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As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
The Malaysian flag flies over Sepang
The Malaysian flag flies over Sepang © Sutton
07:45 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live for continuing coverage of the third round in the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The practice sessions have been completed, and now it is time to qualify for the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

The teams buckled down to serious work during final practice in dry conditions and we are set for a great qualifying battle.

Before qualifying, we will review the final practice session, look at the head-to-head qualifying battle within the teams and take a detailed look at the latest weather.

Webber bounced back from a troubled Friday to top the times this morning
Webber bounced back from a troubled Friday to top the times this morning © Sutton
07:46 Mark Webber shrugged off his Friday engine woes to grab the top spot in a busy final practice session earlier today.

The Red Bull driver lost a full hour of track time yesterday, so predictably was one of the first onto the 5.543 km circuit today. His initial pace looked very strong, but Lewis Hamilton wasn't going down without a fight.

The Briton established himself at the head of the list with a time of 1m33.559s - a mark that Webber shaded in last few minutes by 0.017s. Sebastian Vettel joined the party, also posting a 1m33.5s lap, setting up the prospect of a close battle for pole today.

Fernando Alonso will be keen to join that battle and the Spaniard was just two-tenths of a second away this morning, with Mercedes drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg also in the hunt. Button and Massa completed the top eight.

Webber edges Hamilton in practice

07:48 A sunny morning was followed by showers that dodged around the circuit during the final practice session.

Since the end of practice, showers have continued building steadily to the east and it looks likely that the qualifying session will see rain at some stage.

We are watching the airport radar and will update you through the course of the session regarding any advancing thundery showers.

The maximum temperature peaked at 32 degrees Celsius earlier this afternoon, but with a lack of sunshine that figure is beginning to drop slowly.

Plenty of grandstand space for fans
Plenty of grandstand space for fans © Sutton
07:49 Motor racing enthusiasts love to debate and discuss the action on track, and the live forum at the bottom of the screen is your chance to let everyone know your thoughts on events as they unfold at the circuit.

• Do you want to see a rain-affected session to shake up the grid order?

• Who will keep it together to claim pole position at Sepang?

• If it rains, can you see any of the new team drivers making it into the second phase of qualifying?

Tell the world what you think.

Click the SHOW LIVE FORUM link in the red bar at the bottom of your browser window if you'd like to join the debate.

07:50 Here is a look at how the qualifying battle is shaping up within each team early in the season:
Qualifying head-to-head

Button          1 - 1      Hamilton
Schumacher	0 - 2      Rosberg
Vettel		2 - 0      Webber
Massa		1 - 1      Alonso
Barrichello	2 - 0      Hulkenberg
Kubica		2 - 0      Petrov
Sutil		2 - 0      Liuzzi
Buemi	        2 - 0      Alguersuari
Trulli		1 - 1      Kovalainen
Chandhok	0 - 2      Senna
De la Rosa	2 - 0	   Kobayashi
Glock		2 - 0 	   Di Grassi
Extreme wets may be needed today
Full wets could make an appearance this afternoon, if heavy showers arrive © Sutton
07:52 The weather is likely to play a major role in the outcome of today's qualifying session, which is all set up to be another Saturday afternoon thriller.

Grip levels are set to change dramatically if showers arrive and then the outcome of each period may reflect the order of drivers completing laps with the best of the track conditions.

The teams also have to lock-off the set-up of their machines when parc ferme commences at the start of the session. After fully dry practice sessions, this will be a difficult decision for the engineers with heavy cars and more rain in prospect for tomorrow.

Conservation of the sets of wet tyres is also likely to be on the mind of the race engineers this afternoon - teams will be keen to have at least some fresh wet rubber in the garage for Sunday's repeat of this late-afternoon rain.

The drivers also need to be careful not to spin off if conditions do get tricky. Any car that stops on the circuit will take no further part in the session.

07:53 Heavy rain is now falling at Sepang, just minutes before the session.

07:54 The track surface is becoming damp very quickly. This will send the pitlane into chaos.

