Sepang – Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel has made it two pole positions in a row in 2013, going quickest in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix with a time of 1m49.674s. The Ferrari line-up of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were second and third.

Vettel set his pole time by nearly a second on the Cinturato Green intermediate tyre, as Q3 was held in wet conditions from start to finish. The slick tyres nominated for Malaysia are the P Zero White medium and P Zero Orange compound, which were used in Q1 and Q2.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing RB9
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing RB9

Photo by: XPB Images

As the top 10 all set their times in Q3 on the green intermediate tyre, they will be able to choose which compound they would like to start the race on tomorrow, opening up a wide range of possible strategies.

Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We saw an interesting variety of strategies right from the beginning of Q1, with a mix of teams going out on the hard and the medium tyre. Unusually for Q1, some of the top teams also used the softer compound, in order to save new tyres for the race.

But the rain that began to fall at the end of Q2 changed the complexion of qualifying entirely. With the track drying quite quickly, it all came down to the closing seconds of Q3, but the surface was still too wet to approach the crossover point for slick tyres – although it was not far off.

So it was mostly about who could stay out the longest to benefit from a drying track at the end of Q3. Now that the drivers have the possibility to start on whichever compound they choose tomorrow, the possibilities for strategy are wide open.

There’s a difference of about 0.8 seconds between the two slick compounds and the data we have seen so far suggests that we should expect about three stops tomorrow, on one of the most aggressive circuits of the year for the tyres. But knowing the conditions here in Malaysia, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the wet tyres out again at some point.”

The Pirelli mystery strategy predictor:

Three stops looks to be the fastest strategy tomorrow, with the hard compound looking set to be the favoured race tyre. This of course is assuming that it stays dry, which is by no means a given as the average monthly rainfall is about six times more than that of Melbourne.

The quickest strategy is to start on the medium tyre, change to the hard tyre on lap nine, change to the hard tyre again on lap 25, with a final stop for the hard tyre on lap 40.

An alternative strategy would be to start on the medium, change for another set of mediums on lap 13, change to the hard on lap 25, with a final stop for the hard tyre on lap 41.

Pirelli Motorsport