Lewis Hamilton Showing Fans Some Love After Qualifying On Pole For Tomorrows Malaytia Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton delivered a truly dominant performance to take pole position in Malaysia ahead of a critical race in the championship battle.
The Englishman led every qualifying session to end 0.414 seconds quicker than Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, and ahead of the Red Bull’s of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo on the second row and the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on the third row.
The two Force India’s will start on the fourth row, while Jenson Button in his 300th race had an exceptional qualifying session to start from 9th on the grid.
Hamilton Dominant, Rosberg Off The Pace
Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff, said during the weekend that he had never seen Hamilton so focused. That was evident to see during qualifying with the championship contender on the mark through every corner.
Hamilton was almost 0.6 seconds faster than Rosberg in second qualifying and an impressive 0.911 seconds clear after the first runs in Q3. Not even abandoning his last run could threaten pole and Hamilton will take confidence going into the race.
“It’s been a difficult few weeks with Nico’s wins but today the car felt fantastic. I really enjoyed the lap – but could have been faster,” said Hamilton.
Meanwhile, team-mate Nico Rosberg was seriously challenged for second spot on the grid – at a track that typically favours Mercedes – by the fast charging Red Bull’s who were edged out by only .156 seconds.
“I would have come close but unfortunately I had a mistake in the last corner, something just wasn’t going right there,” he said.
Mercedes to Expect a Challenge
The small deficit between Mercedes and Red Bull point to the race not being a slam dunk for the Silver Arrow.
Red Bull has improved significantly over the course of the year to be a serious contender – in fact, Verstappen set the fastest race pace during Friday practice – and combined with Mercedes’ ongoing clutch problems impacting their starts this race is up for grabs.
“The clutch system is the same one we’ve generally had all year so there’s no changes to it, it’s just race-on-race we’re trying to understand it a bit more and more and trying to predict what it’s going to deliver,” Hamilton said.
A little further back in the grid, the close fight between Williams and Force India looks set to continue in Malaysia.
Force India were the ‘best of the rest’ during qualifying while Williams were disappointed to see Massa qualify in 10th and Bottas 11th.
“Ultimately, it’s disappointing because we should be further up the grid than where we are. However, the main thing is that we are in the mix. We’re fighting at the back end of the top 10, and we’re aiming to have a good race to pick up all the points that we can,” said Team Principal Rob Smedley.
The race begins at 15:00 local time and will run over 56 laps.