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As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton, Emlyn Hughes and Simon Strang
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
07:50 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live for continuing coverage from the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend at Sepang - round two of the 2012 FIA Formula 1 world championship.

07:51 Final practice started off on the wrong note for Nico Rosberg earlier today, as he watched the rest of the field start the session without him while his Mercedes mechanics fixed an engine issue.

Fast forward 60 minutes and the German posted 1m36.877s to top the timesheet ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Rosberg fastest in final Sepang practice

07:53 Conditions have improved markedly since the end of practice and there is blazing sunshine over the circuit.

Air temperature is up to 31 degrees and while sotmrs are expected, it looks increasingly likely that they will arrive only after the session.

07:55 Motor racing fans 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.

• Who will join the HRT and Marussia drivers on the sidelines at the end of Q1? More to the point, will Karthikeyan and de la Rosa beat 107%?

• Will both Ferrari drivers make past the tricky Q2 hurdle and get into the shootout?

• Who do you think will take pole position for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix?

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.

07:57 Here is how the qualifying battle is looking after the first round:
Qualifying head-to-head

Vettel         0 - 1     Webber
Button         0 - 1     Hamilton
Alonso         1 - 0     Massa
Schumacher     1 - 0     Rosberg
Raikkonen      0 - 1     Grosjean
Di Resta       0 - 1     Hulkenberg
Kobayashi      1 - 0     Perez
Ricciardo      1 - 0     Vergne
Maldonado      1 - 0     Senna
Kovalainen     1 - 0     Petrov
De la Rosa     1 - 0     Karthikeyan
Glock          1 - 0     Pic
07:58 Red Bull is still tinkering and tweaking it's front wing assembly with just a couple of minutes to go.

07:58 Adrian Newey is down there directing proceedings, to try and give drivers Webber and Vettel as good a chance as possible at grabbing a spot at the front of the grid.

07:58 Pirelli's tyre supply is the medium and hard compounds, with the softer of the two as ever proving faster over a single flying lap.

07:59 Daniel Ricciardo is grabbing some cool air before putting his crash helmet on and getting ready for a run on the circuit.

0 min: Qualifying begins in Malaysia.

0 min: The harder rubber does look like an ideal race tyre thanks to greater durability, so leading teams will be keen to save those as well.

0 min: No immediate takers in the opening seconds. Meantime, Petrov is adviseed on the radio that there is some bad weather a few kilometres away.

1 min: Caterham tels the Russian that it is monitoring the radar to see which way the showers are moving.

1 min: Pic is the first man on track as he attempts to qualify the Marussia.

1 min: Di Resta joins him onto the circuit in the Force India.

2 min: Glock is also on track with the softer tyres on his car.

2 min: Raikkonen and Grosjean take to the circuit with harder tyres on the Lotus cars.

2 min: Hulkenberg, Maldonado, Senna and Vergne join the racetrack.

3 min: Alonso is opting for the softer rubber on his Ferrari for this run.

3 min: Button and Hamilton join the action for McLaren, with both using the harder Pirelli for a first outing.

4 min: Di Resta gets the ball rolling with a time of 1m38.927s.

5 min: Kimi Raikkonen, remember will have to take a five place penalty today after taking a gearbox change yesterday. But that isn't where the dramas have stopped for Lotus. A fire in its hospitality unit over night forced the team to move down to the bottom of the paddock this morning - the significant damage included one of Kimi's spare helmets being junked!

5 min: Pic and Glock join the timesheet second and third as the opening laps continue.

5 min: Vettel, Webber, Schumacher and Rosberg are all on track for a first run.

5 min: Maldonado goes second with a lap of 1m38.190s.

5 min: Hamilton is now in the middle part of the lap where the areodynamics of the latest McLaren have been working well this weekend.

6 min: A minor lock-up for Hamilton into the final corner but sets the pace at a 1m37.904s.

7 min: Raikkonen is up to second quickest in his Lotus, but does face a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

7 min: Hulkenberg goes ninth with his first effort - 1m38.497s.