07:56 With heavy rain still falling, rapidly wetting the circuit, the track temperature is 33 Celsius.

07:56 There will undoubtedly be a huge rush of cars onto the circuit at the start of the session. The out-lap could become a race in its own right.

07:56 The teams will plan to scramble on intermediates but this rain is lashing the circuit and it will soon be very wet.

07:58 There is a tense atmosphere in the pitlane as this will be a very difficult session for the teams to handle.

07:58 Nico Hulkenberg is told over the team radio that this rain will last for another 15 minutes.

07:59 It will be important for everyone to bank the best possible time just incase the circuit gets worse rather than better.

07:59 Hulkenberg's race engineer adds that behind this shower is a clear period for around 30 minutes.

0 min: The 20-minute scrap for a place in the final 17 is underway.

0 min: Rosberg waits with no tyres yet fitted to the Mercedes.

0 min: Kobayashi leads a train of cars out on intermediate tyres.

0 min: Half the field immediately exit the pits to get a run in what we think could be the driest conditions of this first period.

1 min: These are very tricky moments for the drivers as they feel out grip levels on intermediates for the first time this weekend.

1 min: Many of the leading contenders are waiting in the pits for now, trusting the radar that does show a clearing later in the session.

1 min: Sebastian Vettel comes out in the Red Bull. He joins Hulkenberg, Sutil, Liuzzi, Buemi, Alguersuari and both HRT drivers on the circuit.

2 min: There are problems for Lucas di Grassi in the Virgin, with his car still being worked on in the garage.

2 min: Sebastien Buemi crosses the line to begin the first timed lap of the qualifying session.

3 min: Buemi is getting good traction out of Turn 4 and he continues round on this opening timed attempt. 15 drivers are on track.

3 min: The back side of the circuit looks quite dry, as Buemi comes through Turns 10, 11 and 12.

3 min: Intermediates are the ideal tyre for these conditions, with the amount of water around the circuit varying quite a bit.

4 min: Buemi crosses the line in 1m48.945s in the Toro Rosso.

4 min: Petrov has taken a spin in his Renault in the first complex of corners but he is back underway.

4 min: De la Rosa and Kobayashi slot in second and third in the early order.

5 min: Alguersuari is fourth with Hulkenberg fifth and Glock sixth.

5 min: Sutil goes third with Force India team-mate Liuzzi in fourth and Vettel is fifth after his first effort.

5 min: Robert Kubica is on for a good lap in his Renault and clocks a 1m47.520s to top the order, despite having to hacksaw at the wheel of his car to make the final turn.

6 min: Sebastien Buemi has skated off the road at Turn 15 as he tried to complete a second timed lap. He recovers and stays out.

6 min: De la Rosa beats Kubica's benchmark with a 1m47.153s.

6 min: Michael Schumacher comes out with intermediate tyres bolted onto the Mercedes.

7 min: The shower has eased in recent minutes and the big guns are clearly hoping to save tyres with only a late run.

7 min: The McLarens of Hamilton and Button are now on track.

7 min: Vettel does another lap and moves up to third place behind de la Rosa and Kubica with a 1m47.632s effort.

7 min: Kubica is back on top of the pile as he finds a 1m46.283s as track conditions slowly begin to improve.

8 min: Di Grassi's car remains under repair in the Virgin garage and the Brazilian is in serious trouble here.

8 min: The heavy rain has returned and this could be bad news for the gamblers who stayed in the pits.

9 min: Tonio Liuzzi has spun and recovered brilliantly at Turn 7. He continued and has stayed out on this run.

9 min: Bruno Senna flies off the road in the HRT. He has lost the engine and is out of the session.

9 min: We could be in for some shock eliminations here with the drivers yet to set times struggling for pace as the track deteriorates again.

10 min: Button and Hamilton are over a second off Kubica's pace through the first sector.

10 min: Schumacher, Rosberg and Webber are all on their first timed lap now. It will be very interesting to see where they end up.

10 min: Button's first time is a 1m52.211s to go 12th.

11 min: Hamilton has spun at the final corner in his McLaren but does get going again.

