Lewis Hamilton takes a superb 57th career pole in Malaysia


Lewis Hamilton - Credit: Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team

Lewis Hamilton took a brilliant 57th career pole position in Malaysia alongside Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton’s lap time of 1:32.850 was the quickest lap time ever around the Sepang International Circuit after the circuit has been resurfaced, and Rosberg struggled to match his team-mate’s pace throughout qualifying and a mistake on the final corner left the German in second, although the lap did enable him to jump from fourth place after an even bigger mistake on his opening lap.

The Red Bull Racing drivers will start on the second row with Max Verstappen ahead of his more experienced team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, the duo separated by 0.047 seconds.

The Scuderia Ferrari team will be disappointed with the third row on the grid behind both Red Bull’s but their long run pace has looked extremely good during practice. Four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel out-qualified Kimi Raikkonen but the German is positive he can match the Mercedes in the race.

Sahara Force India had a strong qualifying and have locked out the fourth row with Sergio Perez ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, while Jenson Button showed good pace for McLaren-Honda on his 300th Grand Prix qualifying to qualify ahead of Felipe Massa of Williams Martini Racing.  Button complained about traffic throughout qualifying but the result highlighted the progress that Honda have made with their power unit.

The second Williams driver Valtteri Bottas failed to make it into Q3 qualifying eleventh place, with the Finn unable to follow team-mate Massa into Q3 after a scruffy final lap, while the Haas F1 Team drivers were also unable to make it into Q3 with Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez qualifying twelfth and thirteenth.

Kevin Magnussen drove a superb qualifying for Renault Sport F1 to qualify fourteenth, outperforming team-mate Jolyon Palmer who was eliminated in Q1 and will start nineteenth.  The two Toro Rosso’s who were relatively anonymous with Daniil Kvyat out qualifying Carlos Sainz Jr, the duo finishing fifteenth and sixteenth.

Sauber F1 Team drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr were both eliminated in Q1 and will share row nine, ahead of Palmer, while the Manor Racing drivers will start twentieth and twenty-first respectively, with Esteban Ocon out-qualifying Pascal Wehrlein for the first time.

McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso will start at the back of the grid suffering a 45-place grid penalty for a combination of power unit element changes this weekend, which will be used at Honda’s home race in Japan next time out.

Hamilton’s pole position pace is ominous for the race, being consistently four tenths ahead of Rosberg. Red Bull and Ferrari showed great race pace on Friday but with Mercedes half a second clear of the field it will be struggle for the rest of the field.