McLaren lock out the front row again in Malaysia

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Sepang, 2012Lewis Hamilton put a McLaren on pole position for the first time at the Sepang International Circuit.

Team mate Jenson Button made it a McLaren one-two after relegating Michael Schumacher to third place with his final run.


Mercedes were quickest in the first part of qualifying until a group of drivers had to make second runs in a bid to ensure they reached Q2.

These included Mark Webber, who briefly fell as low as 17th before setting the fastest time of the session with a late run on the hard tyres.

Felipe Massa also had a scare: he was 18th after the first runs, 1.1 seconds slower than his team mate and facing the threat of elimination.

Both Ferrari drivers returned to the track for a second run on the softer medium tyres and Massa posted a big enough improvement to ensure his progression to Q2.

He made it at the expensive of Jean-Eric Vergne, who locked up his tyres at the start of his final lap and failed to make the cut.

Unlike last week, all the drivers were within the 107% time. Narain Karthikeyan was inside the target by three-tenths of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.077
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’39.306
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’39.567
21 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’40.903
22 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’41.250
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’42.914
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’43.655


Pastor Maldonado understeered off at turn 11 on his first effort which caused problems both for him and the cars immediately behind.

Hamilton was one of the first drivers on the scene and was anxious to ensure he wouldn’t get a penalty for going past the trouble spot too quickly. “I didn’t see any yellow flags,” he told his team. “We saw there was no time to react whatsoever,” they responded.

Maldonado and several other drivers who had to back off for the yellow flags needed to run again.

Massa’s last run temporarily got him into the top ten at the expense of his team mate. But Alonso’s final run and improvements from other drivers knocked Massa out of qualifying.

The Mercedes drivers left it until the dying moments of the session to secure their places in Q3, but did so comfortably. Raikkonen ended the session quickest.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’37.589
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’37.731
13 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’37.841
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’37.877
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’37.883
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’37.890
17 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.069


Raikkonen was first to set a lap in Q1 but he took too much kerb at turn seven and was a tenth off his best lap from Q2.

He was beaten by both the McLarens – first Button, then Hamilton, who went quickest with a 1’36.219 despite locking his front-left tyre at the final corner.

The Mercedes drivers limited themselves to a single run. Rosberg had a slightly scruffy lap and took fourth, while Schumacher claimed second, just under two-tenths slower than Hamilton.

As was the case in Melbourne, Hamilton’s first effort proved quick enough for pole position. Button posted an improvement on his second lap which got him ahead of Schumacher – but not Hamilton.

Webber and Raikkonen set times that were identical to one-thousandths of a second – Webber claiming the place ahead as he set the time first. Raikkonen’s grid penalty means he will start the race tenth.

Vettel gambled on the hard compound for his second run and produced a quicker time, meaning he will start the race on the more durable tyres.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’36.219
2 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’36.368
3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’36.391
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.461
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’36.461
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’36.634
7 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’36.658
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’36.664
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’37.566
10 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’37.698

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

Browse all 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

Image ?é?® McLaren/Hoch Zwei

Advert | Go Ad-free

213 comments on McLaren lock out the front row again in Malaysia

1 2 3 4
  1. Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th March 2012, 9:19

    Everybody did well except Massa and Senna. I wish Ferrari would be more competitive than today as they were in Australasia. Still it’s hard to imagine Alonso finish ahead of Kimi. Mercedes’ race pace is the key of the game. They weren’t good in Oz.

    • bananarama (@bananarama) said on 24th March 2012, 9:33

      Just to bring this to a broader audience :-P

      Wasn’t the verdict that Schumacher amd Raikkonen were too old, kind of useless and should give younger more talented drivers a chance?! Maybe I’m just a bit too happy for their good performances but still..

      And Massa seemed improved, but looking at him driving the car is painful, it just never clings on to the line the driver wants to go.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th March 2012, 9:40

        Wasn’t the verdict that Schumacher amd Raikkonen were too old, kind of useless and should give younger more talented drivers a chance?

        Says who?

        I’ve heard that argument applied to Jarno Trulli, but not those two.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 24th March 2012, 9:45

          OH, it’s out there, even Webber gets it.

          • DMC (@dmc) said on 24th March 2012, 17:10

            Its been on this site too, plenty of “schumacher is just too slow to compete with this generation of drivers” etc etc.

        • Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th March 2012, 9:48

          I don’t think there’re people think Kimi is old but surely Schumacher have had some doubt.

