Lewis Hamilton has secured successive pole positions in the space of a week after he claimed the P1 starting spot for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, the first time the Woking outfit starts from pole at Sepang. With Jenson Button lining up alongside him, this marked the first back-to-back McLaren all front row since the 2007 season.
After claiming the best qualifying result since his comeback to the sport last weekend, Michael Schumacher went one better this weekend and will start from third place in his Mercedes AMG, which was the fastest car through the speed trap in qualifying. He shares the second row of the grid with Mark Webber, who outqualified team-mate and defending champion Sebastian Vettel once again.
The rain again stayed away for the three phases of qualifying, and it was little surprise to see HRT, Marussia and Caterham knocked out in the first stage, although HRT at least managed to get both of its cars inside the 107% cut-off.
Webber was the quickest driver in Q1, edging out Schumacher, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldonado. There was concern in the lower reaches of the timesheets, with Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Bruno Senna narrowly managing to edge out Toro Rosso rookie Jean-Éric Vergne after the Frenchman had a problem on his final flying lap.
The second phase of qualifying saw Kimi Räikkönen – who will incur a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change – as the fastest driver, ahead of Button, Rosberg and Schumacher. Those eliminated included Pastor Maldonado – who had a wild off-track moment at Turn 10 – along with Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hülkenberg and Kamui Kobayashi.
The first Q3 hot-lap attempts were underway, and Hamilton quickly staked his claim for pole position, and clocked a rapid 1:36.219 despite a considerable lock-up at the final corner.
A cleaner lap from team-mate Button didn’t quite prove quick enough, and he lines up alongside his team-mate for the second race running, 0.149 seconds slower.
Button had demoted Schumacher from second place, denying the 43-year-old the honour of being the oldest front-row starter since Sir Jack Brabham in 1970, but it was still an impressive single-run effort from the seven-time World Champion.
Webber finished up fourth-fastest and team-mate Vettel was sixth, with the defending champion opting to set his hot-lap on the harder tyre compounds – a unique decision that could give the German a significant advantage tomorrow.
The pair was split on the timesheets by Räikkönen, but the Finn will start from tenth place as a result of his grid penalty, promoting team-mate Grosjean into sixth, followed by Nico Rosberg (who had a ragged hot-lap attempt in his Mercedes), Fernando Alonso and Sergio Pérez.
2012 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Results:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes||1:37.813||1:37.106||1:36.219|
|2.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||1:37.575||1:36.928||1:36.368|
|3.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1||1:37.517||1:37.017||1:36.391|
|4.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:37.172||1:37.375||1:36.461|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen*||Lotus F1 Renault||1:37.961||1:36.715||1:36.461|
|6.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault||1:38.102||1:37.419||1:36.634|
|7.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault||1:38.058||1:37.338||1:36.658|
|8.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1||1:37.696||1:37.996||1:36.664|
|9.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari||1:38.151||1:37.379||1:37.566|
|10.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari||1:37.933||1:37.477||1:37.698|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault||1:37.789||1:37.589|
|12.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari||1:38.381||1:37.731|
|13.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault||1:38.437||1:37.841|
|14.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes||1:38.325||1:37.877|
|15.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:38.419||1:37.883|
|16.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes||1:38.303||1:37.890|
|17.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari||1:38.372||1:38.069|
|18.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:39.077|
|19.||Heikki Kovalainen*||Caterham Renault||1:39.306|
|20.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault||1:39.567|
|21.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth||1:40.903|
|22.||Charles Pic||Marussia Racing Cosworth||1:41.250|
|23.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth||1:42.914|
|24.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth||1:43.655|
* Will incur five-place grid penalty
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