F1 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying result: Hamilton claims pole position
PUBLISHED: 14:55 29 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:52 30 March 2014
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix at a wet and rainy Sepang today (Saturday).
Sepang – the stats you need
* Race distance: 56 laps (310.408km/192.888 miles)
* Start time: 16:00 (local)/08:00 (GMT)
* Circuit length: 5.543km/3.444 miles
* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB9) 56 laps in 1hr38m56.681s (188.231km/h)
* 2013 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB9) 1m 49.674s (181.946km/h)
* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m24.125s (226.933km/h)
The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 racer from Hertfordshire was fastest around the Sepang International Circuit this morning after a delayed start to qualifying.
In testing conditions, Hamilton recorded a Q3 lap of 1m 59.431s on his first run in rain-hit Malaysia to take pole in a closely contested session.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel will line-up on the front row of the grid alongside Hamilton for Red Bull. He was just 0.055s slower than Hamilton.
Silver Arrows star Nico Rosberg, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, qualified third with Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari joining him on the second row.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fifth in the qualifying results, with Kimi Raikkonen sixth in the other Ferrari.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Force India, with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen, Jean-Eric Vergne and Jenson Button completing the provisional top 10 grid positions in the other McLaren.
Heavy downpours at the Sepang International Circuit delayed the start of the session by 50 minutes, with wet conditions remaining throughout.
Despite the rain, Hamilton claimed his 33rd Formula One career pole position – and his second in a row in 2014.
F1 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying result
Provisional starting grid (top 10):
1 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
4 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
5 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
7 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
8 Kevin Magnussen (McLaren)
9 Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
10 Jenson Button (McLaren)
A Mercedes driver also topped every part of qualifying – Nico Rosberg in Q1, and Lewis in Q2 and Q3. In changing wet conditions, the drivers ran intermediate tyres in Q1 and full wet tyres in Q2 and Q3.
After qualifying, Hamilton said: “I’m really happy with our result today. It was a very close session and I’m relieved to come away with pole position as it was pretty tense towards the end.
“The lap was far from being my optimum. I should have been able to eke out a little more time but thankfully it wasn’t needed.
“Conditions were incredibly difficult and it would have been so easy to get it wrong today. At times towards the end it was almost impossible to see if anyone was behind me.”
2014 World Drivers’ Championship
1 Nico Rosberg 25pts
2 Kevin Magnussen 18
3 Jenson Button 15
4 Fernando Alonso 12
5 Valtteri Bottas 10
6 Nico Hulkenberg 8
7 Kimi Raikkonen 6
8 Jean-Eric Vergne 4
9 Daniil Kvyat 2
10 Sergio Perez 1
* Subject to Red Bull appeal
He added: “The team have done a great job once again, we have a great car, and we now have to convert this performance tomorrow.”
Like in Melbourne, Rosberg will start third. He struggled in Q3 with his tyres, as he explained.
“I didn’t feel very comfortable on the extreme wet tyres at the end of Q3, especially on the brakes, but I was still able to improve enough to claim third from Fernando, which was the positive for me,” said Mercedes’ world championship leader.
“We’ve definitely improved the way we manage the sessions since Australia, so I was the last car to cross the line, but unfortunately the track didn’t really improve.
2014 F1 World Constructors’ Championship
After Australian Grand Prix
1 McLaren 33 pts
2 Mercedes AMG 25
3 Ferrari 18
4 Williams 10
5 Force India 9
6 Scuderia Toro Rosso 6
* Subject to Red Bull appeal
“It will definitely be a difficult and eventful race as the weather is predicted to be the same again, but that will give me opportunities to gain some positions.
“I’m looking forward to the race and I want to get the best out of it, like we did in Melbourne.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport chief Toto Wolff praised his drivers after a challenging qualifying session.
Wolff said: “That was another difficult qualifying session with constantly changing conditions. It was tricky to find the right track position, at the right time, on the right tyres and for the drivers to deliver a mistake-free lap.
“The team ran a calm session, making the right calls at the right time. Lewis was able to convert his speed into pole position for the second race in a row.
“Nico was not quite so comfortable on the full wet tyre, but still claimed P3, as in Melbourne two weeks ago.”
He added: “We aim to build on these strong starting positions tomorrow [Sunday] but we know that we have a very tough race ahead of us, whether it’s wet or dry.”
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe acknowledged it was hard judging the constantly changing track and weather conditions.
He said: “Rain in Malaysia normally falls as short, sharp showers, which meant we were hoping for a more straightforward session than we ultimately got.
“The rain was stopping and starting throughout, which made it especially challenging to judge the track conditions in each part of qualifying.
“Conditions in Q1 were stable and we ran the intermediate tyre throughout; for Q2, there was more rain falling and the full wet proved to be the tyre of choice; and then in Q3, when it really counts, it was marginal between full wets and the intermediate.
“Q3 also featured the added challenge of traffic, with each car wanting to cross the line as late as possible. In the circumstances, P1 and P3 is a fantastic result.
“While a wet session is stressful for the team, it’s toughest of all for the drivers, who cannot afford to put a foot wrong.
“Well done to both of them and we are now looking forward to tomorrow. From our starting positions, we will be racing for the win.”