F1: Malaysian Grand Prix - Pole position puts Hamilton in Clark’s class

World champion Vettel to start second after rain-hit qualifying session sees Hamilton equal Jim Clarke's British record with his 33rd pole

Lewis Hamilton took his 33rd pole position at a wet Sepang, and in doing so joined the great Jim Clark as Britain’s most successful qualifier.

It was a close-run thing ahead of Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel took his revived Red Bull to second place, with Australian GP winner Nico Rosberg third.

After a series of delays due to heavy rain prior to the session, Hamilton and Rosberg had looked strong, but as the former admitted, Red Bull always seem to pull out something when it is wet. “I’m a little all over the place at the moment but I’m really happy with the job the team have done,” Hamilton said. “It was incredible how much it rained during the session and it was very tricky. At the end it was almost impossible to see where the track went.”

Once Red Bull had cured a problem on Vettel’s car by resetting its electronic systems, the fight was on, but Hamilton triumphed by 0.05sec. He went into the race hoping for better reliability than in Australia and to close the 25-point gap to Rosberg in the drivers’ championship. “Definitely the focus is to get some points, so fingers crossed Nico and I both see our way to the finish,” he said. “I’m very, very proud to be representing Britain and to be among names like Jim Clark’s. It’s a real honour to be there.”

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was the first driver to pick up three points under a new “driving licence” points system for impeding Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, as well as a three-place grid penalty.

Final Positions after Qualifying: 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1min 59.431secs, 2 Sebastian Vettel(Ger)Red Bull 1:59.486, 3 Nico Rosberg(Ger)Mercedes GP 2:00.050, 4 Fernando Alonso(Spa)Ferrari 2:00.175, 5 Daniel Ricciardo(Aus)Red Bull 2:00.541, 6 Kimi Raikkonen(Fin)Ferrari 2:01.218, 7 Nico Hulkenberg(Ger)Force India 2:01.712, 8 Kevin Magnussen(Den)McLaren 2:02.213, 9 Jean-Eric Vergne(Fra)Scuderia Toro Rosso 2:03.078, 10 Jenson Button(Gbr)McLaren 2:04.053, 11 Daniil Kvyat(Rus)Scuderia Toro Rosso 2:02.351, 12 Esteban Gutierrez(Mex)Sauber-Ferrari 2:02.369, 13 Felipe Massa(Bra)Williams 2:02.460, 14 Sergio Perez(Mex)Force India 2:02.511, 15 Valtteri Bottas(Fin)Williams 2:02.756, 16 Romain Grosjean(Fra)Lotus F1 Team 2:02.885, 17 Pastor Maldonado(Ven)Lotus F1 Team 2:02.074, 18 Adrian Sutil(Ger)Sauber-Ferrari 2:02.131, 19 Jules Bianchi(Fra)Marussia 2:02.702, 20 Kamui Kobayashi(Jpn)Caterham 2:03.595, 21 Max Chilton(Gbr)Marussia 2:04.388, 22 Marcus Ericsson(Swe) Caterham 2:04.407

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