Lewis Hamilton will have a clear track in front of him when he starts tomorrow’s Malaysia Grand Prix after outpacing quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel by just 0.055 seconds to secure his 33th career pole position.
Hamilton clocked a wet Sepang International Circuit in 1:59.431 on his first run in Q3 that put him ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at the top of the timesheets. The trio, along with much of the field put on a new set of wet tyres for a final two minute shootout. However, conditions worsened and neither of the trio could improve on their first run benchmarks.
The one driver who could go faster on his final outing was Nico Rosberg. The German overtook Vettel on his outlap and improved his lap time marginally to secure third spot on the grid, displacing Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to fourth place.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified in fifth place, ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen who was in much better shape this weekend than he was in Australia a fortnight ago.
Nico Hulkenberg was formidable in the the wet, setting a lap time of 2:01.712 to take seventh place.
Meanwhile, McLaren which were hoping to make big gains this weekend could qualify only in eighth and tenth place respectively with the young Dane Kevin Magnussen having the upper hand. Jenson Button's gamble on coming out on intermediate tyres didn't work on out and he regretted the mistake on his part, insisting the intermediate tyres were just not in their operating window.
Qualifying specialist Jean Eric Vergne split the two grey and black cars with a lap time of 2:02.213. His teammate Daniil Kvyat will start the race from 11th place, having beaten by Vergne for the final spot in Q3.
Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas also failed to make it into the final part of qualifying after the Grove based outfit left it too late for the drivers to switch to the wet tyres. The duo qualified in 13th and 15th place respectively.
Meanwhile, Lotus had a more reliable day with neither Romain Grosjean nor Pastor Maldonado suffering from mechanical issues. However, results were still hard to come with Maldonado eliminated in Q1 and Grosjean running wide on his flying lap, thereby ending only 16th fastest.
Sauber didn’t have much to cheer about with Gutierrez only managing 12th and Sutil failing to make his way past Q1.
1 LC Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1'59.431
2 S Vettel (GER) Red Bull 1'59.486
3 N Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 2'00.050
4 F Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 2'00.175
5 D Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull 2'00.541
6 KM Räikkönen (FIN) Ferrari 2'01.218
7 N Hülkenberg (GER) Force India 2'01.712
8 K Magnussen (DEN) McLaren 2'02.213
9 JE Vergne (FRA) Toro Rosso 2'03.078
10 J Button (GBR) McLaren 2'04.053
11 D Kvyat (RUS) Toro Rosso 2'02.351
12 E Gutiérrez (MEX) Sauber 2'02.369
13 F Massa (BRA) Williams 2'02.460
14 S Perez (MEX) Force India 2'02.511
15 V Bottas (FIN) Williams 2'02.756
16 R Grosjean (FRA) Lotus 2'02.885
17 P Maldonado (VEN) Lotus 2'02.074
18 A Sutil (GER) Sauber 2'02.131
19 J Bianchi (FRA) Marussia 2'02.702
20 K Kobayashi (JPN) Caterham 2'03.595
21 M Chilton (GBR) Marussia 2'04.388
22 M Ericsson (SWE) Caterham 2'04.407