SEPANG, Malaysia -- Lewis Hamilton took pole position by 0.414s at the Malaysian Grand Prix, putting an end to any doubts over his form following his brief dip in Singapore.
Hamilton was faster than teammate Nico Rosberg in all three sectors, but made up the most time in the final corner where Rosberg lost the rear of his car under braking and sailed well wide of the apex. The result puts Hamilton in a strong position to close the gap to Rosberg in the drivers' championship on Sunday and puts Mercedes even closer to its third consecutive constructors' title.
Max Verstappen took third on the grid, 0.570s off Hamilton and just 0.156s off Rosberg. Up until the final run, Rosberg had been behind both Red Bulls and Kimi Raikkonen after running wide at Turn 6 on his first attempt. However, Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo couldn't quite match Rosberg on the second run and instead locked out the second row with just 0.047s.
Sebastian Vettel took fifth ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who made a mistake in the middle sector of his second attempt in Q3 and abandoned the lap. The two Ferraris finished 0.6s clear of the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and eight, with Jenson Button claiming ninth for McLaren. Felipe Massa made a mistake on his firanl run and will start the race from tenth.
Valtteri Bottas was 0.039s off a place in Q3 after a lock up in the final corner of his quick lap saw him lose out as Button improved and moved into the top ten. Romain Grosjean, who has been struggling with his car all weekend, was a further 0.424s down on Bottas, but took 12th ahead of Haas teammate Esteban Gutierrez. Kevin Magnussen finished 14th, which is something of an achievement for Renault as he edged out Toro Rosso drivers Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz.
Marcus Ericsson missed out on a place in Q2 by just 0.121s, but took some consolation from beating Sauber teammate Felipe Nasr to 17th. Jolyon Palmer was also knocked out in Q1 after locking a brake at the final corner of his flying lap. He will start ahead of Esteban Ocon, who beat Manor teammate Pascal Wehrlein for the first time in qualifying, although Wehrlein had a warning light on his cockpit. Fernando Alonso will start at the back of the grid due to his 45-place penalty for engine component changes, and as a result did not bother to set a quick lap in Q1.