        • bananarama (@bananarama) said on 24th March 2012, 9:52

          Just a few hours ago I had to read from people that Grosjean will definitely be ahead of Raikkonen all season amd that he is so incompetent he damaged his gearbox. And Schumacher has been written out of F1 ever since Rosberg outqualified him in the first year. Also I remember in testing and free practice in Melbourne many people were sure they gave him an empty car just to boost his confidence.
          Afterall, this was only the second qualifying but I’m very content about how it went.

        • I know you read the comments Keith, surely you’ve seen it.

        • rankx (@rankx22) said on 24th March 2012, 11:12

          come on, keith, don’t be shy. we know YOU didn’t it, but the newspapers were full of it. kind of childish to deny that.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th March 2012, 11:21

            @rankx22 I’m not denying anything, I’m saying I don’t know what’s being referred to here.

            Seeing that one person thinks it’s in response to comments that have been made on the site, and you think it’s in response to what’s been written in newspapers, I think that’s pretty justified!

          • Mike (@mike) said on 24th March 2012, 13:30

            Yeah I’ma have to side against you Keith, X driver is too old and should move over to give new guys ago comes up a lot in many places. -.-

        • Sandhurst5 (@sandhurst5) said on 24th March 2012, 12:32

          Where have you been man!!?? Even Eddie Jordan on the BBC broadcast was talking about it being Schumacher’s last year (2011) if he doesn’t improve his performances and that Paul Di Resta should replace him at Mercedes this year in 2012.

      • suka (@suka) said on 24th March 2012, 13:52

        Who cares, people say what they think at the moment and we can’t blame them for it. Nevertheless, I am sure that even those who misjudged those drivers, are happy they’re proven wrong at the moment because we get the best mix-up ever.

    • matt90 said on 24th March 2012, 10:10

      Admittedly I was half asleep, but looking at the times I don’t see how either driver was particularly bad. Unless he had a problem, then Kobayashi was actually one of the weakest compared to his team-mate.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 24th March 2012, 13:59

      Rosberg was a massive dissapointment. It’s two weekends in a row that he fails to match his team mate because of an error in the crucial last lap.

      He’s either cracking under pressure or he’s not as comfortable in the car as the times suggest.

      • babis1980 said on 24th March 2012, 17:33

        IMO the reason is his poor physical condition. Don’t get me wrong, he is a great athlete but not as good in comparison with the others drivers. I can’t stand seeing him sweating like a poor pinky piggy inside his helmet. !!!! :) He is so cute….. “Please…. Mr. Martin Brundle bring me a bottle of icy cold water and spill it all over my helmet !!!”

        • Mike (@mike) said on 25th March 2012, 0:19


          Why can’t it be mandatory to sign in to post?

          The car, or regs, obviously don’t suit Rosberg as well as they did, either that or Schumacher has finally got on top of his game, or probably a mix of both. Same as Webber being back on Vettel’s level.

          • babis1980 (@babis1980) said on 25th March 2012, 8:13

            I am a signed user ….. Mike….. Right! Are you?

            I am referring to the incident from FP1 where Brundle “took” advantage of his position and put his mic …. Mike …. in the nose to Pic. Did my piggy comment offended you…..?
            I am sorry about that….

            How can Rosberg driving style make him had that huge lock up in his final qualy lap? That was the reason he is not in 3rd or 4th possition for the race.

            Webber has not up his game this year (at least until now). In Australia was 4th and Vettel 2nd. This time around Vettel has a different strategy with the hard tyres…. Did you watched Qualy yesterday? Or is it that you are not registered…… this is a joke…..

      • Jean said on 26th March 2012, 10:46

        I think it’s a case of Rosberg not being quite as comfortable in this year’s Merc. compared to Schumacher , and also that Schumacher is now , after two full seasons , more used to driving style of todays’ cars. That said , I would not write off Rosberg just yet , and think even more will come out of Schumacher very soon. If Merc can get their tyre problems under control , they could well be the team challenging McLaren (who look to be the best so far) this year.

    • babis1980 said on 24th March 2012, 17:47

      One of the keys for the bad qualy from ferrari is the engines IMO. Fernado and Felipe recorded very low high speed (300 and 303 Kph respectively). Same goes to Sauber as well. Only Toro Rosso creates low drag with 313 and 310 kph for their drivers…..

      Another thing is that Sauber and Ferrari were the only one who couldn’t better their time in Q3. Is like the can’t do anything with their fuel…… I can’t understand what it us going on but I think they are still missing much with their ICU programming and fuel maps….. all the others use 3 (which might be illegal) or 4 cylinders, blowing fire when they brake and other things….. that Scuderia Ferrari is doing?

