NOTEBOOK – Malaysian Qualifying

Features Notebook

Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a fourth world title appear to have been boosted after taking his fifth career pole at Sepang while his championship rival Sebastian Vettel starts last thanks to an engine failure meaning he starts last after failing to qualify.

Pole Lap – L. Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton comes out of turn fifteen and heads along the inside of the track before gentailly bringing his Mercedes across the track to head to the outside before breaking a 100m before the long Turn One. Heads across, runs around the apex before dipping down and hitting the white line at Two. He then runs across to the inside running around the kink and Three before going to the outside where he stays.

He then breaks into Four turning in from the 50m board hitting the apex and runs the car to the outside. Crosses back to the inside before lining up and carrying the speed into Six and gets a good run through the bends. Goes to the outside before breaking around 80m for Seven runs close to the apex throwing his car at the kerb, nicely through Eight. On the run to Nine, he crosses the track stays on outside breaks 80m before hitting the apex of the corner. Carries speed thorough Ten, breaks slightly into Eleven.

Runs to the outside and along into Twelve with him continuing to push the Mercedes through Thirteen. He then breaks into Fourteen running close to the apex and runs to the outside kerb. He then heads down the centre of the track, easing towards the inside and breaks into the hairpin staying on the outer curve running along the pit wall and across the line with a 01:30.076.

Vettel disaster

After qualifying, it emerged that what we all expected to be a precautionary engine change for Vettel was not a precautionary measure as the team originally claimed.

Following FP3, the team found an electrical problem forcing the engine change, though he got back out in Q1 a turbo pressure issue meant Vettel was unable to complete a timed lap in Q1.

The German said “We had the issue this morning and we decided to change the engine. Then I went out, everything was fine, and then during the flying lap in Turn 5 all of a sudden I lost power.

“I was lucky that we got back so we could have a look, but we couldn’t fix the problem on track. What happened is that I lost boost pressure, so I had no power basically, but why, we don’t know yet.”

Ferrari was trying everything to get him back out, but as they fired up the car the team found that the issue hadn’t been fixed.

“”It’s very bitter, but this is motor racing. It’s a shame because the car is quick, but that’s also a good thing because tomorrow we’ve got a lot of laps.I expect that we’ll get back [to the lead group], we have a quick car.

Vettel should have been in the mix at the front and yesterday Ferrari looked strong. He must feel that with Hamilton leading this championship and appearing to have momentum at the moment the championship is slipping away from him.


Valtteri Bottas says that he regrets sticking with Mercedes new aero package which the team had brought for this weekends Malaysian Grand Prix after his team-mate Lewis Hamilton switch back to the old one.

Hamilton took pole while the Finn was seven tenths down on his team-mate meaning he will start the race fifth. Bottas said “It’s easy to say afterwards, but if I could do the qualifying again I’d go for the other package. We need to review everything. We need to see what are the actual differences. The gap in Q3 was huge.”

“We will look into everything to fully understand what’s going on with the car because it’s so much work sometimes to get it right, and sometimes we get it working and sometimes not. I didn’t get it today.”

Red Bull

Red Bull out qualified the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, with Max Verstappen third and Daniel Ricciardo fourth. That was a good effort as I think they were helped by the fact that Vettel wasn’t in Q3, plus we have seen them perform well in the wet yesterday and they took victory last season.

After qualifying Ricciardo said he thinks that the team are able to flight for their second win of the season after he was .05 of a second slower than Verstappen. He said “Realistically, in the dry we’re not in the fight [for pole], but in the wet we’d have expected to be. To be half a second off pole, we can’t really ask for more than that.”

“Obviously half a tenth from Max, it’s never nice, it’s been half a tenth a few too many times. I think generally, we got the most out of the car today.”

Of his race chances, Ricciardo said: “I think the podium is there, up for grabs, because Vettel is down the back and Bottas hasn’t had… Well, Mercedes’ long run pace has been hard to read. In the dry, the podium is still on, but in the wet, then you’re talking more about a win”


Pierre Gasly will make his debut from fifteenth on the grid one place behind his Toro Rosso team-mate Carlos Sainz. I think that was a good effort by Gasly, as it is the closest gap we have seen all season a tenth of a second between the Toro Rosso’s.

Asked if he felt nervous on his first weekend as a Toro Rosso F1 driver, Gasly replied: “I was actually surprised when I was in the car because I didn’t feel so much the pressure. I just felt good because I was exactly where I wanted to be since I was a kid.”

“By the time I was coming out of the pitlane I was already thinking about what warm-up I had to do and making sure I would be competitive. It’s something I am pretty pleased about.” I think Red Bull will be happy with the move to replace him.


It was another disappointing qualifying for the team as they failed to get into Q3. Felipe Massa showed good pace but just missed out on a place in Q3 by .024 of a second. Since the summer break, Williams I feel have not been able to deliver the results we expect them to be able to.

Chief technical officer paddy Lowe summed up the day “We had a trouble-free session, but overall it was a bit of a disappointing result for us as I think we had the possibility of getting at least one car into Q3 today.”

“The pace certainly seemed to be there in the earlier sessions, but we didn’t quite make the same progress as other teams with each set of tyres, so ultimately just missed the cut.”


Lewis Hamilton, who starts from Pole “Feeling blessed to get 70 Poles in F1. Thank you so much to the Team for working so hard. Looking forward to the race tomorrow. Let’s go! ?”

Valtteri Bottas, who starts P5 “More Tough day in the office. Starting 5th for the race. Hopefully better tomorrow for me! #F1 #MalaysianGP #VB77 @MercedesAMGF1”

Esteban Ocon, who starts P6 “I will be starting P6 at the #malaysiangp tomorrow !!! Mega team effort by @forceindiaf1 @mercedesamg let’s push from there???? #EO31”

Stoffel Vanddorne, who starts P7 “Mega qualifying today! Starting 7th tomorrow and looking forward to race from there!???? #SV2 #MalaysianGP”

Race Preview

Well the advantage would appear that its will be a three horse race between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But I have doubts whether Kimi Raikkonen would be able to fight with Lewis Hamilton at the front of the field.

This is another chance for the Mercedes driver to extend his lead over Sebastian Vettel, who starts last. I know its not the race we want, but Hamilton has the control at the moment of the championship. However, you would expect Vettel to pick up a couple of points, that needs to be his aim, to limit the damage.



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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