7 min: Button is briefly on top of the order...

7 min: Rosberg shoots straight to the top of the list with 1m37.696s in the Mercedes.

8 min: Button is quickly dropped to second with Hamilton third, Raikkonen fourth and Alonso in fifth.

8 min: Schumacher now puts the other Mercedes on top with a lap of 1m37.538s. One-two for the moment.

9 min: Vettel rounds the final corner and posts 1m45.287s after completing a slow lap.

9 min: Massa clocks a 1m39s lap and goes only 17th. The Brazilian is under pressure already in this segment.

10 min: Webber goes 11th with his first effort - 1m38.560s.

10 min: Button clocks the fastest middle sector and is gunning for the Mercedes pair. He splits them and goes second fastest.

10 min: Vettel is on a quicker lap now as you would expect. He moves into seventh spot with a time of 1m38.102s.

11 min: Meanwhile, Hamilton has braked a little late for Turn 4, making his escape through the run-off.

11 min: Webber goes on for another timed lap, but he does not improve. He has slipped to 12th.

12 min: Hamilton improves his best to a 1m37.813s but remains fourth.

13 min: All 24 drivers have now posted a time on the board. Massa, Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock, Pic, de la Rosa and Karthikeyan are in the dropzone.

13 min: Worried faces at Ferrari as Massa returns to the garage in a lowly 18th place. He needs to improve significantly to escape the drop.

13 min: Webber improves on his third timed lap, but only to 12th place with a time of 1m38.560s.

14 min: Button reports his tyres beginning to fade on the third lap, particularly braking for Turn 4, where team-mate Hamilton left the road

14 min: Alonso, in eighth, is heading out on the softer tyres while Massa begins a high-pressure attempt to escape elimination.

15 min: Ricciardo and Vergne occupy 16th and 17th positions and will have to keep Massa and the rest at bay to ensure progression.

15 min: Off track big things have been happening as Bernie Ecclestone has announced that Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren have all agreed terms on a new Concorde Agreement. It is believed that not all the teams are on board with it yet...

15 min: Senna is 15th and he joins the two Toro Rosso drivers on track.

16 min: Massa is just a tenth inside the cut at the end of the first sector.

16 min: The top seven drivers are still in the garage and are able to save tyres now.

16 min: With several drivers ahead also on option tyres, Massa needs more than he is delivering at the moment to be sure of making Q2.

17 min: So we have Webber in 12th, di Resta 13th, Perez 14th, Senna 15th, the two Toro Rosso drivers and Massa all scrambling to make sure they progress.

17 min: Massa clocks a 1m38.381s to go 11th for the moment after running a little wide at the final turn.

17 min: Maldonado jumps up to fourth place with a lap of 1m37.789s.

18 min: Massa is quickly down to 13th as laps are completed by the competitive midfield pack.

18 min: Webber is down to 15th and just into another flying lap.

18 min: Perez has slipped to 16th in his Sauber and needs to improve on his latest effort.

18 min: Senna locks up on his first flyer and is 15th, with Webber still on that lap but 16th in the classification.

19 min: Webber is on a much quicker lap and posts the fastest middle sector. He is on his way to safety.

19 min: Perez moves all the way up to sixth on his softer tyres.

19 min: The flag is out on Q1.

08:20 Vergne is 18th, as Webber crosses the line and ... yes, he goes quickest of all on hard compound tyres with a lap of 1m37.172s.

08:20 Vergne comes into the pits and he is eliminated.

08:21 Massa ends up 15th as the pace of the Toro Rosso pair fails to materialise in the first segment.

08:21 Karthikeyan is on his final lap now and looking to jump team-mate de la Rosa.

08:21 The Indian makes a mess of Turn 15 and does not improve. He remains 24th and last.

08:21 @OfficialSF1Team is happy with that: Comfortably through to Q2. @SChecoPerez P7 and @kamui_kobayashi P14!

