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Hamilton grabs 21st pole in Malaysian heat

March 25, 2012

© Creative Commons / Will Pittenger

TV Notes

Lewis Hamilton secured the 21st pole position of his Formula 1 career for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

The McLaren pilot registered his quick time – 1:36.219 – in his opening run in Q3; however it proved quick enough to not necessitate a second fast stint.

Hamilton’s teammate, Jenson Button, made it an all-McLaren front row thanks to a faster second run toward the end of Q3. Indeed, it was an effort that kept the Briton only one-tenth ahead of the resurgent Michael Schumacher (Mercedes, 3rd) and Mark Webber (Red Bull, 4th).

Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen initially took 5th, but will start 10th after he picked up a five-place grid penalty for an early gearbox change.
Raikkonen’s penalty promoted Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel to 5th, with the other Lotus of Romain Grosjean filling out the third row. In what could prove to be a key move for Vettel, the German set his time on the harder Pirelli tyres – a tactic avoided by the rest of the top ten.

Qualifying 7th, Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) finds himself in rather familiar territory. The German pilot set a time well up on Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (8th) and Sergio Perez (Sauber, 9th) – all whom completed only a single run.

Pastor Maldonado just missed out on Q3, despite having a major off-track excursion on his opening Q2 run. The Venezuelan flung his Williams FW34 across the turn ten gravel, damaging the car’s bargeboards in the process.
Despite this, Maldonado took 11th, just two-tenths ahead of the disappoint(ed / ing) Felip Massa (Ferrari, 12th).

Led by the second Williams of Bruno Senna, the following quartet were split by a mere five-hundredths of-a-second. In the scramble for minor placings, Senna nudged in front of Paul di Resta (14th) and Nico Hulkenberg (16th), with Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo splitting the Force India duo.
Kamui Kobayashi’s difficult weekend continued, with the Sauber man finishing Q2 in 17th position, more than half-a-second shy of the cut-off time.

Memories of the Toro Rosso’s startling performance in Australia faded somewhat, as both Ricciardo and teammate Jean-Eric Vergne struggled in the Malaysian heat. It would see Vergne lose out in Q1 – the Frenchman destroyed his tyres on his “fast lap”, leaving him six-tenths away from the cut-off.
Unsurprisingly, Caterham led the regulars once again; however Vitaly Petrov will assume 19th, following a penalty for Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn was handed with five-place grid drop for passing under the safety car in Melbourne – Kovalainen will now start last.

At Marussia, Timo Glock out-qualified new teammate Charles Pic, while both HRT’s – headed by Pedro de la Rosa – made the race comfortably.

Pos  Driver                Team                 Time         Gap    
 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m36.219s
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m36.368s   + 0.149
 3.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m36.391s   + 0.172
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.461s   + 0.242
 5.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.634s   + 0.415
 6.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m36.658s   + 0.439
 7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m36.664s   + 0.445
 8.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m37.566s   + 1.347
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m37.698s   + 1.479
10.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m36.461s   + 0.242*
Q2 cut-off time: 1m37.477s                                  Gap to Q2
11.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m37.589s   + 0.874
12.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m37.731s   + 1.016
13.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m37.841s   + 1.126
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m37.877s   + 1.162
15.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m37.883s   + 1.168
16.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m37.890s   + 1.175
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.069s   + 1.354
Q1 cut-off time: 1m38.437s                                  Gap to Q1
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m39.077s   + 1.905
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m39.567s   + 2.395
20.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m40.903s   + 3.731
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.250s   + 4.078
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m42.914s   + 5.742
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m43.655s   + 6.483
24.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m39.306s   + 2.134* 
107% time: 1m43.974s
*Raikkonen and Kovalainen receive 5-place grid penalties
^Notes compiled from live updates and team releases.
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