Daniel and Dany took full advantage of a rain-hit qualifying to claim fourth and fifth places on the grid respectively for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position.
It was a good day for the Red Bull Junior programme with four graduates in the top six, as Sebastian Vettel finished in second place and Toro Rosso's teen sensation Max Verstappen qualified in sixth place behind Dany. Prior to the start of qualifying ominous storm clouds had begun to gather over Sepang Circuit and race control was putting the risk of rain in the session at 60 per cent.
Q1 remained dry, however, and Daniel and Dany made short work of carving their way through to the second segment. Daniel finished the opening 18-minute session in 10th place, eight tenths of a second clear of the 16th-placed drop zone time set by Sauber's Felipe Nasr. It was similarly comfortable for Dany, with the young Russian making it through just four hundredths adrift of his team-mate.
Eliminated along with Nasr were the McLarens of Jenson Button (P17) and Fernando Alonso (P18) and the Manor cars of Roberto Mehri and Will Stevens. While Mehri finished with a best time of 1:46.677, Stevens was not able to take part in the session as he was restricted to the garage with a technical problem. Both ended the session outside the required 107 per cent time and required a stewards' dispensation for their places on tomorrow's starting grid.
As the threat of rain grew, Q2 began with a flurry of activity as teams rushed to get their drivers on track in pursuit of a banker lap in dry conditions. Again both of our drivers managed to get the job done, with Daniel claiming his Q3 berth with a time of 1:41.085 and Dany in ninth place with a time of 1:41.665.
The torrential rain made any further improvement in the segment impossible and the session ebbed away as the downpour continued. Thus, out went Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, followed in turn by Lotus' Pastor Maldonado, the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez and the unfortunate Carlos Sainz. The Toro Rosso driver admitted to a "rookie mistake" when he locked up in Turn 14 just as the rain started and he lost out on an opportunity to set a good lap.
After the Q2 chequered flag there was a 35-minute hiatus as race officials waited for the rain to clear and for the track to improve. When the session got underway, Hamilton immediately claimed provisional pole with his first flying run. Daniel claimed fifth with his first run, behind Verstappen, with Dany sixth.
Both were able to build on their pace in the final runs and the Toro Rosso driver was displaced. Ahead, Hamilton failed to improve in his final run but Rosberg only marginally bettered his first time and offered no threat. Vettel though found a burst of extra pace to claim second place. Behind Verstappen, Williams' Felipe Massa was seventh ahead of Lotus' Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman was demoted to 10th place after the session, however, as punishment for a pit lane infringement. That means that Valtteri Bottas will start eighth and Marcus Ericsson ninth.
After the session, Daniel said that fourth is a "decent result" for the team."We've always gone pretty well in the wet and there are still some things we can improve, but fourth is a good result for the team," he said. "The second row is a good starting position and we should hopefully have some battles tomorrow.
"We're behind Mercedes and Ferrari, but we are ahead of the Williams and the conditions were tricky, so that's good, step by step we are improving and heading in the right direction. Tyre degradation will be high, so it will probably be a three-stop race tomorrow. If we can finish in the top four, that will be good."
Dany agreed, although the Russian felt that he might have waited a little longer to start his final run."It was a decent qualifying for us, P4 and P5 is good for the team but I think on our lap we maybe went out a little early, it might have been better later on but it's hard always to know with the conditions. Overall, there are a lot of positives to take from this weekend and we are seeing some improvements, it's a good start."