Hamilton Beats Vettel To Wet Malaysian Pole

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Round two of this year’s F1 world championship will have Lewis Hamilton leading the grid when the lights go out as the British driver took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel finished qualifying less than a tenth behind as he pushed his rival close. Nico Rosberg had to settle for third on the grid.

A late afternoon start in Malaysia is often prone to a risk of rain and this came to be the case for qualifying. The session began in dry conditions but the second part of qualifying saw rain hit the track. The rain was extremely heavy and the top ten fight in Q3 by 25 minutes.

By the time the final twelve minutes began, most drivers ran with intermediate tyres on a track which dried quickly. Lewis Hamilton’s first timed lap was good enough to see off Sebastian Vettel’s strong effort. The wet pole is the 40th of Hamilton’s career. The second-placed start of Sebastian Vettel marks the first front row without both Mercedes cars for ten races.

Lewis Hamilton commented on the question of whether he had been blocked by Rosberg during his second attempt at a lap in Q3. Rosberg appeared to be in the way of the faster Hamilton.

“No. I decided to take the second lap.

“My first sector was quickest and then I bailed out.

“I had traffic, I had people in front of me. There were quite a few cars ahead.

“It was looking quite good, the sector looked quite good.

“I saw the cars and knew they would get in the way so I decided to take the second lap.”

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Sebastian Vettel was happy with second place and did not rule out the chances of a victory if the race sees rain fall.

“You never know. Just look outside; when it starts to rain here, which is a high chance, it can mix up things,” said the German.

“The car felt good, I’m reasonably happy. Also the long runs looked good in practice, so we should be in good shape.

“We know they are difficult to beat, but ultimately that is why everyone turns up – trying to win.

“The balance was pretty good in qualifying, Friday was solid, and we seem to be looking after the tyres.

“I know this race can be a difficult one with the tyres, plus you never know with the race, it could mix things around.

“Starting where we do, I think we have a decent chance to do well tomorrow. We could be up for anything.”

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Nico Rosberg agreed with Lewis Hamilton’s assessment that he was not at fault during what looked like Rosberg being in Hamilton’s way in Q3.

“I’m sure he bailed out well before coming up on me. How do we make that a fact that he bailed out before he came across me?

“I don’t have an answer to make that a fact for you but I will have to think about something later on.”

Teenager Max Verstappen was a star of qualifying as he lines up sixth on the grid. The Dutchman said he was thankful of the rain that helped his session.

“I was really happy that it started to rain in Q2 so that I had the chance in Q3 in the wet,” he said.

“That’s what I like and I was very confident that it would be a good qualifying.

“My lap was quite good, although I was still struggling a bit with the brakes in the high braking zone and that cost me P5.”

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Daniel Ricciardo was happy with fourth on the grid and said a lot of progress had been made in the two weeks since the Australian Grand Prix.

“I guess it’s always a little bit more tricky in the wet, but I can’t really complain,” said Ricciardo.

“I think from where we are now compared to Melbourne it is night and day different.

“It’s still not perfect but we’ve made the best step we can ask for in a two-week period.

“If we can keep building on that then I think we’re going to be looking good in the not too distant future.”

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Fernando Alonso was optimistic despite qualifying in eighteenth place and being out-qualifying by his team-mate Jenson Button who will start seventeenth. Alonso said he was sure that the partnership of McLaren and Honda will continue to improve.

“I guess it’s always a little bit more tricky in the wet, but I can’t really complain,” said Ricciardo.

“I think from where we are now compared to Melbourne it is night and day different.

“It’s still not perfect but we’ve made the best step we can ask for in a two-week period.

“If we can keep building on that then I think we’re going to be looking good in the not too distant future.”

Malaysian GP Grid

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m49.834s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m49.908s 0.074s
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.299s 0.465s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m51.541s 1.707s
5 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull/Renault 1m51.950s 2.116s
6 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso/Renault 1m51.980s 2.146s
7 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m52.473s 2.639s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m53.179s 3.345s
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m53.260s 3.426s
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Mercedes 1m52.980s 3.146s
11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m42.173s
12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Mercedes 1m42.197s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m43.022s
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m43.468s
15 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 1m43.700s
16 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 1m41.308s
17 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 1m41.635s
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m41.745s
19 Roberto Merhi Marussia/Ferrari 1m46.677s
20 Will Stevens Marussia/Ferrari

 

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