Malaysian GP: Hamilton blitzes pole as Rosberg toils

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, dominating all three qualifying sessions as his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg struggled to seal a spot on the front row.

Malaysian GP: Hamilton blitzes pole as Rosberg toils
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 Team
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
Esteban Ocon, Manor Racing MRT05
Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-16
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-16
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-16
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF16-H

Hamilton scored his eighth pole of 2016 –  his third on the trot here and his fourth overall at Sepang – as teammate Rosberg simply couldn’t live with his raw pace.

Rosberg, who’s never started from pole in Malaysia, suffered a dreadful first run that was topped by both Red Bulls and a Ferrari.

Rosberg had to rely on his final run to join Hamilton on the front row but was almost half a second slower.

The Red Bulls locked out the second row, Max Verstappen just shading Daniel Ricciardo.

Story of the top-10 shootout

Rosberg’s first attempt in Q3 was disappointing, with a huge wobble in Turn 6 and a sideways exit from the final corner that limited him to fifth after the opening run.

In contrast, Hamilton produced a stunning 1m32.850s at his first attempt, 0.57s quicker than Verstappen, who was a tenth up on Ricciardo.

Rosberg had to rely on his second run, and produced a 1m33.264s despite another big moment at the final hairpin, which was 0.414s but two tenths clear of Verstappen. Hamilton aborted his second run after a huge lock-up at Turn 1.

Verstappen failed to improve on his second run, only managing a 1m33.604s. Ricciardo went faster on his final attempt, his 1m33.467s only 0.047s off Verstappen’s time.

Sebastian Vettel snatched fourth from Kimi Raikkonen in the battle of the Ferraris on his final run, but was 0.117s shy of beating a Red Bull.

Sergio Perez was best of the rest for Force India, over a tenth ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

McLaren’s Jenson Button only made one run in Q3 after his heroics to get through, but only managed the ninth-fastest time, beating the Williams of Felipe Massa for his 300th GP start.

Button stars to escape Q2

The battle to make it through Q2 was always going to be a tight one, as McLaren’s Button took the fight to the top teams and successfully made it through to the top-10 shootout.

Button’s last-gasp 1m34.431s put him eighth fastest, as Hulkenberg pushed out the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, while teammate Perez also improved but stayed 10th.

Bottas will start 11th, ahead of the Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was a strong 14th after his excellent Singapore GP – and this was also a great recovery from Friday’s pit fire.

Daniil Kvyat beat Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz for 15th.

Hamilton beat Rosberg in this session by 0.563s, despite a moment, with a 1m33.046s using the soft tyres with which he’ll start the grand prix.

Red Bull outpaced the Ferraris here, but with only two tenths between all four cars.

Magnussen escapes Q1; Saubers top Palmer

Renault’s Magnussen produced the great escape in this session, setting an impressive 13th-fastest time.

In the closing moments of Q1, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr outpaced Renault’s Jolyon Palmer by 0.050s, but then Marcus Ericsson came along and beat them both. Palmer was unable to improve on his final lap.

Ericsson will start 17th, ahead of Nasr and Palmer. Esteban Ocon outqualified Pascal Wehrlein for the first time in the battle of the Mercedes juniors at Manor, but Ocon is likely to face an investigation from stewards after Button had to overtake him at Turn 9 while the Frenchman was on an in-lap.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso qualified in last place as expected, as he was always destined to start from the rear due to grid penalties.

His teammate Button spun on his first Q1 attempt at Turn 14 when he happened across Magnussen’s Renault on the exit of a right-hander. “There’s so much traffic; they’re not getting out of the way either,” he grumbled.

“The Manor has to get a penalty, I had to overtake him under braking on a slow lap,” he added.

Palmer had a big moment through the high-speed sweeper at Turn 6, just before Grosjean had a scare in his cockpit: “I just got my right mirror in my face,” he complained as his rear-view mirror came adrift. “The right mirror flew, so help me with traffic.”

Hamilton beat Rosberg by 0.016s to top this session.

ClaDriverChassisEngineTimeGap
1  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 1'32.850  
2  Nico Rosberg  Mercedes Mercedes 1'33.264 0.414
3  Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 1'33.420 0.570
4  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 1'33.467 0.617
5  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 1'33.584 0.734
6  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 1'33.632 0.782
7  Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 1'34.319 1.469
8  Nico Hulkenberg  Force India Mercedes 1'34.489 1.639
9  Jenson Button  McLaren Honda 1'34.518 1.668
10  Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes 1'34.671 1.821
11  Valtteri Bottas  Williams Mercedes 1'34.577 1.727
12  Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 1'35.001 2.151
13  Esteban Gutierrez  Haas Ferrari 1'35.097 2.247
14  Kevin Magnussen  Renault Renault 1'35.277 2.427
15  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso Ferrari 1'35.369 2.519
16  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso Ferrari 1'35.374 2.524
17  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 1'35.816 2.966
18  Felipe Nasr  Sauber Ferrari 1'35.949 3.099
19  Jolyon Palmer  Renault Renault 1'35.999 3.149
20  Esteban Ocon  Manor Mercedes 1'36.451 3.601
21  Pascal Wehrlein  Manor Mercedes 1'36.587 3.737
22  Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 1'37.155 4.305
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