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 24th March 2012, 18:42

        I don’t think Ferrari engine is the problem. As far as I’ve seen for last 2 years, top speed means almost nothing but it’s easy to overtake in straight. I think they might opted for the race…

      • Mike (@mike) said on 25th March 2012, 3:12

        The exhaust regs have been tightened considerably since last year, teams can no longer have off throttle exhaust due to the mandatory limitations caused by the standardized ECU amongst other changes, If the cars were creating off throttle exhaust, then you would hear it in the gravel sounding noise they were creating through the corners last year.

        If Ferrari had a disadvantage due to power, Ferrari would be complaining very loudly about it. Really, the low Ferrari top speed will be due to them running a high drag producing aerodynamic package.

  2. latina (@latina) said on 24th March 2012, 9:19

    Go Ham!!!

    • juan fanger (@juan-fanger) said on 24th March 2012, 9:33

      Not going to go too well with a flat-spotted front left :(

      • angelkouva said on 24th March 2012, 9:39

        He is on a brand new set of tyres as the flat spotted left front was on his first timed lap.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th March 2012, 9:42

          Drivers in Q3 start the race on the tyres they set their fastest lap on. Hamilton set his fastest lap on those tyres, so if they are damaged he will have to live with it.

          And I can’t pass up the opportunity to add: it’s a stupid rule.

        • Tete said on 24th March 2012, 9:59

          No. Don’t write lies. The tires he had when he did his fastest lap was the set of tires in which he had a huge flat spot. Look at the slow motion replay. That tire is almost square and he will have to start the race with that tire.

          • Adam said on 24th March 2012, 10:03

            Unless it is bad enough they can pretend it is unsafe, like Mercedes did last week.

          • angelkouva said on 24th March 2012, 10:03

            i don’t disagree with you.But I say that he was on a new set of tyres in his last lap (which he didn’t complete).What’s the gain for Ham not to complete that lap(besides the in lap)?I would like a comment,an idea if someone knows

          • Adam said on 24th March 2012, 10:07

            He was just saving a lap on tyres he will use later in the race – thats pretty obvious.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th March 2012, 10:20

            Don’t write lies.

            A bit over the top – they might just have misunderstood the rules.

          • lee1 said on 24th March 2012, 18:21

            they are allowed to rebalance the tyres before the race.

      • Asif (@f1asif) said on 24th March 2012, 9:55

        he had a bit of a lock up and they were saying it cost him some time. Does a lock up automatically mean a flat spot? I always thought it was relative…..

        • Tete said on 24th March 2012, 10:02

          No. Go watch the slow motion replay and see that the tire is in really bad condition. Also it will. Otbe allowed to be change ’cause it is hampton who damaged with his style.

          • Asif (@f1asif) said on 24th March 2012, 10:05

            just wondering if it’s that bad, why he wouldn’t have tried to improve on his Q3 time using a different set? maybe they are not as worried about it.

        • Paul Ogbeiwi (@pauldstar) said on 24th March 2012, 10:10

          the race is probably gonna be wet tomorrow anyway. if not hamiltons flat spot would only be a problem at the start of the race. i’m sure he can handle that. either way, the race is looking good for lewis tomorrow.

          • Estesark (@estesark) said on 24th March 2012, 11:00

            I don’t think it’s too bad. If it rains before the start, he’ll be on a different set of tyres. If it rains just after the start, he won’t have to do too long on the flat-spotted set. If there’s no rain, the team can try to argue that it’s dangerous, but even if they fail in that, they can still re-balance the tyre, and in any case, it will be the set of tyres that Hamilton spends the least time on tomorrow.

            He should be more worried about Button overtaking him at the first corner again, if you ask me!

        • DMC (@dmc) said on 24th March 2012, 17:18

          It depends on how long the wheel is stationary or not rotating, as its literally scraping flat against the tarmac. A brief lock up is usually ok.

  3. Did Fernando run on hard tyres? Had he really a KERS problem?

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th March 2012, 9:25

    Schumacher hit 312kph in the speed trap – 2kph faster than anyone else. Will have a closer look at all the data in the pre-race analysis later…

    • Adam said on 24th March 2012, 9:41

      Schumacher & Vettel seemed to be the only drivers who recorded their top speed in Q3. No idea what the top speeds were for everyone else in that session as opposed to Q2 – the pure difference ignoring that was negligible for most cars, with the exception being the steam powered Red Bulls spluttering in 12kph behind.

