Hamilton Takes 40th Career Pole in Malaysia

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Waiting an half an hour on Saturday afternoon because of a heavy rain storm did not deter Lewis Hamilton as the world champion took his best time of 1:49:834 and converted it to his 40th career pole of his career for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit.

For the first time in a while, the Mercedes team will have only one car on the front row as Sebastian Vettel placed his Ferrari in second, while Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes took third and will begin the race inside the second row.

“I’m very happy with the pole lap”. Said 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 threat of a huge thunderstorm did not take place right away, as the weather was still dry and many drivers were coming out onto the track in a hurry. The session ended with no rain, and Hamilton continued to dominate with a time of 1:39:249. Both McLaren-Hondas of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were out, as well as Roberto Merhli and Will Stevens of Manor.

The second session began under dry skies as well, as the clouds were showing lightning as the storm was approaching closer. All drivers as in the first session, came out quickly. Rosberg got in a quick time for the session, with a 1:39:377. But with ten minutes to go into the session, the rain arrived in buckets, and all the remaining drivers on the track came into the pits and could acheive a quicker time. Because of this, Kimi Raikkonen, Carlos Sainz Jr., Pastor Maldonado and Nico Hulkenberg failed to advance to the last round.

It took 30 minutes for the rain to stop before the final session began, but when it did, as in the other sessions, all the 10 finalists came out onto the track, and it was Hamilton who achieved the best time immediately. But Vettel fought hard, and came across in second, splitting the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg. It is the first time in a while since Austria of last year that a Mercedes only had one car on the front row.

For the rest of the grid, Renault powered cars finished fourth and fifth with Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Danii Kvyat, respectively, while Max Verstappen was sixth for Toro Rosso. Felipe Massa took seventh in his Williams, while Romain Grosjean placed eighth in his Lotus. Valterri Bottas in the other Williams was ninth, and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top ten.

Hamilton as always, was pleased. However, the Briton cautioned that the humidity or the rain could play a big part in deciding this race.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” Hamilton stated afterwards. “The car feels great and the heat always makes this race into a challenge with the strategy. The temperatures make it hard on the tires 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.”