Saturday, 29 March 2014 | MYT 9:14 PM
Vettel showing good promise after strong qualifying finish
Sebastian Vettel of team Red Bull during the Formula One qualifying session at Sepang Circuit. - S. S. KANESAN / The Star
SEPANG: Mercedes may be the team to beat but do not write off Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel’s chances of hitting back in style at Sepang on Sunday.
The four-time world champion is looking for a good start to put points on board for the first time this season after posting the second fastest time in qualifying on Saturday.
Vettel is just 0.055 seconds behind pole sitter and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and is looking forward to claiming back-to-back Malaysian GP wins.
Vettel notched a controversial victory at Sepang last year when he ignored team orders to win a battle with his Australian team-mate Mark Webber.
“I should be on the good side for tomorrow but it depends on how good the start is. I’m happy with the result. I think we have a chance to beat anyone, that’s why we are here.
“But obviously, in terms of a package, I think Mercedes have the most competitive package,” said Vettel, who retired early in the season-opener in Melbourne two weeks ago.
Vettel can consider himself lucky to bag a front row start as there were a few worrying moments at the start of qualifying when his Red Bull car was hit with yet another problem.
An engine issue in Melbourne meant Vettel was down on power in qualifying and was unable to progress to Q3.
It looked as if it could all be over in Q1 in Sepang this time. Heading out for his first laps in the delayed session, Vettel was told to “box, we have a problem with the car”.
But it turned out to be a minor problem. After a reset, he was back out on the track and easily made his way to Q3 later.
“At the beginning of Q1, the heartbeat was rising very quickly when we realised there was an issue.
“I came in, we restarted the car and that seemed to solve the problem. After that it was fine.
“We went out to get another feel for the car in wet conditions,” said Vettel, who felt that he could have gone faster.
“Q3 was not perfect. I would have loved to have had a second go.
“My first attempt, I felt there was time to gain here and there. It was very close, too close.”