In the first sign that Ferrari could prove a major threat to the ongoing dominance of Mercedes AMG in Formula One, the Italian team’s star driver Sebastian Vettel has managed to set the second fastest time during qualifying today at the Malaysian Grand Prix. This means the German will start at the front of the grid, ending Mercedes' run of nine straight front-row lockouts. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was still fastest today, however, and will start at pole.
After heavy rain delayed the session, Hamilton posted up a 1:49.834 in Q3 on a very wet Sepang International Circuit. Vettel was right behind the Briton with a 1:49.908, and then it was Mercedes’ other driver Nico Rosberg third fastest with a 1:50.299. Impressively, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was the fourth fastest, despite his team’s very public problems with the RB11 racer.
Filling out row three tomorrow will be fellow Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, at fifth and sixth on the grid respectively. Behind them will be Williams’ Felipe Massa and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in seventh and eighth spots respectively.
Williams’ other driver Valtteri Bottas, who missed the previous race in Australia due to a back injury sustained during qualifying, was ninth fastest today in Malaysia. Rounding out the top ten was Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.
Unfortunately for McLaren, neither Jenson Button nor Fernando Alonso, who is racing for the first time this season, managed to get past Q1. The only driver slower was Marussia’s Roberto Merhi. His teammate Will Stevens didn’t get out at all due to car trouble.
Going into tomorrow's race, which may also be affected by rain, Hamilton leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 25 points, ahead of Rosberg who sits on 18 points. In third place is Ferrari’s other driver Sebastian Vettel with 15 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG leads with 43 points, followed by Ferrari with 15 points and Sauber with 14 points.