Australia's Mark Webber gave team Red Bull a third pole position in as many races on Saturday after a rain-affected qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix that saw Ferrari and McLaren relegated to the back four rows of the grid.
REUTERS - Mark Webber sped through the Malaysian rain to earn Red Bull a third pole position in as many races on Saturday and another chance of winning after two previous failures.
In a chaotic qualifying session that wrongfooted title rivals Ferrari and McLaren and left them languishing on the back four rows of the grid, the Australian finished 1.346 seconds clear of Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who was on pole position in Formula One's season opening Bahrain Grand Prix and again last week in Melbourne before being hit by mechanical problems in the race, qualified third.
Webber, all too aware of the problems, sounded a cautious note ahead of Sunday's race.
"We know some days we haven't executed the cleanest races so far this year. The guys (engineers) have worked like hell and we are doing our utmost to execute on those important Sunday afternoons," Webber told reporters.
"We have done a lot of great work on Fridays and Saturdays but we know tomorrow is a big chance for both of us to do well, with some of our main contenders having a tough day today.
"It's a long race. This place can throw up lots of stuff in a two hour duration potentially so we are not getting too far ahead of ourselves but we did what we needed to do today."
As well as the tropical downpour that started just before qualifying, the third session was briefly halted when conditions became so bad that visibility was down to a bare minimum and the cars struggled to maintain any sort of grip.
The decision to call the drivers in was greeted favourably by Vettel, who was happy with his performance on a day when so many others failed to cope with the conditions.
"At the start of Q3 (third qualifying session) there was so much water on the track so it was the right decision to get the red flag out. It was impossible for all of us and the cars are quite low so you end up swimming and not driving," he said.
"In Q3 we did the right thing and the water disappeared a lot quicker than people thought. Obviously Mark was on the better tyres at the end but third is a very good result for us as well.
"Everything is possible tomorrow. It was such a tricky session and so important just to get into the next round and qualify as high as possible. Which I think we did.
"I was very close to Nico so we can be very pleased."
Webber expressed his surprise at the mistakes made by Ferrari and McLaren but could understand why they happened given the circumstances.
"When you look at the amount of standing water in places... just trying to get a clear lap was pretty challenging," he added after securing the second pole of his career.
"There were a few big scalps in the first session which is a bit of a surprise but it just goes to show how sensitive it is to the tyres."
The Australian's stunning speed was partially down to a tactical masterstroke by his team of switching to intermediate tyres as the circuIt began to dry out in the final session.
"The option of the intermediate tyre had a one-lap window that Mark fully exploited," Red Bull team pricipal Christian Horner added. "First and third is a great job from both drivers."
Date created : 2010-04-03