Hamilton sets new qualifying record in Sepang

Lewis Hamilton achieved his 100th front row appearance with his eight pole position of this season. His speed in the Mercedes was incredible, breaking the lap record at the Sepang International Circuit. The pole time was an impressive one minute, 32. 850 seconds.

Championship rival and Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg was under pressure and yet was able to recover to grab second position from the Red Bulls. Although he was 0.414 seconds adrift from Hamilton.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo will form row two with the birthday boy – just turned 19 years old – ahead of the honey badger by a margin of four tenths of a second.

It’s a Ferrari row three with four-times Sepang winner Sebastian Vettel ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg represents a Force India row four.

As for Jenson Button – celebrating his 300th Grand Prix at Malaysia – ninth position is a solid result for the McLaren ace.

Button made it through to Q3 with a fine late effort that, along with improvements from the Force India pair, meant the Williams of Valtteri Bottas missed the cut by just 0.039 seconds, as Bottas failed to improve on his second Q2 run.

Romain Grosjean beat Haas team-mate Esteban Gutierrez to the 12th fastest time by less than a tenth, while Kevin Magnussen did an excellent job to qualify his Renault P14, having missed most of Friday practice after his car caught fire in the pits in FP1.

A late improvement from Daniil Kvyat meant he beat Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz to P15 on the grid by just 0.005 seconds.

This was the first time Kvyat has out-qualified Sainz since June’s European Grand Prix in Azerbaijan.

Jolyon Palmer’s Renault and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda joined the Saubers and Manors after Q1.

Given Magnussen’s performance Palmer had a realistic shot at making Q2, but his final lap of the session was scrappy and he ended up dropping behind the Saubers of Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr into P19.

Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor team-mate Pascal Wehrlein for the first time, beating him to the P20 by 0.136 seconds.

Alonso completed a cursory run on medium tyres in his McLaren, knowing he will start at the back of the grid regardless owing to a 45-place grid penalty for various illegal engine component swaps.

Malaysian Grand Prix, qualifying times:

1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m32.850s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m33.264s
3    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.420s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m33.467s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m33.584s
6    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m33.632s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m34.319s
8    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m34.489s
9    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m34.518s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m34.671s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m34.577s
12    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m35.001s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m35.097s
14    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m35.277s
15    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.369s
16    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m35.374s
17    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.816s
18    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m35.949s
19    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m35.999s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor/Mercedes    1m36.451s
21    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m36.587s
22    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m37.155s

3 thoughts to “Hamilton sets new qualifying record in Sepang”

  1. Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Even after abandoning his final flying lap, nothing – not even Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg – could prevent Lewis Hamilton taking pole position for the 2016 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, as the world champion headed qualifying by four-tenths of a second at Sepang on Saturday.

    But the Silver Arrows could face strong competition in the race, with the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in striking distance on the second row and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on the third, especially if either Mercedes falters with the sort of problems they encountered at Hockenheim or Monza.

    The Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg filled out row four, while McLaren’s Jenson Button will start his 300th Grand Prix from ninth on the grid. Williams’ Felipe Massa completed the top ten.

    The opening Q1 phase was a question of the yellow soft tyres, or the white mediums? Was it possible to get through without using a set of the softer tyres? Mercedes set the pace with the yellow Pirellis, Hamilton just ahead of Rosberg, but initially Ferrari and Red Bull stayed with the whites as Force India and Williams copied Mercedes.

    In the end, Ferrari did likewise, since Raikkonen and Vettel were only ninth and 10th after the first runs. That put them on Mercedes’ tail, with the duo only a tenth off the Silver Arrows drivers.

    Ricciardo was seventh, Verstappen 12th.

    Neither Sauber got through to Q2; Marcus Ericsson lapped in 1m 35.816s, Felipe Nasr in 1m 35.949s. Jolyon Palmer didn’t improve on 1m 35.999s for Renault, having earlier gone off in Turn 6 and later had trouble on what seemed like a decent lap as he exited Turn 15.

    Esteban Ocon out-qualified Manor team mate Pascal Wehrlein, with 1m 36.451s to 1m 36.587s, as McLaren’s Fernando Alonso did only a few laps to check out the revised brake duct set-up that had resulted in him not doing much running in FP3. His best was 1m 37.155s, but remember he has a 45-place grid drop thanks to engine-change penalties, so fast laps would just have wasted tyres.

    Hamilton smashed Rosberg at the start of Q2 with 1m 33.046s to 1m 33.609s, as Verstappen’s 1m 33.775s aced Ricciardo’s 1m 33.888s, Raikkonen’s 1m 33.903s and Vettel’s 1m 33.972s. Massa was seventh on 1m 34.422s.

    Leaving the Brazilian in the pits as everyone south of him went for another run looked risky for Williams, but only Button got close with an improvement to 1m 34.431s which put his McLaren eighth ahead of the Force Indias.

    That left Valtteri Bottas in the cold in the second Williams on 1m 34.538s ahead of the Haas cars of Romain Grosjean (who lost his right-hand mirror in Q1) on 1m 34.801s and Esteban Gutierrez on 1m 35.097s, Kevin Magnussen’s Renault on 1m 35.277s, and the Toro Rossos of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz on 1m 35.369s and 1m 35.374s respectively.

