Hamilton storms to Malaysia pole, Vettel last on grid

Posted October 01, 2017

Mercedes struggled to get its upgraded F1 vehicle working properly throughout the free practice sessions at the Sepang circuit, but turned things around just in time for Hamilton to get the job done in qualifying.

"We just didn't know if we were going to fix the issues or not". But you have to look ahead.

"Sepang will be more hard for us in terms of set-up since the straights require good speed and power, but this track is a mixture of a lot of different characteristics, so we'll see how much we can make up on the lower-speed corners", Alonso said in a statement.

Vettel headed team-mate Kimi Raikkonen by 0.604 seconds with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen third and fourth, and Hamilton sixth. He held a towel on his face for several moments and still seemed breathless before answering questions, his shoulders rising and falling slowly at one point as he took a long, deep breath. "It's not the first time I'm in the situation like this and probably will not be the last time".

"The first Q3 lap was very well put together, a very nice lap and I don't know where it came from to be honest, so I surprised myself".

Raikkonen turns 38 later this month, but the 2007 Formula One champion has been showing admirable form recently. "I was hopeful they would be quicker today but without a doubt tomorrow they will be on our tail". I have a good feeling about it.

"The first few corners are quite tight and a lot of things can happen then".

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Verstappen celebrated his 20th birthday with a fine drive.

Red Bull could also be in the frame this weekend. I'm developing a lot with this team and getting better. "I want to have a good Sunday, finally".

I hope for a clean race for a change after too many people being knocked out by over-ambitious moves in recent races. He now has seven wins for the 2017 season.

Ferrari had swapped Vettel's engine after third practice.

'Towards the end of the session, there was an electronic malfunction on Seb's auto and the engineers made a decision to change the internal combustion engine on his vehicle as a precaution, ' Ferrari said on its official website.

Sebastian Vettel was forced out after failing to make a timed lap in Q1.

"I don't look at it that way", said Vettel.

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"We didn't put the tyres in the right window the whole weekend and then when the temperatures dropped and cloud cover started to come over the circuit, the vehicle was very quick".

Vettel insisted his team was right to change his engine after FP3 as a precautionary measure. Any more will incur grid penalties.

But Vettel said that he had not given the crash much thought since because it was just "part of racing".

"Our record there in recent seasons has been mixed but the fundamental characteristics of the circuit, with its sweeping corners and long straights, should mean the vehicle is well-suited to the circuit", Wolff said. "If the safety auto comes out in a moment that suits you, it could bring you back into the game".

The Briton, 28 points ahead of Vettel, was a massive 1.416secs off the pace.

"It is very unfortunate for him but of course we have to focus on the job and try to maximise every opportunity we get collectively. I'm sorry for what happened to Sebastian and it is a real surprise to be up here with these guys", Hamilton said. "It's very unfortunate for him".

Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes W08 couldn't find the pace as his teammate after a number of changes to his vehicle for the weekend.

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"I've seen his engine blow up in Malaysia previous year with a solid lead that would have recovered his championship aspirations".