Lewis Hamilton was one of a number of the 'big guns' left bitterly disappointed at the end of qualifying for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix after he was caught out by the weather and eliminated in the first session.

Hamilton sat out the early part of Q1 - along with his McLaren team-mate, Jenson Button and the Ferrari's of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, as there was a belief there wouldn't be anymore rain.

However, that gamble backfired when conditions actually deteriorated and Lewis consequently found himself unable to progress, around two tenths off P17, his best lap a 1 minute 53.050 seconds.

Hamilton will now start 20th and while he was philosophical, it is still a major blow, especially as he had been so competitive in practice - dominating proceedings on Friday and then going second quickest this morning in FP3.

"This was just one of those days. It had been a very good weekend for us up until qualifying started, and the simple fact is that we didn't expect it to rain any more. We went out at a similar time to the other top teams, and as a result quite a lot of us were all out of luck," Hamilton reflected.

"By the time I got out there, there were lots of yellow flags about, so you just couldn't nail it - and then it started to rain more heavily. You couldn't feel a thing - it was so, so slippery. It was easy to come off - I had a spin on my first lap, in fact - but I did the best job I could in the circumstances.

"I'd been fastest all weekend, but what can we do? We've just got to shrug it off. And, as I always, say, I'll never give up.

"That's why I'm not only focusing on the fast cars around me, I'm focusing on everyone - including those who are quite a few rows in front of me. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and I'm going to race my heart out."

Jenson Button meanwhile also had a miserable session. Indeed while he posted a time good enough to get through to Q2, he couldn't take advantage of it as he aquaplaned off the track and got stuck in the gravel before Q1 ended. He will start Sunday's race from 17th.

"We thought the first rainstorm was it, and there was nothing else coming, so we waited. I guess events proved it was the wrong thing to do," Button added. "My first lap on Inters felt okay. The thing is, you get no real warning; the first sector of the lap was quite dry, then you get to the fast left-right and it's really wet. I just aquaplaned off and got stuck in the gravel. I couldn't do anything about it.

"I just hope I haven't damaged anything on the car because I was sat in the gravel with the engine running for some time, hoping to get pulled out.

"It was a strange, disappointing session - both Lewis and I went out early. But, even so, I'm in front of three of my world championship rivals on tomorrow's grid, and I suppose that's the best way of looking at it."

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh was similarly left rather red-faced and frustrated: "To qualify only 17th and 20th with what today's final practice session had clearly demonstrated was a highly competitive car was of course very disappointing for all concerned," he continued.

"So why did it happen? It happened because several teams, having consulted the weather radar, believed that the rain that was falling just prior to the start of Q1 would pass through and that the end of Q1 would be therefore by much drier. As we now know, it didn't turn out like that.

"With hindsight it would therefore have been better if we'd sent our cars out at the beginning of Q1, instead of waiting for what the weather radar had told us would be drier and faster conditions.

"Having said all that, we're now looking forward to a very exciting and hopefully very eventful race in which Jenson and Lewis, who are two of the most determined racers in the sport today, can produce a result for us that's significantly better than our qualifying performance this afternoon."


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