SEPANG, Malaysia — Lewis Hamilton left no doubt who the fastest man in Malaysia was during Formula One qualifying on Saturday, outpacing teammate Nico Rosberg by four-tenths of a second en route to the pole position at Sepang Int’l Circuit.
Hamilton clicked off a time of 1:32.850 in the final knockout round to secure the top spot on the grid. It is his eighth pole this season and the 57th of his F1 career, third all-time behind Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.
The Brit will be seeking his milestone 50th Grand Prix victory in Sunday’s race.
While Hamilton smoked his right front tire on the final lap, it didn’t matter in regards to the pole. Not even his teammate came close in three rounds of qualifying that were never truly in doubt.
“It feels great. I’m incredibly grateful for the car being where it is,” Hamilton said of his pole run. “The guys have done a great job for us to have such performance this weekend. To be able to extract it from the car is the thing I’m really happy about. It’s been night and day in comparison to Singapore. Of the laps I had there, I only really got a few of them together. Here, though, we’ve had lots of mileage, I’ve been able to build through the sessions and I felt really comfortable in the car. Again, great work from the guys in the garage – just like they have been doing all year.”
“My final qualifying lap was the first lockup I’d had all weekend into turn one, so there was more time out there. It’s a shame I didn’t get to show it but I still got the pole and it’s looking good for tomorrow. I’ve been here since last Saturday, so I’ve been able to prepare really well and I’ve been pretty quick all weekend. I’ve had incredible support ever since I arrived here in Malaysia from the people here – and from everyone else around the world too, as always.”
Rosberg’s best lap was a 1:33.264, and the result
“Congrats to Lewis for the pole. He did a better job today,” Rosberg said. “I was closer to him on my last lap but then I lost a couple of tenths in the last corner, which was a pity. I can be happy with a front row start as we have seen this year that there are some opportunities at the start and qualifying is not quite so important anymore – especially at a track like this where you can overtake. So, overall I’m quite confident for tomorrow. I hope we can give our Malaysian friends from Petronas and the whole country a great race.”
In a reversal from practice on Friday, both Red Bulls outpaced their Ferrari rivals, with Monaco winner Max Verstappen posting a time of 1:33.420 to go third, just a tenth and a half adrift of Rosberg.
Daniel Ricciardo followed in fourth on a lap of 1:33.467 and the Prancing Horse of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel rounded out the ‘Fast Five’.
Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen was sixth-quick ahead of the Force India duo of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren’s Jenson Button will start ninth for his 300th Grand Prix, alongside the Williams of Felipe Massa.