Red Bull's World champion Sebastian Vettel took his second pole of the season for the Malaysian Grand Prix after finishing ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton in a closely contested qualifying session at Sepang.

In a tight final session, Hamilton set the pace in his first run, clocking a 1:35.000, with Vettel just 0.1 seconds behind him. In their last lap though, Vettel displayed Red Bull's pace and took pole after bettering Hamilton by just 0.104 seconds. Webber finished third, .205 seconds behind Hamilton, while Button finished fourth.

Webber clocked 1:36.0 in Q2 which didn't last long as it was beaten by his Red Bull team mate Vettel. Christian Horner, the Red Bull team boss, confirmed that the team was running the KERS system which they had spurned in Australia. However, he admitted his surprise at his team's performance.

In all honesty, no I didn't expect it [pole position after Hamilton's (performance) he said. It was an absolutely fantastic lap from Seb. The McLarens have been quick all weekend. Mark had a little Kers alarm that we're looking at, but I don't think it was anything significant.

Vettel used a rather amusing metaphor to explain pole his run saying, When it comes to qualifying you take your trousers down and you see what you've got. We can be very happy but it will be a difficult race.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finished fifth though he was over half a second slower than fourth placed Button while Nick Heidfeld, Felipe Massa, Vitaly Petrov, Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi completed the top ten in that order.

The leading teams all used soft tyres in the end and will have to use the same at the race tomorrow. However, even that didn't help Ferrari, and an unhappy Alonso said, It was not easy. We found we were not competitive enough in morning practice, so it was again a conservative approach.

It is a stressful situation. We did our job today, knowing we must improve. A second gap between pole position and us is too much. In the race I think it is much closer. I'm not so sure which conditions are better for us. The start will be interesting. If it's raining here, everything is a gamble.

Michael Schumacher again disappointed as he dropped out in the second session. Rosberg, in his final lap, pushed him down to 11th.

Qualifying Times -

 

Driver

Teams

Time

1

S Vettel (GER)

Red Bull

1:34.870

2

LC Hamilton (GBR)

McLaren

1:34.974

3

M Webber (AUS)

Red Bull

1:35.179

4

J Button (GBR)

McLaren

1:35.200

5

F Alonso (ESP)

Ferrari

1:35.802

6

N Heidfeld (GER)

Renault

1:36.124

7

F Massa (BRA)

Ferrari

1:36.251

8

V Petrov (RUS)

Renault

1:36.324

9

N Rosberg (GER)

Mercedes-Benz

1:36.809

10

K Kobayashi (JPN)

Sauber

1:36.820

11

M Schumacher (GER)

Mercedes-Benz

1:37.035

12

S Buemi (SUI)

Toro Rosso

1:37.160

13

J Alguersuari (ESP)

Toro Rosso

1:37.347

14

P di Resta (GBR)

Force India

1:37.370

15

RG Barrichello (BRA)

Williams

1:37.496

16

S Perez (MEX)

Sauber

1:37.528

17

A Sutil (GER)

Force India

1:37.593

18

P Maldonado (VEN)

Williams

1:38.276

19

H Kovalainen (FIN)

Lotus

1:38.645

20

J Trulli (ITA)

Lotus

1:38.791

21

T Glock (GER)

Virgin

1:40.648

22

J d'Ambrosio (BEL)

Virgin

1:41.001

23

V Liuzzi (ITA)

HRT

1:41.549

24

KRN Karthikeyan (IND)

HRT

1:42.574