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Hamilton clinches pole as Vettel surprises

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Stupendous Lewis Hamilton clinches second pole, Sebastian Vettel has split the two Mercedes cars, and also brilliant job from Max Verstappen, the Dutch youngster will start from sixth for Malaysian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, who will start on pole: “I think the first lap was good, it’s always difficult in conditions like that and not one of us have driven in the wet this weekend. You don’t want to take too much risk. The next one was up and then we lost some but generally it was a fantastic job by the team.”

Sebastian Vettel, who will start from second: “You never know [how tomorrow could go]. Just look outside, when it starts to rain here it can mix up things. It was an interesting qualifying session, the car felt good in both conditions and the car looked good on long runs in practice. We will see what we can do tomorrow.”

Nico Rosberg, who will start from third: “Third is not good for tomorrow but that is the way it is. It was interesting conditions out there, I have seldom had so much grip in wet conditions. Third is on the clean side of the grid, so that should help me get past Sebastian Vettel at the start.”

Qualifying promised to be a battle between team-mates at the top. No wonder who would lock the front row out as Mercedes looked might quick from the rest. It can be taken from the practice that Raikkonen and Vettel would have a bit of advantage over the Williams pair who was closely followed by Riccardo and the Toro Rossos. McLaren’s woes continued with lack of pace as they were set to find it difficult to not to get knocked out from the first part of qualifying.

Q1: “Showers are building up” was the call for Force India’s Hulkenberg as first part of qualifying came alive with cars heading out on to the track. Verstappen was locking up all day while the familiar lightning threatened from distance. Hamilton set the lap of 1:39.269 to set the timing screen alight followed a little while later by Bottas who moved to second.

Rosberg registered a quick lap to tuck in behind his teammate ahead of Vettel. Meanwhile, Lotus’ Grosjean put himself into contention for Q3 with a move up to tenth ahead of Ericsson. As the ambience got darker, the fight for a spot in Q2 continued. McLaren must be disappointed with the elimination as Button out qualified only Alonso and Merhi for 17th. Nasr finished a lowly 16th while Sauber teammate Ericsson completed an impressive 7th. Both Manor drivers were subjected to steward’s dispensation to race.

Eliminated: Nasr, Button, Alonso, Merhi and Stevens.

Q2: As spots of rain expected all the drivers wasted no time and made their way to the track for a Q3 berth. Vettel crossed the line with a time of 1:39.6 but it wasn’t quite enough to beat the charging Rosberg.

Couple of minutes later it really started raining hard as Raikkonen was caught out in traffic behind Ericsson and finished his flying lap 11th. He was told on the radio that it’d be almost impossible to improve on the time set as rain started to pour down. Ericsson just about hung on to 10th as Grosjean took the condition prevailing to full effect and finished 5th.

Eliminated: Raikkonen, Maldonado, Hulkenberg, Perez and Sainz Jr

Q3: The top ten shoot out was delayed by 15 minutes due to the heavy downpour. As the rain eased off it appeared to be anyone’s game now. The silence broke when the cars came out of pits for the final showdown. Bottas and Massa lined up first ahead of Ericsson, Vettel, Ricciardo and the rest with some choosing full wets whilst the rest strapped on inters.

Bottas abandoned his lap as Williams sooner found out that inters were much faster. Hamilton did a outstanding time of 1:49.834as Rosberg managed a lap 1.3 seconds off the pace ahead of Verstappen, Vettel, Kvyat, Ericsson and Ricciardo. Vettel moved up to third on his next flying lap as both Williams tried out their fast laps on intermediate tyres.

Ricciardo improved his time to go two places higher while Vettel did a purple sector 1 and crossed the line seven hundredths down on Hamilton to split the Merc pair after nine races without anyone doing so.

Hamilton could not improve on his final lap but it was good enough for pole in his 150th GP. Rosberg struggled in his final flyer to only end up third ahead of the Red Bulls Ricciardo and Kvyat. Verstappen made history by becoming the youngest driver to finish sixth in qualifying in front of Massa, Bottas, Grosjean and Ericsson.

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