Another week, another 2012 F1 Grand Prix; this time in Malaysia – sort of up a bit and left from last week’s Melbourne race. The location’s changed and so’s the heat and humidity, but the front row is just the same as in Australia with the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton on pole with team-mate Jenson Button alongside.
Hamilton set a cracking pace in final qualifying on his first lap, a time even he couldn’t better in his final run. Button ran him close, just 0.149s behind, to make sure the front row was an all McLaren affair and Michael Schumacher again proved the power of this year’s Mercedes package with third place on the grid (which is his best since his return to F1), although Rosberg could only manage 8th in his Mercedes, alongside Grosjean’s Lotus.
Alongside Schumacher on the second row is Mark Webber in the Red Bull, pushing Vettel down in to sixth place with returning champion Kimmi Raikkonen splitting the Red Bulls to put his Lotus in an impressive 5th spot
Ferrari fared a bit better than in Melbourne, with Alonso managing to squeeze in to final qualifying and taking 9th with Massa doing better than last week with 12th spot. But still not exactly the sort of performance Ferrari expects.
Perez rounded out the top ten in the Sauber and the best the Williams team could manage in Sepang was 11th for Maldonado. Paul Di Resta out-performed his team-mate to put his Force India in 14th with Hulkenberg’s in 16th.
The back of the grid is a pair of Caterhams followed by a pair of Marussias with HRT filling the back row. No surprise there.
With a similar grid to Melbourne, will the race in Sepang pan out the same? There’s more heat and humidity in Malaysia and tyres will probably take a bigger beating. Logically that should work in smooth and calm Button’s favour.