Lewis Hamilton took his fortieth pole position of his Formula 1 career after pulling out a stunning lap during the wet qualifying session at Sepang, with his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team-mate Nico Rosberg only third.
Hamilton was delighted with his lap set in the tricky conditions, even if he felt lucky to make it through to Q3 after getting involved in a battle with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari during the one lap rush to get a competitive lap time in before the rain came down harder.
“I’m very happy with the pole lap,” revealed Hamilton. “I didn’t quite put the second lap together so I was hoping the first one would be good enough and luckily it was!
“I love these kind of conditions – it makes it more of a lottery. I nearly didn’t make it through Q2 when I got caught up with the Ferrari and the Sauber. It’s so easy to get caught out and that makes it even more exciting.”
The reigning World Champion believes the car feels good around Sepang, and believes it will be an interesting race, with the weather possibly paying a part once more. He also feels having Sebastian Vettel alongside him on the grid makes for a more interesting race.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” continued Hamilton. “The car feels great and the heat always makes this race into a challenge with the strategy.
“The temperatures make it hard on the tyres and last year we made three stops, so it’s tough on the cars as well as the drivers. We’ll also be starting earlier in the day compared to qualifying today so, providing it stays dry, it will be a very hot race.
“It’s not the easiest place to overtake so the start will be crucial – especially with the long run down to Turn One. Ferrari have made some big improvements and it’s great to be lining up alongside a four time World Champion, so it should be an interesting race.”
Team-mate Rosberg was disappointed to qualify only third behind Hamilton and Vettel, but insists he will push hard on Sunday to get ahead of both drivers, with the German looking to get ahead of the Ferrari driver at the start so he can then concentrate on his team-mate.
“Two other guys just did a better job, so it was a bit annoying for me today,” said Rosberg. “Lewis did well and especially Sebastian, who was surprising in the Ferrari, so hats off for him.
“But I think I have a good chance tomorrow at the start as I will be on the clean side of the grid. I will try to attack Seb off the line and then there are some good opportunities also to catch Lewis.
“This race will be very demanding on the tyres so we will maybe see three pit stops and there is always a chance of taking a different strategy. So I very much look forward to the race. I will push hard.”