08:22 The first qualifying period has been completed. The following seven drivers are eliminated:

18) Vergne
19) Kovalainen
20) Petrov
21) Glock
22) Pic
23) de la Rosa
24) Karthikeyan.

08:23 Jean Eric Vergne fails to make the cut by a large chunk in the end, around six-tenths of a second.

08:24 But it's better news for the HRT drivers. They make it well inside 107 percent and will take part in tomorrow's race - albeit from the back row of the grid.

08:24 Up front, Mercedes continues to look strong thanks to its rapid car down the two long straights while McLaren and Red Bull are faster in the middle part of the lap.

08:25 Massa, Ricciardo and Senna all escaped at the end of the 20-minute period, progressing through in 15th, 16th and 17th positions.

08:26 The 17 drivers that have made it through now face the next challenge. They have 15 minutes with the aim of making it into the top 10.

08:26 With many competitive cars in the midfield range it is all set up to be a tight scramble to make the pole shootout.

08:27 Michael Schumacher is fairly relaxed as he waits to get the action going once again.

0 min: Q2 begins in Malaysia.

1 min: Perez is the first man out with the medium compound tyres on his Sauber.

1 min: He is quickly joined by team-mate Kobayashi on similar tyres.

1 min: For those students of the lower formulae, Luiz Razia scored his first win since 2009 as Arden opened up the 2012 GP2 Series with a victory in Malaysia's feature race. It's also 27 years to the day since the inaugaral race of F1's previous feeder series Formula 3000, according to one of our resident stats gurus @henryhopefrost: On this day in 1985 Mike #Thackwell won the inaugural FIA Formula 3000 International race @SilverstoneUK in his Ralt RT20-Cosworth

2 min: Raikkonen and Alonso opt for the softer tyres as they join the circuit.

2 min: The McLaren pair also make the traditional choice of softer tyres for a Q2 attempt.

2 min: Webber, Rosberg, di Resta, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Maldonado and Senna all head out for a run.

3 min: Nico Hulkenberg is out there using a set of hard compound tyres.

3 min: Perez holds on to a bit of a wobble in his Sauber as he rounds Turn 4 on his first flying attempt.

3 min: Hulkenberg is the only one to go against the field in these early stages of Q2.

4 min: Grosjean remains in the garage for the moment, with the rest of the top 17 already looking to set a time.

4 min: Perez is the first to clock a lap but it is a slow 1m39s effort after that Turn 4 off.

5 min: Kobayashi is temporarily on top in 1m38.158s.

5 min: Lotus_F1Team reports in: "Kimi's out first for us, @RGrosjean is on a holding brief. Not holding briefs, this is no time for the weekly laundry"

5 min: There's a Williams off in the gravel and it's Maldonado. He has wrecked his first timed lap but rejoins the circuit.

5 min: Raikkonen is the next man to head the list with a quick 1m36.715s lap in the Lotus.

6 min: Button and Hamilton slot in second and third quickest for McLaren.

6 min: Vettel is fourth after his first timed lap with Schumacher fifth.

6 min: Alonso is a current seventh in his Ferrari.

7 min: Rosberg was very quick in his opening two sectors but had to back off for the yellow flags surrounding Maldonado's excursion.

7 min: Massa has gone ninth for Ferrari as the first round of laps draw to a close.

7 min: Hulkenberg and Senna also aborted their runs, electing to come into the pits.

8 min: Webber slots into fourth position behind Raikkonen, Button and Hamilton, with a lap of 1m37.375s.

8 min: Grosjean remains in the Lotus pit, while the other side of the garage must be delighted with Raikkonen's session-topping pace.

8 min: Maldonado made it back into the pits and the Williams mechanics are cleaning out the underside of the FW34 after his trip across the gravel.

9 min: And as we say that, off goes Grosjean to attempt a time in his Lotus.

9 min: Massa has slipped to 11th and is heading out to try and avoid elimination.