11 min: Schumacher goes 13th in the standings as the rain gets heavier! The German posts 1m52.239s.

11 min: It is very tricky out there and Hamilton is yet to set a time.

11 min: Jenson Button spins into the gravel and the world champion is out of qualifying!

12 min: There is no chance of Button getting out from deep in the Turn 6 gravel.

12 min: The order is still Kubica from de la Rosa, Vettel, Petrov, Kobayashi and Alguersuari as this amazing session continues.

13 min: Yellow flags are hampering other drivers now.

13 min: Lucas di Grassi is struggling with problems in the pits and stands no chance of progressing. Hamilton is down in 23rd position!

14 min: The drivers who went early are sitting pretty at the top of the timesheet with Kubica, De la Rosa, Vettel, Petrov, Kobayashi and Alguersuari the top six.

14 min: Both Ferraris are in the dropzone. Massa, Alonso, Chandhok and Senna join Hamilton and di Grassi at the bottom of the list.

15 min: Conditions are clearly worse than when those leading times and extreme wet rubber is clearly needed.

15 min: Button remains in 13th from his first completed laptime but will clearly take no part in Q2, even if he makes it through.

16 min: Lewis Hamilton needs to produce a banzai effort to make it through to the next stage of qualifying. He needs to find seven seconds.

17 min: The rain does appear to have eased again but these leading teams have clearly got it wrong by not taking part in the dryer spell early on.

17 min: The order at the bottom is Rosberg 16th, Kovalainen 17th, Trulli 18th, Massa 19th, Alonso 20th, Chandhok 21st, then Senna 22nd.

17 min: Hamilton is 23rd and on another lap but it is slow. He has just two minutes remaining and needs to find seven seconds to reach 1m52.874s.

18 min: Red Bull sent both its drivers just before the deluge and they are secure for the moment in the top 17.

19 min: Those not under threat are wisely in the garage as we look set to form a sensational grid in Malaysia.

19 min: Fernando Alonso spins on his latest effort to dig himself out of 21st position. He needs to find one second and will have one more lap.

19 min: Hamilton crosses the line in 1m54.126s to move up to 21st position. He needs to find another 1.4 seconds.

08:20 The flag is out and there are set to be some amazing victims of the Malaysian rain.

08:20 Hamilton and Alonso are dead level at 28.0 seconds in the first sector as they look to make a lap time of 1m 52s.

08:21 Alonso crosses the line for the final time ... the time is 1m53.044s. He is out!

08:22 Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa did not manage to beat Kovalainen's time either. Both are out and the Lotus is through.

08:23 Button goes through in 13th but that costly spin for the world champion mean he won't be out in Q2 and will still start 17th.

08:23 The first period of qualifying has been completed. The following seven drivers have been eliminated:

18) Trulli
19) Alonso
20) Hamilton
21) Massa
22) Chandhok
23) Senna
24) Di Grassi.

08:24 The Mercedes pair of Schumacher and Rosberg just got through as they started intermediate runs just before the circuit got much worse.

08:24 Virgin Racing also progress through to the second stage for the first time. Timo Glock ended the first period safe in 15th position.

08:25 McLaren and Ferrari will have a lot to answer for in failing to send their drivers when the track was much better as the session began.

08:26 Convective showers bubbling up in the area have a habit of striking a wider area than expected as they expand.

08:26 The airport weather radar tells us that further heavy rain could be on the way before the end of qualifying.

08:27 Nevertheless, Button, Alonso, Hamilton and Massa all at the back of the grid is a mouthwatering prospect for tomorrow.

0 min: A tight scramble for the top ten has started.

0 min: Extreme wets are the tyre of choice to begin the session.

0 min: Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi join Vitaly Petrov on the circuit.

1 min: Everyone is scrambling straight out, learning from those serious mistakes in the first segment.

2 min: Michael Schumacher is told over the team radio that there could be rain in the next two minutes.

2 min: The onus is on the drivers to clock a time before the next hefty shower reaches the circuit.