    Q3 saw Perez go fastest initially on 1m 35.173s before he was displaced in turn by Vettel on 1m 33.916s, Verstappen on 1m 33.420s, Raikkonen on 1m 33.632s, Ricciardo on 1m 33.526s, and Rosberg on 1m 33.761s after an off over a kerb and oversteer exiting Turn 15. But Hamilton redefined all of that with 1m 32.850s, close to the fastest lap ever recorded here. It seemed that would be hard to beat, as Verstappen reported drizzle.

    The rain held off, but while a locked right front prevented Hamilton from looking remotely like improving his time, Rosberg could only manage 1m 33.264s which hoisted him to second. Verstappen failed to improve but held on for third, as Ricciardo closed in with 1m 33.467s and Vettel did likewise with 1m 33.584s, leaving them fourth and fifth ahead of Raikkonen who didn’t go faster.

    Perez’s 1m 34.319s left him seventh ahead of Force India team mate Hulkenberg on 1m 34.489s. Button took ninth on 1m 34.518s for McLaren, as Massa brought up the rear for Williams with 1m 34.671s.

    Thus the provisional grid reads: Hamilton, Rosberg; Verstappen, Ricciardo; Vettel, Raikkonen; Perez, Hulkenberg; Button, Massa; Bottas, Grosjean; Gutierrez, Magnussen; Kvyat, Sainz; Ericsson, Nasr; Palmer, Ocon; Wehrlein, Alonso.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton expects close fight with Ferrari and Red Bull in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton expects a close fight with Formula 1 rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix despite comfortably taking pole position at Sepang.

    The reigning world champion finished 0.414s clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo around two tenths further back.

    Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen locked out the third row, one tenth adrift of the Red Bulls, at a time of day when the conditions were around 10C cooler than on Friday when teams were doing their long-run evaluations.

    “I think they [Red Bull and Ferrari] will be very quick, they have been quick all weekend,” said Hamilton, who took only his second pole in six races.

    “Providing the conditions are like this, the course is better, a lot smoother and seems to work better with the tyres than it has done in previous years.

    “It’ll be a close race because they had very good long runs but we’re looking quite strong also so hopefully that is the case tomorrow.”

    When Verstappen was asked if felt he could beat Mercedes in the race, having demonstrated strong long run pace on Friday, he said: “I don’t know.

    “The whole weekend has been quite positive, we made some changes after Singapore and it seems to work.

    “The long run pace looked promising.

    “I felt quite a good balance on the soft tyre, actually on all compounds it felt good in long runs but it just depends on the temperature on Sunday.

    “The short run on Friday we needed to improve and we found a good set-up with that for today.”

    Hamilton was pleased with his qualifying, but felt he could have gone quicker after aborting his second run in Q3.

    “The car felt fantastic,” he said. “I really enjoyed the lap [but] it could have been faster.

    “I’m very happy and grateful for my lap but you always want to finish that last lap

    “There’s more time there.”

    Rosberg accepted Hamilton’s lap was just too good but said it would have been closer had he been able to get on top of a persistent oversteer problem in the final corner.

    “Lewis’ lap was very quick so it was always going to be difficult,” said Rosberg.

    “I would have come close but unfortunately I made a mistake in the last corner.

    “Something just wasn’t going right in the last corner and I couldn’t get the settings right.

    “I’ve always got a big oversteer moment into there.

    “But anyway, second place, I’ve got to live with that now.

    “As we know from this year, second place doesn’t mean that victory is not possible on Sunday, so I’m still very optimistic.”

  3. Jenson Button has hit out at drivers failing to get out of the way during Formula 1 qualifying sessions when they are not on flying laps.

    The McLaren driver was angry at traffic on both of his runs during the first segment of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    But while he complained during his first run when he spun while behind Renault driver Kevin Magnussen, Button singled out Manor rookie Esteban Ocon for criticism.

    “I’d spun off, I can’t put that down to Kevin being in the way, but he was the fifth car I caught on my timed lap and I was just getting frustrated,” said Button when asked about his Q1 problems.

    “The, when I went for a lap again, Ocon just didn’t move offline at all braking for Turn 9.

    “He was on an outlap so I had to actually outbrake him and lunge him up the inside, which I don’t think I’ve ever had to do in qualifying before.”

    Button was unsure whether the Manor team or driver was to blame for that specific incident, but he believes some teams are not doing the job they should be in monitoring the traffic – even though there was no investigation into potential impeding offences during qualifying.

    “It’s disappointing. Our team are very good at telling us when there is a car coming up behind, they give you a countdown of seconds,” he said.

    “It doesn’t seem that other teams are keeping their eyes open as much, or the drivers aren’t listening.

    “It’s a shame, if we have that [nobody looking out for traffic] we all have to go out at the same time and that limits your qualifying timing.”

    Manor team principal Dave Ryan, who was frustrated by traffic costing driver Pascal Wehrlein time, was apologetic but did not go into the reasons behind the problem.

    “There was a bit of an issue with Button and if there was then apologies,” said Ryan.

    Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat, who qualified 15th, was also frustrated by traffic.

    He suggested that drivers do not make enough effort to get out of the way, but that the situation improved after Q1 with six fewer cars on the track.

    “Q1 was very scrappy because of traffic but I guess it was similar for everyone,” said Kvyat.

    “I was very lucky to get through Q1 actually because we had at least two cars on the line, so no one really cares, no one moves away.

    “But anyway that’s the modern drivers I guess.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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