Hamilton splashes to pole for Malaysian GP

Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:35am EDT
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By Patrick Johnston

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton made it two poles in two races after emerging unscathed from an incident-packed and rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

The Briton saw off Red Bull's quadruple Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel by 0.055 of a second in a session with two red flags, grid penalties, a 50 minute rain delay and more downpours throughout that left drivers struggling for visibility.

The pole was the 33rd of Hamilton's career, equaling the British record held by the late Jim Clark since 1964, and was secured in a time of one minute 59.431 seconds.

"I'm really happy with how well we've done over the weekend, but today was incredible, how heavy was the rain?" Hamilton told reporters.

"It was tricky out there for everyone because at the end it was almost impossible to see. I couldn't see where the track went, where the corners were, where to break.

"I had to bail out of my final fast lap, so it was very close."

Vettel's lap was an impressive turnaround for the German, who retired in Melbourne two weeks ago, after he was called back to the pits after only three laps of the first phase of qualifying with an energy store problem.

The champion re-emerged after a reset of the system and became progressively competitive as the rain grew stronger and felt he could have taken pole had he been able to get in another lap in the final 15 minute session.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain gives the thumbs-up after the qualifying session for the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur, March 29, 2014. REUTERS/Samsul Said