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

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

  1. Asif (@) said on 24th March 2012, 9:41

    The prettiest cars on front row again!

    Lewis must have had a fair bit more in hand as most drivers were able to improve on their first Q3 run. I really hope for Lewis’ sake that he can finish ahead of his teammate as he seems to be lacking in confidence.

    Also love how close the quail times are for top 10. Nice to see Michael doing OK and giving a lesson to Nico.

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

      lacking in confidence?he didnt look like he was lacking in confidence to me.

      • Asif (@) said on 24th March 2012, 10:11

        Not from his quali performance but did you hear him in the interview? he is already hedging about pole not being an advantage and about the need to preserve his tires etc. He seems to still be reliving last week’s race and wondering if there will be a repeat. The narrative now is that Lewis has an edge in quali and that Jenson has the edge on Sundays when it matters. He desperately wants to end that narrative

        • zicasso (@zicasso) said on 24th March 2012, 10:25

          I agree. He does look nervous and his comments suggest he is not entirely confident in that position.

          • matthew said on 24th March 2012, 12:10

            no he just has learnt from last week that unless you get off to get good start pole means nothing,especially in malaysia with the long straight at the start.

  2. OOliver said on 24th March 2012, 9:44

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

    Smally typo there Keith. I suspect one of those “complete the word” writing aids.

  3. ob1 said on 24th March 2012, 9:46

    for Q2 do you mean Rosberg and several other drivers who had to back off for the yellow flags needed to run again?

    hence Rosberg being limted to one lapp in q3

  4. mixwell (@mixwell) said on 24th March 2012, 9:52

    Great lap from Ham and even more awesome by MSC. This is going to be one hell of a race, but hope to see some variation in P1/2 as well than having a McLaren lockup in every event, something which almost everyone complained about last year with the Red Bulls. not that i don’t want Button to win.
    ROS is P8 but i am pretty sure he would be P4/5 at the end of Turn 1 :D
    WEB looks strong.
    VET’s P6 lap is great too. It could play in his favor if its a dry race tomorrow.
    ALO must be disappointed with that P9 and Ferrari really need to improve that car.
    MAS needs a new team and Ferrari need a driver that’s more ‘prepared’ .
    Kimi is doing great. So is GRO.
    MAL again in the dirt. It seems Williams have a great car this season. Or atleast a better car. All they need is a driver to make use of the equipment.

    • Adam said on 24th March 2012, 9:54

      This sort of lock-out is fine – there’s nothing inevitable about it and the margins are slim.

      Last year was very different.

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 24th March 2012, 9:58

        And even if it were, if it is only for a few races and then the race is still undecided, we can live with it – it’s perhaps different if they manage this the whole season.

    • Palle (@palle) said on 24th March 2012, 10:15

      Good comment mixwell, but which team needs Massa? I think the tyre wear will be decisive for the race result, i.e. drivers like Button and Vettel will end higher, and drivers like Webber and Hamilton lower. VET might profit from starting on the hard tyres. The Mercedes drivers are likely to get in trouble because of tyrewear, so even if I hope to see Schu on the podium again its probably not going to happen this race. I’m sure Kimi and Alonso will advance. I expect both Rosberg and Grosjean to do worse than their teammates in the race. Maldonado will be interesting to follow, very aggressive young driver, I fully understand why he was pushing to the limit in Melbourne – if Williams felt the points was more important than the glory of an overtake of Alonso on the last laps, they should have asked Maldonado to save fuel.
      But if we get torrential rain, almost everything can happen.

  5. extasy said on 24th March 2012, 9:53

    I’ll like to see merc do well but pretty sure they’ll start dropping off like in Aust. Can’t really see them finishing the race higher than 7th unless the weather mixes things up.

  6. SPIDERman (@spiderman) said on 24th March 2012, 9:54

    I think the era of red bull dominance is over…and the Mercedes team will be the one to watch after the maclarens.
    red bull need to be kept away from the podiums next few races i hope it works.

  7. DT (@dt) said on 24th March 2012, 9:55

    Schumi being a good starter might trouble Button a little bit and give Hamilton a bit of a breathing space at the start. I really hope Lewis wins. He needs it badly!

  8. brum55 said on 24th March 2012, 9:55

    Can’t wait for the start, expect Schumi to jump to McLarens before conducting a Trulli train, whilst frustrating Button and Hamilton.

  9. Adam said on 24th March 2012, 9:57

    Is Pole on the inside for the first corner?

  10. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 24th March 2012, 10:13

    Wasn’t expecting another Macca 1-2 again, as a fan i’m full of delight to lock out the front row again but quite serious because the points are won on race day & i believe RB are still a force to be reckon with for certain. If Mercedes’ high tyre degradation doesn’t seem to appear tomorrow then i can see them having a strong crack of getting onto the podium with Schumi, possibly even a win.

    The biggest threat to Macca however is Vettel, starting on the slower harder compound in P5 just 4 tenths off Hamilton’s pole time, had he bolted on a set of Mediums (worth 0.5secs) then it would be arguable to say he would’ve had pole by the slight margin from Lewis but i’m pretty convinced from his lock-up at T14, Lewis had a little more in his pocket. Very interested & intrigued to see how tomorrow pans out, should be another great race.

    • Palle (@palle) said on 24th March 2012, 10:24

      Yes, I think Vettel has concluded that starting position isn’t everything, especially after he actually finished the race distance faster than BUT in Melbourne – if You deduct the time they used in pitlane, then VET was faster – but of course this was induced by the safetycar. So VET probably needs a safetycar or some other confusion again to get to the top.

    • Lemon (@lemon) said on 24th March 2012, 10:34

      Interestingly in an interview afterwards Vettel exclaimed he was more comfortable on the hards for quali….and it wasn’t a strategic decision, more so because he felt better with the hards…

  11. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 24th March 2012, 10:20

    4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.461
    5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’36.461

    Don’t think anyone noticed that, Interesting

  12. Mustalainen (@mustalainen) said on 24th March 2012, 10:46

    All six world champions in the top ten

  13. Young One said on 24th March 2012, 10:47

    The race is likely to start under a thunderstorm tomorrow, so I will be surprised if they even manage to race for 1 lap.

  14. danclapp (@danclapp) said on 24th March 2012, 11:13

    lol qually set up ha that’s hillarious tete ham always beats j.b in qually and vettel on hard tyres good luck getting off line hell be swamped by grippier tyres ham probly will pit first but vettel going longer how will that help vettel has to use that tyre later on ham will start medium then hard,hard,hard

  15. Mahir C said on 24th March 2012, 11:15

    Anybody noticed how much Verge’s car was vibrating when he flat spotted his tyres. It was as when Kimi lost his wheel in 2005 Nurgburgring.

    • Tim Katz (@timkatz) said on 24th March 2012, 11:45

      Yes,that was quite dramatic wasn’t it? The vibration was so intense that i thought for a moment he had damaged the wheel somehow – then we saw the lock up on replay.

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