there might be some rain, or just the heat as a factor.”
As for teammate Kimi Raikkonen, qualifying was a case of smooth sailing, until it mattered the most, then he was hit by traffic….
“It was a pretty smooth running until the last try: then I had some traffic on the out lap and struggled with the tires to make them work in the first two corners, so I ran a bit wide,” he explained. “It was a decent qualifying session but it’s painful when you have such a bad last try.”
“The handling of the car has been pretty ok and I was hoping for a bit more, but tomorrow we’ll try to do better. We don’t know what will happen and obviously we are not in the ideal starting position. The tarmac is new so it’s hard to say where it’s going to go and which tire will be the best, it will be a lot down to the conditions. We have to do our own best and see what that brings in the race.”