Hamilton storms to pole in Malaysia

Sat Oct 1, 2016 7:09am EDT
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By Abhishek Takle

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - World champion Lewis Hamilton seized a dominant pole position in qualifying for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix with a storming lap on Saturday that was almost the fastest ever at the Sepang circuit.

The Briton lapped the 5.5-kilometre track in a stunning one minute 32.850, less than half a second off the quickest lap set by Fernando Alonso in 2005 during the V10-engine era, on a hot but overcast evening.

“Just a huge thank you to the team who continue through the whole year to improve,” Hamilton, chasing his 50th career win, told reporters.

“Great work done coming into this weekend… today the car felt fantastic. I really enjoyed the lap. (But) could’ve been faster,” he added.

The pole was the 57th of Hamilton’s career and eighth of the season. It was also his Mercedes team’s 51st pole from 54 races. The German squad have started all but one race from pole this year.

Hamilton’s championship-leading team mate Nico Rosberg will start alongside him in second after a scrappy lap that was 0.414 seconds off Hamilton’s mark and only slightly faster than Max Verstappen, who was third quickest for Red Bull.

German Rosberg, who has an eight-point advantage over Hamilton in the overall standings, had a strong start to the weekend.

He topped Friday's opening session but could not match his team mate when it really mattered, making mistakes at the altered final corner on his flying lap.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - Malaysia Grand Prix - Sepang, Malaysia- 1/10/16  Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton of Britain arrives ahead of the third practice. REUTERS/Edgar Su