Mark Webber took a big gamble and ventured out on intermediate tyres after a heavy downpour in Sepang yesterday – and it paid off spectacularly when he ended up taking pole position.
While the other top 10 drivers all roared out on wet tyres, because most of the track was still wet, the brave Red Bull racer modestly shared the credit with his team for his decision to try a different approach.
The rain had made the qualifying sessions unpredictable and at times a lottery, with the third and final part of the session having to be stopped for 15 minutes as a thunderstorm made conditions too treacherous to even attempt to try to go at racing speed.
When the rain relented and it was judged by officials safe enough to restart, the top 10 drivers all came back on to the Sepang circuit to battle for top spot.
Much of the track was still soaked, so wet tyres looked the smart way to go and that was what nine of them went with.
The exception was Webber who chose intermediates. While some of the long 5.5km track was still rain soaked, Webber took advantage of the drying line in other parts to charge round and claim the second pole of his career with a time of 1min 49.327secs.
Webber said it had been a team decision and added: “It was starting to spit at the end there but in sections it was definitely the tyre to be on, and in other places it was a risk to throw it off.
Alex Kapadia, Operations Team
“I didn’t know if I was only guy on inters, so didn’t know I was the black sheep of the top 10. In the end we made the decision together and it was about putting it together.”