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NST Online: Sports

F1: Vettel takes last-minute pole

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 06:00 PM PDT

F1: Vettel takes last-minute pole

SEBASTIAN Vettel's second pole position in a row ended what were a dramatic three qualifying sessions yesterday with a pretty much expected grid for the Petronas Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit today.

The Red Bull driver, the defending world champion, snatched pole position from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with his final throw of the dice as the session concluded, with a time of one minute 34.870 seconds. It was the 17th pole position of the 23-year-old Vettel's career.

German Vettel won the race last year after starting from third, with Australian teammate Mark Webber starting from pole. This time around the order was reversed with Webber starting from third.

Both Red Bull drivers thanked the team for solving the issues they had with their kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) for their qualifying positions.

"We wouldn't be here without it," Vettel exclaimed.

It all played out into the widely anticipated Red Bull Racing-McLaren showdown today, even when both Hamilton and teammate Jenson Button had nothing wrong to say about the performance of the McLarens, pointing to positive improvements brought about by updates installed by the team on their cars between the Australian Grand Prix where 2008 world champion Hamilton finished second and his successor in 2009, Button, sixth.

"When you go into qualifying, you just have to pull your trousers down and show what you've got. I knew the car had the speed, so I just kept believing that there was something more I could get out of it," was Vettel's summary of the dramatic end to qualifying.

It had looked as though Hamilton was set for pole position with his fastest lap of 1:34.974s in the third qualifying session before Red Bull played their decisive hand.

The end to all three qualifying sessions had everyone on the edges of their seats as the ranks were switching like items being keyed into a supermarket cash register.

MercedesGP-Petronas' seven-time world champion and record race winner at Sepang, Michael Schumacher suffered the consequences of the busy final two minutes of the second qualifying session as a late charge by many saw him knocked out of the final session, leaving him on 11th spot on the grid for today's race, while teammate Nico Rosberg was just two spots higher at ninth, although the younger German did make the final session.

But Vettel, who started the weekend seemingly struggling near the rear of the pack in Friday's practice sessions, had slowly but steadily worked his way through the weekend and eventually got his whole package into one that delivered the pole position.

"We solved most problems with our KERS system, but it usually takes a while to adjust to this track. It is different every year. So the start to the weekend wasn't as smooth as we wanted it to be," said Vettel.

Having won from pole in Australia without the use of KERS, which Red Bull only announced they'd be utilising in Sepang after solving some reliability issues, Vettel was thankful to the team, but still expects a close fight with the McLarens today.

One unknown is the way the new Pirelli tyres will act under race conditions, with many yet to be sure about exact pit stop strategies to employ.

"When we wake up in the morning, today (yesterday) will be history. We can't really tell how the tyres will react in these conditions, they are extreme. But at least, after the good job the guys have done so far, with getting the KERS working, everyone will have a good night's sleep and be ready for the race," said Vettel.

Weather forecasts do have rain scheduled at 4pm today, which is right when the 13th edition of the Petronas Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix will start. And no team has tested Pirelli's wet tyres, throwing another unpredictable scenario into the picture as with qualifying doing nothing to dislodge status quo, the elements could provide a twist to a show that has otherwise already signed up Red Bull and McLaren as it's star cast.

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Badminton / Australia Open: Wong, pair storm into final

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 06:00 PM PDT

Reports by K.M. Boopathy

Wong Choong Hann beat Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 21-19 in 46 minutes to secure his place in the final in Melbourne yesterday.

Wong Choong Hann beat Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto 21-16, 21-19 in 46 minutes to secure his place in the final in Melbourne yesterday.

VETERAN Wong Choong Hann continued his dream run in the Australia Open as he advanced to the final in Melbourne yesterday alongside women's doubles Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui.

Choong Hann maintained his winning streak against Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto with a 21-16, 21-19 win in 46 minutes to secure his place in the final.

He will be involved in a grudge match against Sho Sasaki of Japan, who defeated the former in the Thomas Cup Finals last year which cost Malaysia the group tie, where victory will earn him his first grand prix title since the 2003 Taiwan Open.

The fact that he has lost in six finals since the Taiwan Open success is likely to spur him to victory.

Sasaki made it to the final after beating Chan Yan Kit of Hong Kong 13-21, 21-16, 21-11.

Pei Tty has been out of action for almost five months due to knee surgery but has made immediate impact in her first tournament with long-time partner Chin Eei Hui in Melbourne.

Pei Tty-Eei Hui, who upset tournament favourites and World No 4 Mizuki Fujii-Reika Kakiiwa in the last eight, defeated Hong Kong's Poon Lok Yan-Tse Ying Suet 25-23, 21-18 to reach the final.

They will meet another Japanese pair Shizuka Matsuo-Mami Naito, who beat Ou Dongni-Xiong Rui 21-19, 21-14, today.

Pei Tty-Eei Hui's performance will be a relief for the BA of Malaysia (BAM) as there can now be at least one quality women's doubles for the World Championships in London in August.

Pei Tty-Eei Hui are also seeking their first international crown since winning the Indonesia Open in 2009.

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