Never shy on the sartorial front, Michael Schumacher eschews the traditional driver baseball cap for a white Panama-style hat as he enters the circuit on Saturday
Does she know something we don't? Tropical rain is never far away in Malaysia - will the weather disrupt qualifying as it did in 2010?
Fernando Alonso is not turning his back on the 2011 Ferrari already, but he has admitted the team are in for a difficult weekend, some way off the pace of the front-runners
Out on the track, Schumacher and the Mercedes team still appear to be struggling to find the way to match the top teams for performance. Schumacher is 10th in final practice
Lewis Hamilton shows that McLaren are a force to be reckoned with in Malaysia with fastest time in final practice at the demanding Sepang track. But he reckons Red Bull have 0.5secs on the field in qualifying
Sebastian Vettel is only fifth fastest in final practice but does he have something up his sleeve? Will the world champion use the pace of his Red Bull to qualify on the slower, harder tyre?
The action is about to get very serious indeed - and Force India reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg makes sure the cameras are in position to capture every twist and turn
Qualifying gets under way in hot and humid Sepang, only to be brought to an untimely halt when a piece of bodywork from Sebastien Buemi's sidepod detaches itself from his Toro Rosso and leads to a red flag
Neither Alonso (pictured) or team-mate Felipe Massa have set a time before the session is stopped, so once it recommences Ferrari send their drivers out on soft 'option' tyres to ensure they make it through to Q2
Virgin's Jerome d'Ambrosio and Jarno Trulli of Lotus are two of the seven drivers who exit qualifying in Q1. The others are Pastor Maldonado, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock, Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan
A McLaren engineer surveys the wear accrued by his team's tyres during third practice and qualifying. The hard 'prime' Pirellis are identified by silver markings and the soft 'option' variety by the yellow paint and gold bands
The Sepang palm trees make for an pleasant backdrop but there's nothing pretty about Schumacher's qualifying session as he is denied a place in the top-10 shoot-out by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg
A breathtaking finale ensues and Hamitlon looks to have put himself on pole with a stunning lap of 1:34.974 seconds. Neither Mark Webber or team-mate Jenson Button can usurp the 2008 champion - can Vettel?
Yes he can - and how. The reigning world champion laps in one minute 34.870 seconds to pip Hamilton by one tenth, which pretty much equates to the blink of an eye
The top three - Vettel (centre), Hamilton (right) and Webber - look to be fairly pleased with their placings afterwards, but all of them will be desperate to clinch victory in Sunday's race at 0900 BST
As evening falls on Sepang, Hamilton is left to mull the day over with his father Anthony. For rivals Red Bull, it is a 17th pole position from the last 21 grands prix