  5. Harvs (@harvs) said on 24th March 2012, 9:26

    Impressive lap by Vettel, wondering what the advantage would be thought, reminds me of the 2010 Canadian GP when both Red Bulls qualified primes but the strategy didn’t work with the high degradation that we saw in that race, start and opening laps will be crucial for him considering he will have less grip that everyone around him.

  6. angelkouva said on 24th March 2012, 9:27

    interesting and promising strategy from Vettel’s team, but an early gap from the Macs and a rain before the first pit stop will ruin his plans.

  7. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 24th March 2012, 9:29

    The fact that there’s only 0.445s difference between the top 8 drivers from the top 4 cars – Mclaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, and Lotus – Truly shows how competive this season is.

  8. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th March 2012, 9:30

    I’m really disappointed – I set qualifying up to tape, and it didn’t work!

  9. Christopher (@twiinzspeed) said on 24th March 2012, 9:32

    I am totally syked to see Schumi back in the top 3. I hope he gets a god start tomorrow and that his race pace is better, The Merc seems fast over a single lap but it is not overly kind to its tires. Best of luck to the old guy on Sunday. It would be awesome to see him on the podium again. I hope al the naysayers are fixing their crow sandwiches for breakfast. :)

  10. spacák (@spacak) said on 24th March 2012, 9:33

    WEB and MSC have slower starts, I’m afraid VET wil be 3rd after turn 2.

  11. SPIDERman (@spiderman) said on 24th March 2012, 9:34

    Hamilton must work on his start and set up his clutch not to spin like last time in Melbourne.i hope Kimi gets into top three podiums as well.
    but i think maclaren will again mess up Hamilton’s race by using poor race tactics.
    there is a high chance vettel will crush out.

    • Asif (@f1asif) said on 24th March 2012, 9:49

      People really have to say McLaren messes up hamilton’s race. Jenson chose a better front wing setting last week and also did a better job switching on his tires as Lewis himself admitted.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 24th March 2012, 13:44

      but i think maclaren will again mess up Hamilton’s race by using poor race tactics.

      First, it’s Mclaren.

      Second, Explain to me how they messed up Hamilton’s stratagy?

      If you are refering to the safety car coming out just after Hamilton, then explain how they could have known this before it had happened.

      If the safety car didn’t come out, pitting Hamilton right behind Button would have given Hamilton the early stop, and thus presumably kept him comfortably ahead of Vettel after the stops.

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 24th March 2012, 17:20

        “and thus presumably kept him comfortably ahead of Vettel after the stops.”

        I don’t know if that would have been the case. Vettel was within 1 second of Hamilton when Hamilton pitted. In the first sector alone (no SC yet, no yellow flags slowing down Button and Hamilton down) Vettel ran away from Button with 1.5 seconds. Hamilton didn’t really close in much on Button so I believe Vettel could have jumped Hamilton regardless of the SC situation. The Red Bull team did have a bit of a scrappy pitstop though (5.2 seconds if I recall correctly) so that could have saved Hamilton. But who knows, maybe that pitstop was a result of some SC tension.
        Anyway, I think it would have been really close.

  12. Ras said on 24th March 2012, 9:36

    MSC has slow starts? He was on the best starters last year.

  13. pankit2000 (@pankit2000) said on 24th March 2012, 9:37

    did the mercs run only a single flying lap ?
    if so its truly impressive …
    The race pace is still in doubt but its good to see them progress after 2 years of waiting.
    Go Michael …
    Its a shame that kimi’s got that penalty. The guy is amazing, after 2 years , he;s not no speed and is mixing it up with everyone up in the front.

    An Vettel – Always the man , lets hope he puts on a good show tomorrow n able to make up places like last time.

    • pankit2000 (@pankit2000) said on 24th March 2012, 9:38

      Its a shame that kimi’s got that penalty. The guy is amazing, after 2 years , he;s lost not no speed and is mixing it up with everyone up in the front.

      • Estesark (@estesark) said on 24th March 2012, 11:03

        I just get the feeling that Kimi’s bad luck (Australia: change of steering column, eliminated in Q1; Malaysia: change of gearbox, five place grid penalty) will coincide with the part of the year when Lotus have the best chance of fighting at the front. As I understand it they have a relatively simple car which is easy to understand and drive, which is why they are going well at this early part of the year. Later on this year they could fall behind a little as they don’t have the development capacities of the bigger teams.

