Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix 2014: Results, Times for Practice and Qualifying
The Malaysian Grand Prix is the second round of the 2014 Formula One season.
Held at the Sepang International Circuit since 1999, the race has become a favourite with fans and drivers alike.
Having won the opening race in Australia, Nico Rosberg enters a weekend as championship leader for the first time in his career. McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button are close behind.
One could be forgiven for thinking concerns over reliability had been overplayed after only six cars failed in Australia, but no one should count their chickens just yet.
The heat of Malaysia will provide a much sterner test for the new powertrains.
Time and reports for each session will be posted as they happen.
Bleacher Report Malaysian Grand Prix Essentials
Live Race Updates by Oliver Harden.
Full Malaysian Grand Prix Preview by Neil James.
Expert Predictions for the Race by B/R F1 writers.
Q3: Lewis Hamilton on Pole Alongside Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton survived a late trip off the track to secure his second pole position of the season. He is now equal with Jim Clark as the most prolific British polesitter in F1 history.
He'll be joined on the front row by Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
The session began much as Q2 had ended, with nearly every driver on full wets.
Hamilton hit the front straight away, but having matched or bettered his teammate in the dry all weekend, Nico Rosberg couldn't quite keep up.
So the expected Mercedes battle for pole position never materialised, but we got something better.
Vettel's Red Bull was much happier in the wet than in the dry. After the first round of laps he was second, just a few hundredths behind Hamilton. Fernando Alonso was in the mix too.
All the front-running drivers pitted for fresh wets, and everyone hopped onto the edge of their seats for the final few minutes.
In the end, it was a bit of an anticlimax. Vettel backed off too much and missed out on an extra lap by just one second, while Hamilton made a mistake at Turn 4 and gave up on his lap.
Rosberg could only improve by a little to qualify third.
Alonso will start fourth, Daniel Ricciardo fifth and Kimi Raikkonen sixth.
Full results from Formula1.com:
Q2: Lewis Hamilton Ahead as the Red Bulls Fight Back
The rain returned and most of the drivers started on full wets.
But no one managed to set a time before Daniil Kvyat missed his braking point going into Turn 9 and ran into the side of Fernando Alonso. The session was red flagged due to debris from the incident on the track.
Alonso's suspension was damaged and it looked like he might be out, but the Ferrari mechanics did a brilliant job of replacing the broken part and the Spaniard could carry on.
When the session restarted, it was full wets all round again.
Lewis Hamilton was quickest, but it didn't go all Mercedes' way. The Red Bulls joined the party, as the wet track reduced their power disadvantage and magnified their aerodynamic edge. Sebastian Vettel set the second-fastest time, ahead of Nico Rosberg.
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth.
The two Williams drivers were the major casualties of the session. It seems the FW36 just isn't as good in the wet as it is in the dry.
11: Daniil Kvyat
12: Esteban Gutierrez
13: Felipe Massa
14: Sergio Perez
15: Valtteri Bottas
16: Romain Grosjean
Q1: Nico Rosberg Ahead as Marcus Ericsson Crashes
Heavy rain caused a delay to the start of qualifying.
The risk increases towards late afternoon, so maybe F1 needs to think less about plonking the sessions into nice times for European TV viewers and more about putting them at a suitable local time.
It wouldn't guarantee no heavy rain, but the risk would be reduced.
The session eventually got under way 50 minutes late, and the excessive length of the delay was evident when nearly everyone went out on intermediates, rather than full wets.
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton parked at the end of the pit lane for over three minutes to ensure a place at the front of the queue. They immediately set the pace, with everyone else a fair way behind.
Their times didn't really change, and they ended up in first and second.
Elsewhere, it was more exciting. Drivers found and lost time repeatedly throughout the session and moved up and down the standings like yo-yos.
Sebastian Vettel overcame a car problem early in the session to set the third-fastest time, while Nico Hulkenberg impressed with fourth.
Only 35 seconds were left when Marcus Ericsson dropped it on the exit of Turn 3, bringing out the red flag. The session was stopped, and despite the rain, there were no real surprises in the bottom six.
17: Pastor Maldonado
18: Adrian Sutil
19: Jules Bianchi
20: Kamui Kobayashi
21: Max Chilton
22: Marcus Ericsson
FP3: Mercedes Assert Their Dominance
The clouds had gathered over the circuit for the start of FP3. With the teams perhaps anticipating a shower, there was quite a queue of cars waiting to get out right at the start.
But it didn't last long, and within five minutes the track was almost empty.
The rain didn't show up and when everyone got back out, Mercedes reasserted their dominance in a massive way.
Nico Rosberg led the way with a time of 1 minute, 39.008 seconds. An error on Lewis Hamilton's lap left him a few tenths down in second.
Then came a rather huge gap, with third-placed Kimi Raikkonen more than a second off Rosberg's best. Sebastian Vettel was slower still in fourth.
