Hamilton King Of The Qualfiers At Sepang

Australia’s qualifying had Lewis Hamilton at the top of the order and come the end of Saturday’s hour-long session this weekend, it was him again who posted the quickest time. He kept the upper hand over fellow McLaren driver Jenson Button, who missed out on pole by 0.149.

Hamilton was pleased to be on pole yet again but urged caution as he declared tyre management to be crucial during the race:

“It is [crucial at Sepang]; positioning and tyre management,” he said. “In these conditions you never know what is going to happen, and these tyres are having a seriously hard time around here, so it’s going to be interesting. “This is a very tricky circuit with the temperatures and humidity outside. It will be massively tough tomorrow, so we just have to put ourselves in the best place we can.”

It is the 21st pole position of his career. He said that he did have some errors, but was able to ensure he didn’t lose much time in the process:

“The first lap was quite good, but I lost a bit of time in the last corner. And in the first corner I had a small oversteer moment, but it didn’t cost me much time. The rest of lap went quite well and fortunately I was able to minimise the amount I lost.”

Button congratulated on a good second spot

Jenson Button sits in second place on the grid for the race but was not unhappy considering his consistent problems with the circuit’s second turn:

Obviously it’s always a shame when you are so close and yet so far from the guy that’s on pole and also your team-mate,” he said. “Lewis as we all know is extremely quick and I just couldn’t get that tenth and a half.

“I know exactly where it is and it’s been there all weekend – at the exit of Turn 2 – and I just can’t find the pace there. For some reason I just can’t go around that corner!”

Schumacher was under two tenths from a 69th pole

Michael Schumacher recorded his best grid slot since his comeback in 2010 with a third place. The Mercedes’ ability to find extra speed through their DRS wing system is particularly beneficial at  circuits like Sepang and the following event in Shanghai with it’s long straights. The German driver had an early exit from the race in Australia while team-mate Rosberg’s pace slowed throughout. Schumacher is sure that the team are poised for a better showing this time round:

“I feel good about it and we have chosen a car that should work better in the race – that is the situation that I hope will play out tomorrow.”

Pleased with the team’s progress since 2010, he insisted there was still work to be done in order for Mercedes to consistently be a thron to the front-runners:

“We are reasonably close, not miles away like we were last year so it is up to us to have a good development programme, work methodically and stay focused and let’s see what the season will bring us.”

Raikkonen thinks he could have gone quicker

Kimi Raikkonen kept Lotus’ impressive start to the season going with the fifth-quickest time. The Finn was his usual calm self when asked if he could have been in the first two places on the front row of the grid:

“Yeah for sure. It’s [his time] a tenth away from the top three and for sure we lost that easily.”I got out of shape in two places and lost maybe a tenth or two, and on a perfect lap for sure it could have been two tenths faster, but it’s not often that you get everything right like that.”

He will take a five-place grid drop and start tenth due to changing his gearbox but was unwilling to say whether he would have a strong race or not:

I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll tell you tomorrow. I mean the cars in front of us, they are fast, but I think we were pretty good in the race in Melbourne in the long runs. Yesterday I had a good speed in the long runs so we will see.”

Vettel has yet to start in the top three in his first two attempts

Sebastian Vettel was in sisth position at the end of qualifying but ran the prime tyre – the slower of the two tyre types, those being the soft-but-fast-wearing options and the slower-but-longer-lasting primes.It is a strategy which he is hoping will be faster:

“I didn’t feel comfortable on the soft, and we decided to go on the hard,” said Vettel. “Hopefully tomorrow that will be an advantage, we’ll see. Hopefully I can go longer and that gives me a bit of flexibility in the first stint. We’ll see where we are in the pack and then we do our best and go from there.”

Alonso's pleased with his qualifying

Fernando Alonso got his Ferrari into the final part of qualifying again and despite an issue with his KERS, he believes he extracted the full performance from a car which has attracted criticism from both the team and rivals:

It was a good qualifying, because I think we got everything we could out of the car,” said Alonso.

“I had a KERS problem on my only run in Q3. I don’t think it cost me any places, but it would definitely have made the gap to pole [1.3 seconds] look more realistic.”

Massa was happier with the car after making adjustments

Felipe Massa failed to make it out of Q2 and finished the session in 12th place. He was four tenths slower than team-mate Alonso, a significant improvement over the 1.5 second gap between the pair in qualifying in Australia. He is feeling more confident in the car following some changes to the set-up:

“It was positive to make a normal qualifying, to have the car we expect to have,” Massa said on Saturday afternoon. “We changed everything we could to have the car we expected, and qualifying was the first time I drove the car as it is supposed to be.”

Malaysian GP Grid

1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m36.219s
2. Jenson Button McLaren 1m36.368s + 0.149
3. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m36.391s + 0.172
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m36.461s + 0.242
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m36.461s + 0.242 (* 5 place grid penalty)
6. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m36.634s + 0.415
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m36.658s + 0.439
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m36.664s + 0.445
9. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.566s + 1.347
10. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m37.698s + 1.479

11. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m37.589s + 0.874
12. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.731s + 1.016
13. Bruno Senna Williams 1m37.841s + 1.126
14. Paul di Resta Force India 1m37.877s + 1.162
15. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m37.883s + 1.168
16. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m37.890s + 1.175
17. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m38.069s + 1.354

18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m39.077s + 1.905
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m39.306s + 2.134 (* 5 place grid penalty)
20. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m39.567s + 2.395
21. Timo Glock Marussia 1m40.903s + 3.731
22. Charles Pic Marussia 1m41.250s + 4.078
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m42.914s + 5.742
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m43.655s + 6.483

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