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 24th March 2012, 11:05

      Don’t forget Kovalainens effort: only 0.3 seconds off Vergne.
      Great showing by the Caterhams there

    • bearforce1 (@bearforce1) said on 24th March 2012, 11:40

      Kimmi skill retention is unreal. He really just switched it back on and is as though he had no break away from driving F1.

  14. Ras said on 24th March 2012, 9:38

    I don’t think Mercedes’ race pace will be as good as qualy again. Their tricky f-duct, drs activated mechanism gives them an advantage in qualy because they can use it anywhere, anytime. In the race they can’t.

  15. zicasso (@zicasso) said on 24th March 2012, 9:41

    Now it makes sense… something out Vettel vs Webber last year I could not grasp. Why the gap was so massive? And here we are. If they have a similar setting in the car Vettel cannot be the mighty driver we saw last year. I don’t dislike the guy but is he that good against Webber? Now, lets just hope LH does not have problems in the first lap and with Schumi (who normally gets a good start) so close, who knows. I still thing it will be LH, MS, JB, SB and FA…

    • Tete said on 24th March 2012, 10:08

      Let’s hope?you hope. There are people who want other drivers to win.

    • Puffy (@puffy) said on 24th March 2012, 10:35

      If they have a similar setting in the car Vettel cannot be the mighty driver we saw last year.

      Are you saying they weren’t given the same car last season?

      Also I’d like to point out that Vettel set his qualifying lap on the harder compound tyre and was only 2 tenths off Webber’s pace.

      • David said on 24th March 2012, 10:59

        And the BBC said there was about 2 tenths in the two compounds, so there you go.

        But I think the tyre compound changes this year have benefited Webber, which I think he would back. Outqualifying Vettel 2-from-2 regardless of technical differences.

        • Aussie Fan said on 24th March 2012, 11:50

          I’d say the reduction of EEBD was of greater benefit, remember back 2 years ago with no EBD & it was MUCH closer between Vettel & Webber than all of last year, save Silverstone where the exhaust blowing was banned for the one race & surprise surprise Webber out qualified Vettel there….

          • Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 24th March 2012, 12:55

            I agree, the change in the exhaust blown diffuser rules has brought them closer together. Side by side comparisons last year showed the major difference was through the corners where this had the largest effect, and it seemed that Vettel was much better than Webber at exploiting it.

            The differences in qualifying times and race pace in Melbourne this year is very similar to 2010, where the exhaust effects were not as large. And in the only race last year where they were banned (Britain), Webber qualified faster than Vettel and while in typical Webber fashion was beaten off the line, he matched Vettel’s race pace unlike most of the 2011 season.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 24th March 2012, 13:50

            I think you guys are on to something. But it’s like I’ve always said, different cars will suit different drivers. It’s seems that this years regs aren’t on Vettel’s side.

          • F1fanNL (@) said on 24th March 2012, 17:28

            it’s only been 1 race and 2 qualifying sessions so I don’t understand why conclusions are already being drawn.

            Let’s not forget, Vettel wasn’t happy with the car in Melbourne either and he himself said there’s not much they changed in between the two GP’s. Last year Webber beat Vettel at the Nurburgring too. Why? Because Vettel wasn’t happy with the car.

            Now, the car is more to Webber’s liking than it is to Vettel’s and the result is they both show the same pace. That says enough doesn’t it. Once Vettel get’s comfortable Webber will be looking as grumpy and confused as Vettel is now.

          • Aussie Fan said on 25th March 2012, 0:06

            @f1fanNl I’m not drawing conclusions on ONLY 2 races, read the post I’m talking about an average over 2 entire seasons + these 2 races. I’d think averaging out performances over nearly 40 grands prix is a bit more accurate than “getting ahead of ourselves”

      • zicasso (@zicasso) said on 24th March 2012, 20:50

        What I find strange is the fact that in 2009/2010 season they were fighting and it was great to see and last year the way Vettel managed to destroy Webber got a bit weird to me. OK, it makes sense when people say Vettel enjoyed the “technology help” clearly better. Great times for Vettel but not great skills then. Is it fair to say Webber has better raw skills? Well, it’s only been 1 race and 2 qualifying sessions but I am curious to see how this will unfold.

        • freakishlyfast (@freakishlyfast) said on 25th March 2012, 8:02

          Guys, I wish you would get your facts straight before commenting.. just went through qualis of last 3 years. Vettel has outqualified Webber 15-2,12-7 and 16-3 in 2009,2010 and 2011 respectively. Doesn’t look close to me…

1 2 3 4

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.