Lewis Hamilton took a huge step towards his fourth Formula 1 drivers' championship by taking pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday as chief title rival Sebastian Vettel failed to set a time in Q1, resigning him to the back of the grid for the start of the race.

Vettel suffered an electronic issue in final practice, forcing Ferrari to change the engine on his car ahead of qualifying, only completing the fix after the start of the session.

When completing his outlap, Vettel suffered a loss of power on his car that forced him to slow before returning to the pits, reporting a possible issue with the turbocharger on his power unit.

Despite the team's best efforts to get the car fixed before the end of the session, Vettel was unable to get back out on-track, leaving him P20 overall in the final standings.

This handed Hamilton a golden chance to capitalise amid their fight for the drivers' title, which he did with style in Q3 by setting a new track record of 1:30.076.

Hamilton was closely-matched with Kimi Raikkonen in the sole remaining Ferrari and the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen through the early stages of qualifying, but pulled clear in Q3 to bag his 70th F1 pole position.

A slow second run from Hamilton gave Raikkonen the chance to snatch pole away, only for the Finn to make an error at the final corner and fall 0.045 seconds short, taking P2.

Verstappen wound up third ahead of Ricciardo in P4, while Valtteri Bottas was six-tenths of a second shy of his teammate back in fifth for Mercedes.

Force India finished as the best of the rest with Esteban Ocon in sixth, while Stoffel Vandoorne impressed for McLaren in P7. Nico Hulkenberg was eighth for Renault, with Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso completing the top 10.

Williams suffered a double-Q2 dropout as Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll ended qualifying 11th and 13th respectively, split by Renault's Jolyon Palmer, who was three-tenths adrift of teammate Hulkenberg as he failed to carry the momentum from Singapore into the Saturday session.

Pierre Gasly will make his F1 debut from 15th place on the grid, qualifying less than two-tenths of a second slower than teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in P14. Gasly managed to outpace Sainz through Q1, but failed to improve through his final lap, complaining about a slow gear shift costing him time.

Haas had a qualifying to forget as both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen dropped out in Q1, finishing 16th and 17th respectively, while the Sauber duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson assumed their usual spots, taking 18th and 19th ahead of the stricken Vettel.



Loading Comments...