2 min: All 16 cars that are taking part are on the circuit, trying to get a good time on the board before the heavens open.

3 min: The track is quite dry in places, but Petrov is risking it all on intermediates.

3 min: Tonio Liuzzi is very quick on his extreme wet tyres as the first laps are in progress.

3 min: Sutil is also looking quick as Force India makes a challenge towards the front.

3 min: Some parts of the track are ideal for intermediate rubber, while others are still very wet.

4 min: Petrov keeps it on the road to clock a 1m53.730s.

4 min: Adrian Sutil Immediately beats Petrov by a full second. Liuzzi is also quicker than the Russian.

4 min: Michael Schumacher posts a 1m50.611s to top the board with Vettel moving into second place.

5 min: Kubica has extreme wets on his Renault and slots in second quickest in a rapidly evolving timesheet.

5 min: The order is Schumacher ahead of Kubica, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Vettel, Webber and Sutil after the first timed lap.

5 min: Timo Glock has spun his Virgin at Turn 8 but is back underway.

6 min: Petrov is doing good work on intermediates and goes second quickest.

6 min: Sutil and Liuzzi are straight back into the pits after a run featuring one flying lap. They are 11th and 13th.

7 min: While we await the next heavy shower, intermediates now look like the tyre of choice.

7 min: The Force India drivers have come in for a set of intermediate tyres, ditching the full wets.

7 min: Ferrari admit their Q1 mistake: "there is not too much to say, we waited too long in the garage and, together with others, we made a mistake which was paid highly"

8 min: Petrov continues to impress on his intermediates as he tops the order with a 1m48.760s

8 min: Michael Schumacher is on intermediates now and is immediately quick - on top now with a 1m48.643s.

9 min: 15 drivers have set a time so far. Alguersuari, Sutil, Liuzzi, Kovalainen and Buemi run in 11th to 15th positions.

9 min: The order is Schumacher from Petrov, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Kubica and Rosberg but it is all set to change as they move to intermediates.

9 min: Glock is 16th and now on his first timed lap. Button is 17th and will remain there after spinning in Q1.

9 min: Lightning is seen very close to the circuit and a massive deluge is imminent.

10 min: Adrian Sutil looks like he could get out of the dropzone. He does and moves up to third place.

11 min: Vettel puts his Red Bull on top with a 1m47.003s, with the Williams pair of Hulkevberg and Barrichello next up.

11 min: Kubica is the next man to take the ever-changing top time with a 1m46.951s.

11 min: Liuzzi also climbed out of the dropzone. Now we have Kobayashi, de la Rosa, Glock, Alguersuari, Kovalainen and Buemi filling places 11 to 16.

11 min: Rosberg is up to third quickest in his Mercedes.

11 min: The rain is moving in over the circuit.

12 min: Vettel takes back the top time with a 1m46.828s.

12 min: Kobayashi posts a 1m47.792s to move out of the dropzone and into sixth.

12 min: Now it's Vettel from Kubica, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Rosberg and Kobayashi as rain starts to hit the track.

13 min: Mark Webber is now in the dropzone in 12th following recent improvements from others.

13 min: All drivers are on improving first sectors and a major shake up is on despite the incoming rain.

13 min: Mark Webber could be the story of Q2 but he sets the fastest first sector time. He needs just one-tenth of a second to move into the top ten.

13 min: Just over a minute to the flag in a breathless Q2.

14 min: Webber is very quick and looks certain to move up - providing he keeps it together.

14 min: Vettel and Kubica fail to improve as rain wets the final sector.

14 min: Webber crosses the line and moves up to seventh place with a 1m48.210s.

15 min: Schumacher is now tenth and needs a good lap to escape the drop.

15 min: The segment is over. Who can make the top ten?

08:42 Schumacher is quick in the first sector and on course so far to move up the order.

08:43 Heavy rain now hitting in some parts of the track as lightning strikes nearby.

08:43 Buemi is quick and could spoil Schumacher's day if he does not improve.

