Motorsport

Hamilton on pole in Malaysia

2012-03-24 11:11
Lewis Hamilton (File)

Sepang - Britain's Lewis Hamilton made it two straight pole positions to start the season as he dominated qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton, who started from pole last week in Australia but finished third, timed 1:36.219 in the decisive qualifying session ahead of team-mate Jenson Button, with seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher third.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and defending world champion Sebastian Vettel in sixth. However, Raikkonen will drop five places for an unscheduled gearbox change.

McLaren have not been headed in qualifying this year after also claiming the top two places last week. Button, the 2009 world champion, won from second on the grid in Melbourne to lead the early championship ahead of Vettel.

"It's been a good weekend so far. It's been a tough day with the changing weather conditions and the temperatures climbing," said Hamilton. "We made some changes to the car but we still managed to do some good times."

In hot but dry conditions, Red Bull's Webber nabbed the top time in the dying seconds of the first 20-minute qualifying segment, in which Ferrari's Massa flirted with elimination before recovering to scrape through in 15th.

And in Q2, seven-time world champion Schumacher left it until his very last lap before climbing from 11th to fourth. Raikkonen was quickest but there was no top-10 shoot-out for the embattled Massa, who wound up 12th.

In a thrilling Q3, Raikkonen, Button and Hamilton outpaced each other in quick succession at the top of the standings and with two minutes remaining, Schumacher's challenge agonisingly short of the front row.

"It's good for us as a team to be on the front row again," Button said. "You want it to be the other way round as well but Lewis did a great lap at the start of Q3. We edged closer but couldn't quite get there."

Schumacher said his Mercedes team had squeezed every ounce of performance from their car, whose innovative 'W-duct' rear wing has been the first source of technical controversy this season.

"This was the maximum that was available," Schumacher said. "If you look who's behind us and how close everything is going we can be more than happy with what we achieved."

This year's Formula One series features an unprecedented six former world champions, with Vettel, 24, bidding to become only the third driver in the sport's history to win three titles in a row.

Five of the six world title-winners have been victorious at Sepang, a fast circuit known for its strength-sapping humidity and frequent heavy rain. Vettel won the 2010 and 2011 races.

Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and Sauber's Mexican pilot Sergio Perez rounded out the top 10 timings.

Meanwhile Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen will start at the back of the grid after being slapped with a five-place penalty for overtaking under the safety car at last week's Australian Grand Prix.

The starting grid for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix following the final qualifying sessions on Saturday:

1st row
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

2nd row
Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes-AMG)
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)

3rd row
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault)

4th row
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes-AMG)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)

5th row
Sergio Perez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus-Renault)

6th row
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)

7th row
Bruno Senna (BRA/Williams-Renault)
Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes)

8th row
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Force India-Mercedes)

9th row
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber-Ferrari)
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

10th row
Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Caterham-Renault)
Timo Glock (GER/Marussia-Cosworth)

11th row
Charles Pic (FRA/Marussia-Cosworth)
Pedro de la Rosa (ESP/HRT-Cosworth)

12th row
Narain Karthikeyan (IND/HRT-Cosworth)
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Caterham-Renault)

NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
Vote

Hypothetically, given the same cars to drive, who is the most talented current Formula One driver in your opinion?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.