Malaysian Grand Prix: Hamilton digs deep to take 70th career pole
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News September 30, 2017 Updated: 8:55 PM
SEPANG, Malaysia -- Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton delivered, overcoming pressure from Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen to take has 70th career pole with Sebastian Vettel starting tomorrow's race from the back of the grid.
"We had such a difficult day yesterday; it was difficult to know where we stood. I didn’t sleep very well last night, just like all my engineers, because we didn’t know whether we were going to fix the issue or not. But today we arrived and the car was much better. The Q3 laps, particularly the first one, were very well put together. To be honest, I didn’t really know where it came from. So it’s a bit of a surprise to be on pole, but I’m very grateful. It’s always a special thing when you’re able to extract a little bit more out of the car. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed since my dad would say that my first go-kart was fifth hand," said Hamilton.
Hamilton finished a half a tenth of a second ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen after a difficult start to the weekend with Mercedes failing to show any solid pace. Raikkonen finished second but a small mistake on has final Q3 run cost him what could have been his second pole of the season.
Red bull's Max Verstappen took third as the young Dutchmen, who turns twenty years old today was hoping for a nice birthday present in the form of a front row start. Teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who won last year's Malaysia Grand Prix, finished fourth but showed strong pace during Friday's practice sessions.
Fifth went to Valtteri Bottas who qualified 0.682s behind his teammate. Force India's Esteban Ocon took sixth ahead the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne seventh. Nico Hulkenberg, who will be teammates with Carlos Sainz next season, finished eighth followed by Sergio Perez in ninth.
Perez will be showing support for his country of Mexico, which is still recovering from the devastation of three major earthquakes, by sporting a special sticker, #FuerzaMexico on the side of his car and the back of his helmet. “I’m deeply concerned for what my country is living,” Perez said. “It’s time to be united.”
Vandoorne's teammate Fernando Alonso took the tenth and final points scoring position on the grid.
Outside the top ten was Williams' driver Felipe Massa in 11th along with Jolyon Palmer in the second Renault in 12th.
Massa's teammate Lance Stroll finished 13th with Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz, who normally finds his way into the top ten, struggled to finish 14th. F1 debutante Pierre Gasly took 15th.
"Your first qualifying in Formula 1 is always a special moment and one I was really looking forward to! I tried to give my best and I think we made really good progress between FP3 and Qualifying. I felt comfortable in the car in Q1 and then, in Q2, I kept on learning while giving my all and I’d say we can be satisfied with the result! I now look forward to tomorrow, my first Formula 1 race and something I’ve been dreaming of since I was very young," said Gasly.
The final five cars on the grid consisted of Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in 16th and 17th and the Sauber's of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson in 18th and 19th.
Sebastian Vettel's team discovered an electrical issue with his car early on in the final practice session, but unfortunately the problem persisted into qualifying forcing him to retire from the session. With the chance of rain tomorrow, Vettel will have significant work to do if he is to keep his championship hopes alive.