08:44 Schumacher stays tenth and now Mercedes wait to see if Buemi can beat his time. He can't. Buemi stays 13th.

08:44 Vettel tops Q2 from Kubica, Sutil, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Kobayashi, Webber, Liuzzi, Barrchiello and Schumacher.

08:44 There is a chance that Q3 could be delayed if this major shower moves over the track.

08:45 The second phase of qualifying has been completed. The following seven drivers have been eliminated:

11) Petrov
12) De la Rosa
13) Buemi
14) Alguersuari
15) Kovalainen
16) Glock
17) Button.

08:46 This is a great day for Force India and Williams with both teams getting their drivers through in the top ten.

08:46 The latest radar information tells us that heavy rain is imminent. The battle for the top ten should be electrifying.

08:47 The rain is holding off for the moment but could strike at any time.

08:48 These ten drivers have made it through to the final shootout:

Sebastian Vettel
Robert Kubica
Adrian Sutil
Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Rosberg
Kamui Kobayashi
Mark Webber
Tonio Liuzzi
Rubens Barrichello
Michael Schumacher.

08:48 With Q3 just two minutes away, it is set to begin with a scramble for a time.

08:49 Massive rain is right on the circuit according to the radar.

08:49 A huge downpour strikes moments before Q3!

08:50 There is very heavy rain falling as the Q3 scramble begins on extreme wets.

0 min: All the cars will scramble to try and set a time but it looks like the track will soon be very difficult to drive.

0 min: Kubica barged past the queue at the end of the pitlane and heads the train of cars.

1 min: Track conditions are deteriorating rapidly.

1 min: The visibility is appalling for Sutil is he navigates his Force India powerboat around Sepang.

2 min: There are sure to be victims of this session very soon with horrible track conditions now developing.

2 min: The drivers have little chance to get a proper lap in, in these conditions. Over the line they come to start a timed lap.

2 min: Kubica is over the line and going for a time as heavy rain falls all around the track.

2 min: The session has been stopped.

08:53 Conditions are just too dangerous to continue safely.

08:53 Clearly it was unsafe for the session to continue with these treacherous conditions and heavy standing water.

08:53 There are 7m17s on the clock, which is suspended by the red flag.

08:54 No times are on the board at this point.

08:54 The drivers are now slowly making their way back to the pits.

08:55 There is a phenomenal downpour striking the circuit from a sizable thunder cell.

08:56 All ten drivers have made it back to the pits safely. Race control issue a message saying "Indefinite delay."

08:57 Most drivers will remain in their cars to ready themselves for action when the circuit finally drains.

08:57 Race control message: Five minutes notice will be given before a re-start.

08:59 Vettel tells his engineers that conditions were "ridiculous" and asks them if they can see why he is getting cold in the car.

09:00 Michael Schumacher has climbed out of the Mercedes and the mechanics are changing his seat.

09:01 Barrichello has jumped out of his Williams to let the mechanics dry the car as outside the rain has eased a little.

09:02 Adrian Sutil is told over the team radio that he has the speed to be up there in this session - when it restarts.

09:03 The rain has eased off for the time being, but further downpours are due soon.

09:04 The heavy standing water will take time to drain, so a restart will be some time off yet, even if the following showers miss the track.

09:05 The session will restart in five minutes time.

09:06 Race control are hoping to squeeze in the remaining part of the session before the next wave of heavy rain hits the track.

09:06 There is still a lot of standing water and light rain falling.

09:06 Clearly this will be a massive scramble to set a time on extreme wet rubber.

09:07 Liuzzi is touring down the pitlane to put himself in pole at the end of the pitlane.

09:08 Adrian Sutil joins him. They have made sure they are at the front of the queue.

09:08 Liuzzi and Sutil are on full wet tyres with still at least one minute to go before qualifying resumes.

09:08 There are still thundery clouds overhead, threatening another downpour.

09:09 Liuzzi is told over the team radio that Sutil is allowed to start alongside him, but he (Liuzzi) will get to Turn 1 first.

2 min: The next batch of rain is due in a few minutes.

2 min: The session has restarted.

