Hamilton blitzes Sepang to score Malaysian GP pole
Lewis Hamilton set a blistering pace to claim pole position for the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver made the most of Sepang’s new track surface to record the fastest ever lap at the 5.5km venue.
Hamilton posted a 1:32.85s effort on his first run in Q3 which proved untouchable as team-mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg struggled to match his rival.
Rosberg made errors on both his flying laps, which ultimately left the German 0.4s shy of Hamilton.
Red Bull improved its one lap pace after a disappointing run in practice to lock out the second row as Max Verstappen edged Daniel Ricciardo for third.
The Milton Keynes squad were more than half a second slower than Hamilton.
“I didn’t make any mistakes, the session was pretty good and the lap was pretty clean,” said Ricciardo.
“I think from where we were yesterday I’m pretty pleased to be where we are.
“We made some pretty big changes overnight and it worked.”
Sebastian Vettel could only manage a time good enough for fifth and will start alongside his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The top 10 was completed by Sergio Perez (Force India), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India), Jenson Button (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Williams).
Button, who was impeded by the Manor of Esteban Ocon in Q1, was the surprise of qualifying as the Brit produced an impressive display to out-pace the Mercedes-powered Massa.
Meanwhile, a lock up in the final corner cost Valtteri Bottas a place in Q3, dropping the Finn down to 11th late in the second segment.
The Haas F1 duo of Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez will occupy 12th and 13th ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who once again out-qualified Renault team-mate Jolyon Palmer.
Toro Rosso found themselves struggling for car speed with Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz at the bottom of the order in Q2.
After a promising run in Friday practice, Jolyon Palmer struggled to tame his Renault which left him in 18th position behind the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr.
The Manors of Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein failed to progress from Q1, while Fernando Alonso propped up the field in his McLaren.
The Spaniard was set to start from the back of the grid after coping a 30-place grid drop for an engine change ahead of Friday Practice.
Alonso received a further 15-place grid penalty before qualifying after his team elected to change more components on his Honda engine.
Prior to qualifying the FIA communicated to teams that drivers are now expected to abandon their laps if double waved yellow flags are present in practice and qualifying.
The change to the regulations comes following Perez’s combined eight place grid drop at the Singapore Grand Prix for overtaking under yellow flags in qualifying.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 1700 AEST.
Result: Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1:33.42||+0.57|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1:33.46||+0.61|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1:34.31||+1.46s|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1:34.48||+1.63|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:35.36||+2.51|
|16||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso/Ferrari||1:35.37||+2.52|