• Malaysian Grand Prix - Qualifying

Hamilton grabs second consecutive pole

ESPNF1 Staff
March 24, 2012
Lewis Hamilton surpassed Fernando Alonso with his 21st career pole position © Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix as McLaren secured its second consecutive front row lock-out.

After dominating qualifying in Australia it's the same front row in Malaysia as Hamilton beat Jenson Button by just 0.15s. It was a similar story too as Hamilton pulled out a sublime lap on his first run in Q3 and didn't need to improve, while Button's second lap allowed him to get close to his team-mate's time of 1:36.219.

Michael Schumacher was third for Mercedes - his best result since returning to Formula One in 2010 as he was just edged off the front row by Button at the end of the session. Mark Webber will be alongside him after outqualifying Sebastian Vettel for the second race in succession. Webber's 1:36.461 was identical to Kimi Raikkonen's impressive time, but Raikkonen will take a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Vettel was sixth fastest but set his fastest lap time on the hard tyre as Red Bull pulled out a clever strategic move. Having been a second off the pace on his first runs on medium tyres Vettel switched to the tyre expected to be better in the race and just stayed ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg as the top eight were separated by less than half a second. Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez round out the top ten.

Felipe Massa was the biggest name to drop out in the second session, even though Ferrari didn't expect to be competitive during qualifying. He ended up 12th behind Pastor Maldonado who ruined his chances by damaging his car when running off in to the gravel at turn ten early in Q2. Bruno Senna was still 0.3s off his team-mate as neither Williams made it in to Q3, while both Force India's dropped out alongside Daniel Ricciardo and the disappointing Kamui Kobayashi who was over half a second slower than Perez.

Massa was under pressure from the start of qualifying as he sat 18th for most of Q1, needing a late lap on medium tyres to promote himself up to 15thh eventually. In the end it was Jean-Eric Vergne who dropped out in the first session after locking up heavily on his flying lap and flat spotting his front right tyre. The vibrations were visible from the on-board camera and Vergne was forced to pit.

Also dropping out were the usual suspects of Heikki Kovalainen, Vitaly Petrov, Timo Glock, Charles Pic, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan. It was a good session for HRT, however, as both cars qualified within the 107% time and will be able to start the race tomorrow. Kovalainen will start 24th as a result of a five-place grid penalty carried over from the Australian Grand Prix.