3 min: Liuzzi does win the race to Turn 1 and leads team-mate Sutil around the circuit. All ten drivers are out there.

3 min: The circuit is at least drivable on extreme wet rubber but there are tricky puddles to catch out the drivers.

3 min: The Force India duo are on the penultimate straight and ready to start the first timed laps.

4 min: Kubica is leading Schumacher around to the line.

4 min: The Renault starts his flyer. Teams must surely plan to run on to the flag, changing tyres if they need to.

5 min: Nico Rosberg is extremely quick on his lap out of the pits, as the Force India pair continue on their timed lap.

5 min: Webber is making a bold gamble with Intermediate rubber on his Red Bull.

5 min: Adrian Sutil is the quickest so far in the first two sectors of the lap. Sutil is poised to put a marker down for the rest.

5 min: Webber is slow through the first sector on tyres that are less than ideal unless the track drains more.

6 min: Liuzzi posts 1m52.501s but Sutil beats him with 1m51.238s.

6 min: Hulkenberg goes second with 1m51.547s.

6 min: Vettel ends his first flyer with a 1m51.794s but it is only enough for sixth.

7 min: Michael Schumacher posts 1m51.717s and that is only fifth so far.

7 min: The order is Sutil from Kubica, Hulkenberg, Barrichello, Schumacher, Vettel and Liuzzi after one timed lap.

7 min: Webber is in the 1m54s with his intermediates, but is fastest through the middle sector.

8 min: Sutil extends his advantage at the top of the order with 1m50.914s in the Force India.

8 min: Kubica is now third with a 1m51.051s.

8 min: Hulkenberg improves to second place with a 1m51.001s in the Williams.

8 min: Webber's gamble pays off as his Intermediates put him on top with a 1m50.451s.

8 min: Nico Rosberg is now second behind Webber with 1m50.673s.

9 min: That time from Webber will be hard for the others to match now as the rain just holds off.

09:17 Sutil is down to fourth with Hulkenberg fifth, Kubica sixth and Schumacher down in eighth.

09:17 Chequred flag, but the laps continue ...

09:18 Nico Hulkenberg does not improve on his latest flyer and stays fifth.

09:18 Webber is considerably quicker in the middle sector as his intermediates gamble looks set to give him the pole.

09:18 Webber is across the line and firmly on pole for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

09:19 The Australian trounces the opposition by 1.3 seconds - a stunning performance.

09:20 Nico Rosberg grabs second place and will start on the front row of the grid. Vettel will start the race from third with Sutil fourth.

09:20 Nico Hulkenberg nets a career-best fifth for Williams with Robert Kubica sixth for Renault.

09:21 Old sparring partners Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher will start from seventh and eighth positions.

09:21 Webber is delighted with his performance and his gamble on intermediates has paid off handsomely with his second career pole.

09:21 Kamui Kobayashi was ninth on a great day for the Sauber team after the troubles of Australia. Tonio Liuzzi rounds out the top ten.

09:23 Here's the report and times from a dramatic qualifying session:

Webber on pole in disrupted qualifying

09:27 What a grid we have for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix!

Red Bull comes through the weather carnage to take first and third on the grid. We have the prospect of Sutil and Hulkenberg mixing it up near the front.

But look at the casualty list - Michael Schumacher in eighth, world champion Jenson Button 17th, Alonso 19th, Hamilton 20th and Massa in 21st.

This will at least take care of the overtaking grumbles for another two weeks.

We have a great race in prospect. Make sure you don't miss it by joining us here on AUTOSPORT Live for all the build-up tomorrow from 06:30 GMT.

Session length: 60 minutes
Overcast High Temp: 30°C / 86°F
Track: Very wet
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Monday 29 Mar Start GMT
 Malaysian Grand Prix Weather 15:00
Friday 02 Apr
 Friday Morning Practice 01:45
 Friday Afternoon Practice 05:45
Saturday 03 Apr
 Saturday Practice 04:45
 Qualifying 07:45
Sunday 04 Apr
 Race day at Sepang 06:30