Defending champion Sebastian Vettel will begin the Malaysian Grand Prix on pole, after producing a dramatic display in the closing moments of a wet Q3 session in Sepang on Saturday 23 March. The Red Bull driver clocked the top time to see off competition from Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Fernado Alonso, who finished second and third.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, flanked by Ferrari's Felipe Massa (L) and Fernando Alonso

Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last week, has been handed a three-place grid penalty. The Lotus driver was judged to have blocked Mercedes' Nico Rosberg during qualifying and will now have to the start the race from 10th, having posted the seventh-fastest time.

Going into the race, Raikkonen leads the Drivers' Championship table with 25 points, followed by Alonso with 18 and Vettel with 15. Meanwhile, in the Constructors' Championship, Ferrari lead with 30 points, followed by Lotus on 26 and Red Bull on 23.

Where to Watch Live

The race starts at 8am GMT, with Sky Sports F1 HD providing live coverage in the UK. Radio commentary is available on BBC Radio 5 Live, and live and free text updates are available through the Live Timing section on the sport's official website. Watch the race highlights on BBC One and BBC One HD at 2.30pm GMT.

Track Facts

  • Circuit Name: Sepang International Circuit
  • First F1 Race: 1999
  • Circuit Length: 5.54 km
  • Number of Laps: 56
  • Race Distance: 310.41 km
  • Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 1:40.722
  • Most Wins: Ferrari (6)
  • 2012 Winner: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
  • 2012 Pole: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

Qualifying Review

Q1 began in even hotter conditions than Practice 3, with a track temperature of 41 degrees Celsius. The rain showed no signs of receding as the drivers entered Q3, though the track and ambient temperatures remained the same, and intermediate tyres were deployed.

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel during the qualifying session

Vettel, who had posted the top time in Practice 3, again emerged the quickest. The German came up with a spectacular lap in the final session to finish almost a second faster than Massa. Alonso was the third fastest and would be joined on the second row of the race grid by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who was fourth.

Red Bull's Mark Webber and Mercedes' Rosberg took the fifth and sixth spots. Raikkonen finished seventh but was pegged back by a three-place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg. The top 10 times were completed by McLaren duo Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, who sandwiched Force India's Adrian Sutil.

Weather Forecast

The forecast for the race day is peak temperature of 33 degrees Celsius, humidity levels at around 66 per cent and low wind speeds. In addition to the changeable weather, there is also a probability of a storm. However, storms do not last long in this part of the world and usually happen late in the day. So even if it hits Sepang on Sunday, it's likely to be outside race time.

Teams have to find a way to cope with the hot and humid conditions. Ground temperatures can exceed 50 degrees Celsius during the day. Hard and medium compounds are expected for the race, though the intermediates and full wet tyres are available if teams need them.

Top 10 Grid Positions

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

2. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

3. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

5. Mark Webber (Red Bull)

6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

7. Jenson Button (McLaren)

8. Adrian Sutil (Force India)

9. Sergio Perez (McLaren)

10. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)