Lewis Hamilton was 'really happy' after qualifying second today for the Malaysian Grand Prix and freely admitted that the pace of his McLaren MP4-26 was better than he had anticipated.

Hamilton, who had been quickest in final practice this morning, looked strong throughout qualifying and he initially set the marker in the top-ten shoot-out for pole.

However the Englishman was edged out late on by reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who pipped him to P1 by just 0.104 seconds. Despite having to settle for second though, Hamilton remains bullish and he is now looking forward to battling with the German for the win.

"That was an almost perfect lap - I lost a tenth-and-a-half in Turn 14 - so we're much closer to the front than we'd anticipated, which is positive for us," Hamilton said after Q3.

"I'm really happy to be up on the front row. Hopefully, I'll have a better start than I did in Melbourne, so we can have more of a fight and I'll get a chance to compete with Sebastian at the first corner and for the first couple of laps.

"It's looking like a three-stop race tomorrow. It's been dry for the past two days, so I hope it's dry tomorrow.

"Being on the front row certainly helps when it rains, and it also gives us more opportunities to take a step forward."

Meanwhile, Hamilton is convinced McLaren will be able to get on terms with and then pull ahead of Red Bull over the coming months.

"I have no doubt that we can overtake Red Bull in the development battle - it's just a question of when," he continued.

"We have to keep pushing to bring new components to the races; we can push this car to the maximum."



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