Sebastian Vettel’s excellent start to life with Ferrari continued in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday as the German driver scored the team’s first front-row start in two years.
A heavy rain shower during Q2 forced drivers to run on the intermediate tire in the final part of qualifying, allowing Vettel to run the Mercedes drivers close in the fight for pole position.
Although the German ultimately fell 0.074 seconds short of P1 man Lewis Hamilton at the flag, he still did enough to beat an annoyed Nico Rosberg to second place on the grid.
Speaking in the post-session press conference, Vettel admitted that although the Mercedes drivers will be hard to beat in the race, more rain could help him to fight at the front.
“You never know, just look outside,” Vettel said when asked about his chances of winning the race on Sunday. “Obviously when it starts to rain here, where there is a high chance, it can mix up things.
“I think it was an interesting qualifying session. The car felt good in both dry and wet conditions also at the end. I’m reasonably happy. Also the long-runs I think looked good in the practice, so we should be in good shape.
“But we know that they are difficult to beat. Ultimately, that’s why everyone turns up: trying to win. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow. It looks like we’re a little bit closer here, but we’ll have to wait and see I guess.”
Vettel is the first Ferrari driver to start on the front row of the grid at a grand prix since Felipe Massa at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix – a statistic that perfectly displays the Scuderia’s recent demise.
However, should more rain strike on Sunday, Vettel could be in the running to score the team’s first victory since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix. Mercedes unquestionably remains the team to beat, but the four-time world champion has made a very impressive start indeed to life with Ferrari.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30a ET on Sunday.