10 min: That five-place grid penalty for Raikkonen is beginning to look ever more disappointing...

10 min: Many of the top runners are in the pits, getting set for a final run in the remaining few minutes.

10 min: Grosjean finds a lack of rear grip in his Lotus as he rounds the first corner and this will not be a quick lap.

11 min: Senna comes out for a run. He has yet to set a time in this qualifying period.

11 min: A 1m37.338s lap puts Grosjean up to fourth but it could have been more without that wobble at Turn 1.

12 min: Ricciardo, Massa, Perez, di Resta, Hulkenberg, Maldonado and Senna are all in the dropzone, but several of these drivers have yet to post a time on the board.

12 min: Massa improves to a 1m37.731s for a current ninth but there are plenty more drivers still to make a second attempt.

12 min: Rosberg heads out for another run from seventh position.

13 min: Schumacher in eighth is also out there, as those in the dropzone start coming round to complete timed laps.

13 min: Alonso has now dropped to 11th but is on a better lap. He goes sixth with a much better effort of 1m37.379s.

14 min: Senna moves into 12th position with a time of 1m37.841s.

14 min: Perez puts his Sauber up to eighth, demoting Massa out of the top 10.

14 min: Di Resta goes 13th with 1m37.877s.

14 min: Rosberg and Schumacher have dropped down the list to 10th and 11th positions.

15 min: Kobayashi has a poor end to his lap and remains down in a disappointing 17th as the flag comes out.

08:42 Both Mercedes drivers are on a final lap now.

08:43 It's the Mercedes drivers versus Maldonado to get into Q3 and the silver cars are coming towards the line ...

08:43 Massa trails back into the Ferrari garage and begins to reflect on another Q2 elimination.

08:43 Rosberg goes third with 1m36.996s and is safe.

08:43 Schumacher goes fourth with 1m37.017s and gets in, eliminating Maldonado on the last lap.

08:45 The second qualifying period has been completed. The following seven drivers are eliminated:

11) Maldonado
12) Massa
13) Senna
14) di Resta
15) Ricciardo
16) Hulkenberg
17) Kobayashi.

08:45 Maldonado is last into the pitlane and he is left to reflect on being mugged by the Mercedes tag-team in the dying moments.

08:46 He fails to make it through to the shotout by just over one-tenth of a second.

08:47 Vettel played things cool at the end of Q2 and elected not to come out for another run while in seventh. He ended up ninth and only making it by just under two-tenths.

08:47 Times are very tight in the top 10, with Lotus, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull all with potential to fight for pole in Q3.

08:48 Disappointment for Toro Rosso. Ricciardo finished up 15th and Vergne was eliminated in Q1. Last weekend must seem like a long time ago already...

08:49 So these are the 10 drivers that have made it through to the shootout:

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton
Fernando Alonso
Michael Schumacher
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Raikkonen
Romain Grosjean
Sergio Perez.

0 min: The fight for pole is underway.

0 min: @InsideFerrari's response to Felipe Massa's failure to make Q3 for the second week running: "Considering the situation, Felipe did a reasonable job today."

0 min: Webber heads out for a run in the Red Bull RB8.

1 min: Raikkonen is the first man on track as he attempts to replicate a very strong Q2 lap.

1 min: Grosjean, Hamilton and Button now join the track for a first attempt.

1 min: Vettel joins his team-mate on track on what looks like the first of two runs.

2 min: Webber is advised on the team radio of a head wind into Turn 9 that becomes a tail wind as he brakes for the final corner.

2 min: Alonso remains in the Ferrari garage and may plan a single outing to save tyres.

2 min: Raikkonen begins his first lap against the clock.

2 min: No move yet from either Mercedes driver or Sergio Perez in the Sauber.

3 min: Webber and Vettel begin their assault on the front end of the grid.

3 min: Hamilton is quicker than Raikkonen thrugh the first sector as the Finn then gets a wobble on in the middle part of the lap.

