Hamilton leads another McLaren one-two in Malaysia

 

Lewis Hamilton again spearheaded an all-McLaren front row on the day Michael Schumacher secured his best grid position for five and a half years.

After securing pole last week in Australia, Hamilton made it two in a row for the first time since September 2009 by grabbing top spot for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The 27-year-old finished 0.149secs ahead of team-mate Jenson Button as they repeated their one-two from Melbourne's Albert Park, Hamilton clocking a lap of one minute 36.219secs.

Lining up directly behind them, though, is seven-times champion Schumacher in third in his Mercedes as the 43-year-old rolled back the years.

The last time Schumacher was so high on the grid was during his final days of his first Formula One career with Ferrari when he qualified second in the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2006.

Mark Webber grabbed fourth in his Red Bull, again finishing ahead of team-mate and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel as the 24-year-old repeated his sixth place from Melbourne.

Vettel, however, will move up to fifth tomorrow as Kimi Raikkonen will drop five places to 10th after the gearbox in his Lotus was changed overnight.

Team-mate Romain Grosjean now starts sixth, with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg seventh and Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari eighth, with Sauber's Sergio Perez ninth.

Williams' Pastor Maldonado starts 11th ahead of Felipe Massa who, for the second successive race, missed out on a place in the top 10, this time by a quarter of a second.

Bruno Senna lines up 13th in his Williams, followed by Paul di Resta for Force India, the Scot just 13 thousandths of a second ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg in 16th.

Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo finds himself sandwiched between the Force India pair in 15th, with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi down in 17th and comprehensively thrashed by team-mate Perez.

After qualifying a superb 11th on his debut for Toro Rosso a week ago in Australia, it was back down to earth with a bump for Jean- Eric Vergne.

On this occasion the Frenchman failed to make it out of Q1 and will start 18th, finishing a considerable distance of almost 0.6secs off a spot in the second session.

Although Heikki Kovalainen qualified 19th, the Finn will drop to the back of the grid courtesy of a five-place penalty.

That was imposed after last Sunday's race at Melbourne's Albert Park for overtaking Vettel during the safety car period.

Caterham team-mate Vitaly Petrov will now occupy 19th, followed by the Marussia duo of Timo Glock and Charles Pic.

After failing to qualify last week, HRT pair Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan both fell within the 107% rule - the latter by 0.391secs - and so will start tomorrow's race.

 

After claiming the 21st pole of his career, and his first in Malaysia, Hamilton said: "We've had a good weekend so far.

"It's been a tough day with the change in weather conditions and the temperatures climbing.

"But we made some changes to the car and we managed to do some good times."

As for the race, and with Sepang boasting the second longest run down to turn one of the current F1 tracks, Hamilton was mindful of the fact he was beaten off the line last week by Button.

"I don't know if I'm in the best place," he added.

"It's a long haul down to turn one, but hopefully we'll have a car in a much better position for the race tomorrow."

Button is anticipating "an exciting start", but is wary of Schumacher behind him who made up more places on the opening laps of races last season than any other driver.

Button said: "The Mercedes is renowned for its starts, especially Michael, so we are going to have to be careful."

Although missing out on pole again to Hamilton, Button added: "Qualifying has been pretty good for me last two races, so I can't complain too much

"It's a one-two, although obviously I would want it the other way around."

Schumacher believes he achieved "the maximum available" and would not have got on to the front row after being knocked off in the dying stages.

Schumacher said: "We have managed to work the car well over the whole weekend so far.

"We're third here, which shows it's a very tight business, but we can be more than happy with what we've achieved."FIA Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Final Positions after Qualifying: 1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1mins 36.219secs,
2 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:36.368,
3 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:36.391,
4 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:36.461,
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus F1 Team 1:36.461,
6 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:36.634,
7 Romain Grosjean (Swi) Lotus F1 Team 1:36.658,
8 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:36.664,
9 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:37.566,
10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:37.698,
11 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:37.589,
12 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:37.731,
13 Bruno Senna (Bra) Williams 1:37.841,
14 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:37.877,
15 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:37.883,
16 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:37.890,
17 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.069,
18 Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:39.077,
19 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 1:39.306,
20 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham 1:39.567,
21 Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia 1:40.903,
22 Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia 1:41.250,
23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 1:42.914,
24 Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 1:43.655

PA

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