It may not have looked that way in Q1, but Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix after timing his final run on a drying circuit just right.
The German, who came close to dropping out in the first timed session, fitted a second set of Pirelli's intermediates and returned to the track as one of the last runners due to cross the line. The ploy worked as he clocked a 1min 49.674secs effort – close the crossover time where slicks may have been an option – to knock Fernando Alonso off top spot. The Spaniard had only just usurped Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes, as the times tumbled in the closing moments.
While Vettel lines up on pole for the second race in succession in 2013, Alonso's hopes of starting alongside his rival were dashed as Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa followed the German across the line to claim second spot, out-qualifying Alonso for the fourth race in a row.
Hamilton had already shot his bolt and will have to start fourth overall, one place worse than in Australia, while Mark Webber deprived the Briton's Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, of a top five slot.
Melbourne winner Kimi Raikkonen will line up seventh, alongside Jenson Button, while Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez fill out row five, although the Mexican could still face sanction for blocking Nick Hulkenberg in Q1.
Full combined qualifying report now available.
Full qualifying times also available.