3 min: The Red Bull drivers each post 25.0s in the first sector of the lap.

3 min: Button and Hamilton trade the fastest sectors as the laps go on.

3 min: Rosberg joins the racetrack.

3 min: Raikkonen makes 1m36.837s the first time to beat.

4 min: Vettel and Webber are still evenly matched after two sectors, but short of Hamilton on the road.

4 min: Button topples that in 1m36.627s but Hamilton looks faster...

4 min: Webber posts fourth fastest time with 1m37.011s.

4 min: 1m36.219s is Hamilton's very strong marker for the rest to beat.

4 min: Grosjean has gone fifth in his Lotus.

4 min: Vettel is next over the line with a time of 1m37.294s - that's more than one second away from the flying Hamilton. Sixth for the German.

5 min: Replays show Hamilton did lock up into the final turn but still set a blistering first lap and sits on the provisional pole.

5 min: One run for the Mercedes drivers and Rosberg is just into his flying lap. He locks up heavily into Turn 1.

6 min: Perez is also on track as Rosberg looks to try and recover but this lap is scrappy to say the least.

6 min: The McLaren pair make it back to the pits to get fuel and tyres for a second attempt.

6 min: Schumacher is doing much better and posts the fastest first sector, as Rosberg bring this lap to an unfulfilling conclusion.

6 min: Alonso finally leaves the Ferrari garage.

7 min: Rosberg crosses the line in 1m36.664s and salvages third place for now.

7 min: Schumacher is now entering the penultimate straight and is looking to give Hamilton a run for his money ...

7 min: Schumacher leaps into second place with a lap of 1m36.391s.

8 min: Hamilton and Button are already back on track to attempt another time.

8 min: Meantime, the Red Bull pair have been in for a change of tyres and are back out again for a final attempt.

8 min: Vettel is out there using hard compound tyres, as Perez now works towards the end of his first timed lap.

9 min: The Mexican crosses the line and goes ninth of the nine to post a time so far - 1m37.698s.

9 min: Button is heading around to begin his flying attempt and will be keen to at least displace Schumacher to restore a McLaren one-two.

9 min: Rosberg is back into the pits and that is that for the German. He is fourth and will hope to stay there.

9 min: The flag is out but the action continues at Sepang...

09:00 Schumacher similarly pits at the end of his single run. He is on the front row for the moment.

09:00 Alonso secures ninth in his Ferrari.

09:00 Webber is on his last effort now and posts a personal best in sector two. This looks like a better lap all-round.

09:01 Webber crosses the line and moves into third spot with a time of 1m36.461s.

09:01 Button is demoted to fourth by Webber and fifth by Raikkonen...

09:01 Hamilton is not improving on his second attempt.

09:01 Vettel is on his final assault and he crosses the line in 1m36.634s ... that's only sixth!

09:01 Button makes it one-two for McLaren with a great final lap of 1m36.368s.

09:01 Lewis Hamilton takes pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix!

09:02 Polesitter Hamilton is already back in the pits after aborting his final effort to conserve tyres for the race.

09:03 It's another red letter day for McLaren with a second consecutive front row lock-out. Schumacher ends up third on the grid.

09:03 Webber leads Red Bull's charge from fourth with Raikkonen fifth in the session but set to drop five places after that gearbox change.

09:04 Vettel is sixth on the timesheet after another disappointing qualifying performance, with Grosjean seventh and Rosberg eighth.

09:04 Alonso is ninth after a KERS related problem towards the end of the session and Perez rounds out the top 10 for Sauber.

09:05 An explosive qualifying session and we are set for a cracking race. Join us tomorrow for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Session length: 60 minutes
Mainly sunny High Temp: 31°C / 88°F
Track: Dry
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Friday 23 Mar Start GMT
 Friday practice one 01:55
 Friday practice two 05:55
Saturday 24 Mar
 Saturday practice 04:55
 Qualifying 07:50
Sunday 25 Mar
 The Malaysian Grand Prix 07:45