for full Qualifying results.
- Wet session sees Hamilton edge Vettel by 0.055s
- Rosberg third ahead of Alonso who escapes Q2 crash
- Session delayed by heavy rain
Lewis Hamilton took pole position during a very wet qualifying session for the Malaysian Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel managed to split the two Mercedes.
Heavy rain throughout the hour before qualifying resulted in a delayed start, with the safety car checking the circuit on numerous occasions before running finally got underway 50 minutes late. Rain then fell intermittently throughout the session and it was Hamilton who mastered the conditions to take pole by just 0.055s from Vettel.
Nico Rosberg snatched third on the grid with a late lap but was still over half a second behind the front two. Rosberg was the only driver to improve with his second run as conditions worsened, with Vettel failing to start his final lap by less than a second but not suffering as a result. Fernando Alonso will join Rosberg on the second row, escaping a clash with Daniil Kvyat in Q2 to qualify fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
Most drivers opted for full wet tyres at the start of Q3, but – while team-mate Kevin Magnussen pit after an out-lap on intermediates – Jenson Button decided to remain on the intermediate tyre and it turned out to be the wrong choice as he will start tenth having set a lap 4.5s off the pace.
With rain falling at the start of Q2, most cars emerged on full wets apart from the Ferraris and Valtteri Bottas. Alonso saw his session threatened as he gingerly took Turn 9, with rookie Kvyat seeing it as an invitation to pass on the inside and hitting the side of the Ferrari, breaking Alonso's suspension and causing a red flag.
Both cars returned to the track once the debris had been cleared – with the incident being investigated after the session – and Alonso safely made it through while Kvyat just missed out on Q3 as his team-mate Vergne edged him out. Both Williams cars again struggled in wet conditions and this time dropped out in the second session, while a spin for Romain Grosjean on his final lap prevented him from improving on 16th place
The long delay at the start of the session allowed the track to dry sufficiently for intermediate tyres to be the choice of most of the field, with both McLarens opting to start on full wets but soon pitting for the intermediates as it appeared to struggle with tyre strategy throughout. Both Mercedes' got in very quick laps early and pit as light rain made it tough for drivers to improve considerably.
Vettel had a slight scare as he was forced to pit halfway through Q1 with an energy store issue, but a reset of the system allowed Red Bull to get him back out on track quickly and Vettel was able to improve to within half a second of the two Mercedes; himself over 1.2s clear of the next best time.
Grosjean got in an impressive lap to make it through to Q2, while a late crash for Marcus Ericsson – who dropped his Caterham exiting Turn 3 and slid along the barrier at high speed – brought out the red flags with 35 seconds remaining. With the session not restarting, Pastor Maldonado and Adrian Sutil were unable to complete laps to try and improve, dropping out alongside both Caterhams and Marussias.