Lewis Hamilton claims pole position for the 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix after a thunderous qualifying full of torrential rain and lightning.
In the end, Hamilton only managed to claim pole by just 0.074 seconds, after a last second dart to the line saw the Brit pip Vettel to the top spot. Lewis will now start tomorrow’s Grand Prix with someone other than his team mate, Nico Rosberg alongside him.
Across practice Mercedes have continued to dominate Formula One with Rosberg topping both FP1 on Friday and FP3 on Saturday, whilst Hamilton claimed the top spot in FP2. But Nico’s table topping time in FP3, when the teams focused on qualifying pace, was not too far ahead of Lewis. Which surely would have left the Brit brimming with confidence.
As for the Brit in the Marussia, Will Stevens suffered a fuel system problem during the final practice session which the team were unable to fix before Q1 went green and was forced to miss out on qualifying. Regardless, this weekend has proven to be far better than last time out as they have managed to get the car running on track.
Talking of Marussia, when Q1 went green it was their man Roberto Merhi immediately taking to the Sepang International Circuit. Swiftly joined by the field as the 60% risk of rain continued to linger around the track.
Not so long into the session, lightning bolts were flying in the not so distant background of the circuit. As for the lightning bolts flying on track, Rosberg set the early benchmark time. But Hamilton crept over the line shortly after to take P1 with a 1:39.269.
Vettel was the next man to challenge the front order but the German was only using the hard compound tyres compared to the Mercedes’. Yet he was able to go third, just over half a second down on Lewis.
As the session progressed and the battle to reach Q2 become fully engaged, the lightning continued to strike in the background of the track. Yet on track Carlos Sainz put the throttle all the way to the floor and pushed his Toro Rosso above the Williams’ and claimed P4 with an identical time to Vettel.
At the other end of the table, Merhi remained outside the 107% rule and will have to seek permission to race tomorrow like his team mate.
The Lotus duo of Maldonado and Grosjean, they found themselves towards the bottom as they hit the track for their final runs. But Pastor found his way up the table just before the chequered flag fell, leaving his team mate to face the drop. But Romain found even more time than his team mate to take P6 at the death, despite a somewhat messy exit from the final corner.
As for the McLaren duo, they were also fighting at the bottom. But for them the fight was right at the bottom and they were only able to claim 17th and 18th, with just the Marussia’s behind them.
McLaren and Marussia were joined by Nasr as the drivers knocked out in Q1.
But when Q2 started, Vettel lead a physical queue of cars from the pit lane after teams sent their men out to wait for the light to go green.
As they all hustled and bustled to gain track position, Vettel and Rosberg capitalised on the dry track to post competitive 1 minute 29 seconds lap times. But when the heavens above Kuala Lumpur opened, the track began to become a river and the lap times plummeted.
Bottas was one of the men towards the front of the field during the queue, yet the Finn could only get his Williams to claim third place. Over one second behind Rosberg.
As for the other Finn in F1, Kimi Raikkonen could not even manage to get his Ferrari into the top 10 due to the downfall. Hamilton was another driver caught towards the rear of the queue. But Mercedes claim his late release from the garage was due to his engine failing to correctly fire up.
Luckily for Lewis, he managed to scrape his way into eight place before the track became too unsafe to run on. However Hamilton’s time was over two seconds down on Rosberg which highlights how extreme the rain was.
The drivers who were not as fortunate as Lewis and were knocked out in Q2 were Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Perez and Sainz.
After the chequered flag fell to mark the end of Q2, there was a prolonged break between sessions as Q3 faced delays for the track to dry. In the end, the break lasted 30 minutes before we had F1 cars back on the Sepang International Circuit.
Eventually Q3 began with most of the drivers heading straight out, including some that queued in the pit lane.
Williams were the first to head out on track, with both drivers on the full wet tyres. Contrasting to others who chose to use the intermediates, with only Ericsson and Grosjean joining Williams on the full wets. Creating a 6/4 split in tyre selection.
The first flying lap of Q3 would have come courtesy of Bottas. But the full wets proved to be the wrong decision as the men on inters flew far faster. In the end, Bottas scrapped his lap and left the track for Vettel in the Ferrari, with his intermediate tyres.
His initial lap time left him open to attack however and the Mercedes moved into their top two positions, pushing Vettel down the order.
Verstappen and the two Red Bulls found themselves in the middle of the top 10 as it stood. But Williams and Grosjean were yet to complete a timed lap.
As the drivers set up their final runs, Hamilton appeared to be held up by his team mate. Forcing Lewis to choose to slow down instead of wasting his lap.
Elsewhere Vettel continued to look for an upset and managed to take the chequered flag with his Ferrari moving up to second place. Only issue for Vettel was the two Mercedes were behind him and on flying laps.
However Hamilton failed to improve on his benchmark time, leaving Vettel within 7 hundredths of a second to him and pole position open for Rosberg to snatch.
Yet despite Nico improving on his personal best, it was not enough to challenge Lewis for pole. Now the German in the Mercedes will find himself behind the German in a Ferrari after Seb broke the Silver Arrows streak of front row lock outs.
Now Lewis Hamilton has claimed 40 career pole positions, 3 of which have been at the Sepang International Circuit and he will start tomorrow’s Grand Prix ahead of the field.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Q3: 1:49.834|
|11||Kimi Raikkonen||Q2: 1:42.173|
|16||Felipe Nasr||Q1: 1:41.308|
|20||Will Stevens||No time set|