Formula One News
Hamilton gets Malaysian F1 pole ahead of Button, Vettel trails
By Jens Marx Mar 24, 2012, 9:52 GMT
Sepang, Malaysia - Lewis Hamilton was on fire again on Saturday when he claimed the pole position for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix ahead of the McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
The McLarens led the way in the same order as a week ago at the season-opener in Australia while record champion Michael Schumacher impressed with his first top-three placing on the grid since returning to racing in 2010.
Red Bull trailed again, with Mark Webber fourth and world champion Sebastian Vettel sixth as in Melbourne. But Vettel will start the race from fifth place as Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus loses five places from his fifth-placed result because of a gearbox change.
Hamilton clocked 1 minute 36.219 seconds, Button had 1:36.368, Schumacher 1:36.391, Webber 1:36.461, Raikkonen also 1:36.461 and Vettel 1:36.634.
Button won in Australia ahead of Vettel and Hamilton, and none of the stars are taking anything for granted ahead of Sunday's race on the 5.543 Sepang circuit.
'I don't know if the best place to start is here (pole). There will be some interesting strategies. It's a long haul down to turn one. The key is looking after our tyres and hopefully our car is in a much better position for the race tomorrow,' said Hamilton.
The 2008 champion Hamilton was far from happy about finishing third a week ago and will have nothing but victory in mind.
Button overtook Hamilton at the start in Melbourne, but will keep a close look on Schumacher in the rear mirror on Sunday.
'Qualifying has been pretty good to me in the last two races so I can't complain too much. It's good for us as a team to be on the front row again. I wanted it the other way round, but Lewis did a great job.
'It's going to be an exciting start, but Mercedes and Michael are known for a good start as well,' the 2009 champ Button said.
Schumacher named third place 'the maximum that was available' and would like nothing more than to return to a race podium as well after being stopped by gearbox problems early in the Australian race.
'Third here is a very tight business so we can be more than happy and I look forward to tomorrow. We have learned quite a lesson in Australia and we have reacted. I'm more than happy with the progress,' the German said.
'Of course this is a nice return, even though it took a while. I would have liked to have sat here more often in the past two years.'
Vettel will have to play catch-up again as Red Bull remain a long shot away from the form of 2011 when they all but monopolised the pole position and Vettel drove away with the title.
The champion raised some eyebrows when he chose hard tyres for his final qualifying stint instead of the soft version.
'I didn't feel good on soft tyres. We tried (hard) and it worked well, otherwise we would have been further back. You can't expect miracles in a week,' he said.
'Anything is possible - including right to the top,' he added defiantly.
Ferrari were off the pace again, with two-times champion Fernando Alonso ninth and under-pressure Felipe Massa failing to make the final round of the best 10 drivers in 12th place.
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