Hamilton Edges Vettel To Take Wet Malaysia Pole

Lewis Hamilton celebrates his second consecutive pole win Saturday in Malaysia. It is his 33rd pole win, tying him with Jim Clark. [Photo by Getty Images]

SEPANG, Malaysia- Despite even the wettest of conditions, Lewis Hamilton proved that he remains one of the top drivers as the Briton topped the timesheets with a 1:59:431 fastest lap to just edge out a reemerging Sebastian Vettel by five tenths of a second to take pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Malaysia. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate and series leader, Nico Rosberg was third.

Hamilton’s pole win ties him with the legendary Jim Clark with 33, and although this pole was his second in a row, he was more concerned that Vettel and Red Bull Racing, who are beginning to come back and become challengers.

“I’m a little all over the place at the moment, I’m really happy ,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to make the most out of the inters and by the time I got to the full wets it was much easier. I was very surprised. In qualifying so much is going on so sometimes you forget the situations you are in and you wish you had another lap. For sure I don’t fully understand why everyone closed up and why the Red Bulls got so close but that’s something we have to work on. They have always been quick in the wet. I think we have a great opportunity with a great car and the team is just performing spectacularly right now so hopefully that should see us through to the finish line. The priority for the team, Nico and me both, is to get as many points as possible this weekend.”
The points that they might score could be difficult as the first qualifying session was delayed for a total of 50 minutes due to an oncoming storm that dropped inches of rain, making it impossible to drive on. Although after a while, rain kept falling but lightly, the session went ahead but the drivers became aware that full wets were still not needed. Caterham rookie Marcus Ericsson hydroplaned his car midway through the session at turn three, and slammed into the barrier, sending debris all over the track. With only 40 seconds to go, officials decided that the session would end, rather than stopping it and waiting longer for it to resume

The second session was a big problem for Williams’s drivers, Felipe Massa and Valterri Bottas, as both drivers struggled in the continuing wet and never proceeded to the final session. Fernando Alonso moved on to session three, but had to endure an incident with Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne who stuck the Ferrari driver at turn nine, breaking Alonso’s front left wishbone and bringing out a red flag.

But the final session and the day belonged to Hamilton, who continued to give his Mercedes team the chance for becoming the favorite for Sunday’s race. As for the rest of the grid, Alonso returned to the track after his incident to take fourth, while Daniel Riccardo kept the surprise for Red Bull continuing by finishing in fifth. Kimi Raikkonen was sixth, and Nico Hulkenberg was seventh. Kevin Magnussen, Vergne and Jenson Button rounded out the top ten.

Hamilton afterwards was very aware of the record that he just tied, and felt much honored by it.

“I’m very, very proud to represent the UK. “He said. “To be up there with a name such as James Hunt… James Clark… Jim Clark, sorry, is really a great honor. Today was just incredible, firstly how much it rained before qualifying and then the first session was incredibly difficult for everybody. Particularly at the end it was almost impossible to see. I couldn’t do my last lap, I just couldn’t see a thing behind Hulkenberg. I couldn’t see where the track went, didn’t know when the corners were or where to brake, and at the start of the lap I couldn’t even see where Alonso was behind me so it was impossible to try and get a gap. I had to bail out fortunately, it was very close, a little bit too close, but I’m happy to be there.”

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