Malaysia Quali: Hamilton Storms to Pole as Rosberg makes Crucial Errors

Lewis Hamilton silenced his doubters with a class performance in Qualifying. His 1:32:850 Pole time was 0.4s quicker than Rosberg in 2nd and less than 0.3s slower than the lap record of 1:32:582s set by Fernando Alonso’s 3.0 litre V10 Renault from 2005.

Hamilton’s lap went uncontested in the final Q3 runs with Rosberg making two errors on both of his flyers. The German was only 0.1s down on Hamilton’s flyer before his final run into sector 3 in which he made a crucial mistake out of the amended turn 15.

After the session, Hamilton said,

“Today the car felt fantastic, I really enjoyed the lap. [I] could have been faster.

I think [Red Bull and Ferrari] are going to be very quick, they’ve been quick all weekend. Of course I’m very happy and grateful for my lap but you always want to finish the last lap, that’s why I said I think there’s more time there.

I think tomorrow, providing the conditions are like this, the track is a lot better, a lot smoother and it seems to work better with the tyres than it has done in previous years. So I think it will be a close race for sure because I think they have very good long runs. [But] I think we were looking quite strong also. Hopefully that’s the case tomorrow.”

– Lewis Hamilton

Max Verstappen pipped Daniel Ricciardo to 3rd by a mere 0.037s and the Dutchman is is strong contention for a podium after displaying great long-run pace in Practice. The Ferrari’s followed the Red Bull seond-row lockout with Vettel 5th and Raikkonen 6th. Of the four main Mercedes chasers, Ricciardo has the tactical advantage with an extra set of softs for race day having pulled his Red Bull through Q2 on a set of Mediums.

Perez and Hulkenberg had a strong session for Force India and lockout the fourth-row with 7th and 8th and crucially line-up ahead of both Williams cars – a vital position for what looks like a season-long battle for 4th in the Constructors.

Jenson Button sweetened his 300th GP weekend by getting the Mclaren-Honda into Q3 and lining up 9th ahead of fellow F1 veteran Felipe Massa who rounds out the top ten.

Bottas was unfortunate to miss out on Q3 after a small mistake out of the final corner cost him. The Finn starts 11th with the Haas cars just behind for company.

Kevin Magnussen added further stock to his F1 future with a great drive to 14th whilst the sister RS19 of Jolyon Palmer could only manage 19th. We’re not sure what more K-Mag can do to show that he deserves a seat in F1 for 2017, whether for Renault or Haas.

Toro Rosso had an anonymous session and line up 15th and 16th with Kvyat outqualifying the ever-praised Carlos Sainz for the first time since Baku. Elsewhere, Fernando Alonso will be one to watch from the back with his upgraded McLaren-Honda. He showed excellent pace in all Practice sessions and the pace of Button will only spur him on to chase a points finish.

Qualifying has set up a fascinating race for tomorrow with Hamilton’s starting procedure critical to his ambitions of becoming the 2016 World Champion. A long run down to turn one into a first corner open to attack is good news for Rosberg and the chasing pack if the Brit scuffs it. One to watch is Sergio Perez, who scored a great podium for Sauber in 2012. He’ll be aiming to get ahead of the Ferrari’s and his coolness on his tyres will surely eke out an advantage.

Alonso will be one to watch from the back and Ricciardo has the option to run a more aggressive strategy with his extra set of softs.

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