Webber masters the wet in Malaysia

Posted on April 3, 2010

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The 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix has the all the ingredients to be as eventful as last year’s event after Australian Mark Webber stormed to pole position.

The Red Bull driver was easily the fastest driver after gambling on intermediate tyres in the delayed Q3 qualifying session, setting a time of 1m 49.327s to head Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.

And Webber’s achievement was even more remarkable given the number of his rivals who fundamentally misjudged the conditions. Both Ferraris and Lewis Hamilton were knocked in Q1 after mystifying decisions to delay their first lap, while Jenson Button will start only 17th after crashing out on his lap back to the pits.

The result was a Lotus and Virgin into Q2 for the first time and a grid which looks prime to create some electrifying racing. Lewis has been quick all weekend and both McLarens will pass cars on Malaysia’s long straights. Alonso too will move forward, though Massa struggles in these conditions.

Anything could happen in the race itself: the olds hands Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher look well placed to me in 7th and 8th respectively. It’s set to be a great battle between the old team mates and tomorrow could well be the day the Schumacher of old returns to the grid.

The attrition rate among the rookies is going to be high so the number of accidents, flags and safety cars is going to make predictions a mugs game. Nevertheless, I’m making a call for Vettel to win, ahead of Kubica and Rubens.

What is clear is it’s time to reassess having the start date this late in the day. Not reaching the race distance tommorrow has got be a realistic prospect after what we’ve seen this morning and last year. Moreover, it’s a completely predictable result of moving the start time late in the afternoon, purely for the benefit of British and European TV audiences.

While I appreciate the civilised start time of 9am on a Sunday morning, even the excellent BBC Sport team struggled to fill the hour we watched rain falling last year. Rain can make for good racing but it’s not much good if it leads to no racing. Pulling it forward by an hour or two should be looked at.

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