Kimi Raikkonen is showing his season-opening victory in Australia is no fluke after posting the fastest time in the second practice at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Friday - and qualifying yesterday only behind surprise flier Adrian Sutil, the German driver heading the Indian Force challenge.
Nico Rosberg qualified third and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso fourth, with defending world champion Sebastian Vettel back in 15th place.
Sutil sensationally fell out with British driver and former world champion Lewis Hamilton after Hamilton failed to attend a court case 13 months ago in support of the German. The two were best mates until Sutil was dragged into the dock and charged with causing grievous bodily harm after assaulting Renault executive Eric Lux.
The incident happened in a Shanghai nightclub in 2011 just hours after Hamilton won the Chinese Grand Prix. But when the case came to court, Hamilton was unavailable to testify - a decision that left the 30-year-old furious and he later branded Hamilton "a coward".
The two have not yet made up although Hamilton revealed last month he prayed for Sutil, 30, to win back his seat at Force India after a 12 month absence. The Silverstone-based team have faced questions about their decision to hire the driver, who was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and fined £170,000.
There have been no such questions about Raikkonen. The Finn was the surprise winner of the Australian GP last weekend and has won two of the last three Formula One races dating to last year. His Lotus was expected to be competitive with the better-funded Red Bulls and Ferraris but not outpace them as he has done so far.
The unflappable Raikkonen edged world champion Red Bull's Vettel by .019 seconds. He also has been helped by the team's admission that it is favouring the Finn over his slower team-mate Romain Grosjean, who was sixth on Friday.
It was another disappointing day for McLaren, which has struggled since revamping its car in the offseason. Sergio Perez was 11th followed by 2009 champ Jenson Button in 12th.
Button was ninth in Australia.
Hamilton, who appeared to justify his offseason switch from McLaren to Mercedes with a fifth in Australia, has not shown the same pace in Malaysia, running ninth fastest in both sessions and qualifying eighth.