Force India will be encouraged by Nico Hulkenberg's lap of 1:40.523. The team hadn't looked especially quick during Friday's sessions, but the German's time was good enough for fifth.
Daniel Ricciardo (who was incredibly slow through the speed trap), Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez rounded out the Top 10. Behind Mercedes, a number of teams look very close, so the battle to get into Q3 is set to be very interesting.
But one team we'd expect to be in the mix had a horrible time. McLaren took over Lotus' spot as the team in peril and an engine sensor problem on both cars severely limited their running. Neither driver set a competitive time, and they face a race against time to be ready for qualifying.
And at the risk of sounding like a horribly broken record, Caterham had issues too. Kamui Kobayashi's car ended the session in pieces as his mechanics worked to fix a problem with the power unit.
Full session times from Formula1.com:
P2: Rosberg on Top
Nico Rosberg was quickest in P2 as Mercedes remained on top—but it was a close-run thing.
The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen was just 0.035 seconds behind.
Qualifying and race simulations were the focus of this session, giving us an early idea of the pecking order.
Mercedes were quick with both low and high fuel, and there's no question they remain the team to beat. But they don't look as far ahead as they were in Australia, and there was evidence they may struggle with tyre wear on longer runs.
Ferrari appear to have made substantial strides after a weak showing in Australia. Both drivers were quick over a single lap, and their "race pace" was only a shade down on Mercedes.
Also pushing at the front were the Red Bulls. Though a bit slower on the straights, the car looked incredibly good through the corner-heavy middle sector.
Their lap times on long runs were only around half a second down on the Mercedes.
McLaren and Williams are perhaps a little bit behind the leading three, and will be disappointed they seem to have dropped back. But the weekend is young, and they can't be ruled out at this stage.
Further down the grid, Lotus continued their disastrous start to the season. Romain Grosjean got stuck in gear after nine laps, and Pastor Maldonado didn't leave the pits at all.
Grosjean managed to get going again, but stopped again a few laps later. It was widely known Lotus were in trouble, but it's worrying that they still have such fundamental issues with the car.
Caterham looked little better. Kamui Kobayashi joined Maldonado as a spectator, with Marcus Ericsson comfortably slowest of the drivers who completed a lap.
Toro Rosso and Force India seem fairly equal, with Sauber a few tenths back.
Away from the track, Bernie Ecclestone was present in the pit lane, hearing the cars in the flesh for the first time in 2014. He told Sky Sports F1's live coverage that he thought the cars were a bit louder than he'd expected, but he'd still like to get the sound levels up a little.
Unfortunately for him, that's easier said than done.
Full session times from Formula1.com:
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:39.970||0.061||30|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:40.276||0.367||29|
|10||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:40.691||0.782||34|
|16||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.671||1.762||25|
P1: Lewis Hamilton Sets the Early Pace
Lewis Hamilton set the early pace with a lap of one minute, 40.691 seconds. His time was four seconds slower than the best set in P1 last year, but with grip levels low we can expect much quicker laps as the weekend goes on.
As in Australia, Fernando Alonso was first out in the Ferrari. He was soon joined on the track as everyone went out early for an installation lap before returning to the pits.
McLaren had been busy in the last two weeks, bringing out a new and improved front end with an even uglier new nose section. They expect a significant performance gain from the update, but it's unlikely to put them close to Mercedes.
Speaking of Mercedes, they were running a different engine cover. First seen in testing at Bahrain, it features a much larger cooling outlet at the rear to cope with the warmer temperatures expected at Sepang.
On the track, it was a rather quiet affair early on. Long periods of time passed with only one or two cars running, as the teams limited running to preserve their engines.
There were even spells of silence, with no one on the track at all. Fortunately for the fans at the track and the viewers who'd stayed up late to watch on TV, things picked up in the second half of the session.
But not for everyone.
Lotus' problems continued, with Romain Grosjean stopping on the track after just a few laps. Pastor Maldonado managed only two before his car began to smoke and he needed a push back to the pits.
Kamui Kobayashi's Caterham developed a problem too, limiting him to just five laps.
It wasn't just the Renault-engined teams in trouble. Kevin Magnussen's Mercedes-powered McLaren lost power and stopped at the pit lane entrance. After a few false starts, he was eventually pushed into the pit lane by the track marshals.
Sergio Perez did just two laps in his Force India before being forced out of the session with a fuel pressure problem.
Almost joining them on the sidelines was Adrian Sutil, who spun on his way into the pits and could easily have ended up in the wall.
He wasn't alone, as everyone seemed to struggle with the new Pirelli hard tyres. Grip levels looked very low, and Hamilton, Alonso and Felipe Massa were among other spinners, as Turns 7 and 8 proved especially troublesome.
Full session times from Formula1.com:
|7||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:41.523||0.832||9|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.642||0.951||19|
|12||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:42.117||1.426||20|
|20||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||No time||2|
|21||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus-Renault||No time||2|
|22||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||No time||4|