Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, McLaren, Sepang, 2012

McLaren lock out the front row again in Malaysia

2012 Malaysian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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

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  1. To me, it was really painful to see Massa driving today. To be honest, I think he improved somehow and closed a bit the big gap to Alonso, compared to Australia. I do not believe for a moment that a team like Ferrari would go to the trouble to develop a new chassis and rebuild the car if they believe the problem is the driver. No way. But at least to me is very clear that Massa and his car are not talking the same language. Today his car was just everywhere, almost always outside of the best line, his car is unstable at the entrance of the turn, is unstable at the exit, and lacks final speed. It’s a mess.
    It seems to me that the constant change of rules is forcing the drivers to adapt their driving styles constantly and that is leaving Massa outside the ballpark. In the beginning of the season Alonso and him where introduced to the new car, but while Alonso managed to understand its behavior, Massa simply seems unable to develop the car.
    Now, a guy who spent 10 years in Formula 1 never forgets how to drive a car. And how to drive it fast. But the car from 2012 is a very different beast, and Massa seems to me unable to understand how to deal with his Ferrari. Particularly, I believe his performance went down the tube since Pirelli brought the new tires. Others adapter better, but not him. And that will cost him his career.
    Just my last $0,02…

  2. It is an irony and little bit of a sweet revenge for Kimi I guess. Alonso moved from Renault to Ferrari to replace him ahead of the contract. Now the same Renault is a much faster and better car than Ferrari. To top it all Kimi was having a good time last 2 years enjoying rallying and the payout package for his early termination of the Ferrari contract.On the Other end Ferrari is struggling since last 3 years. I guess what goes around comes around. I somehow feel as much as McLaren is Lewis’s home, Renault is Alonso’s home.

  3. No Button hasn’t closen the gap

    Lewis made the obvious mistake that would have put him even further ahead. Also in the last two races, he hasn’t even finished his 2nd timed run, compared to Button having two go’s at his time

  4. I think Kimi has had a lucky break on the timing for his return with the banning of the DRS. All the drivers in the top teams who benefited most from it last year, seem to struggle a little bit finding the limits of their cars without it. Vettel most emphatically, but Hamilton as well looked quite a bit scruffier than normal in practice.
    In the meantime, those who didn’t quite get on with it, look like they have made a step forward, like Schumacher and Webber.

    And then there’s Kimi who never had it in the first place and, according to Lotus, from the beginning was pretty much bang on the limit of the car again and in his own words thinks the car feels pretty much the same as what he was used to. Doesn’t hurt that those limits are pretty close to the front as well.

    I wonder, and of course that is an if, if Lotus manage to keep up development this season, will Kimi be labelled a “complete racing driver” and “amazing development driver”? It certainly looks like he is able to communicate to his engineers what he needs from the car, given his comments about the changes they made to the floor and the steering rack so far and the resulting difference in confidence and speed.

    1. Ral, you wrote “with the banning of the DRS” – I think you meant the banning of the blown diffuser, as the DRS is still used this year.

      1. Doh. Yes, that is what I meant. Thank you.

  5. There is a lot of Massa bashing going on and after last week, a lot of it is justified. But after this qualifying, it seems to me to be piling on a bit. Look at the times. Massa was behind Alonso 0.165 seconds. Compare that to Rosberg who was behind Schumacher by 0.273 seconds. Button is behind Hamilton 0.149. That is really comparable in my opinion.

    Alonso has always out qualified Massa. That time difference is not that great. The reason it looks so much worse is that this year the cars are very packed in time. So it is easy to be many places down compared to your teammate.

    The real bashing should be reserved for the Ferrari team this year, in my opinion. We’ll see how it goes in the race. But right now, “Massa looking pathetic in qualifying” as I’ve seen is a bit overblown.

    1. I agree 100% with this.

      1. in the same session the difference was actually 4 tenths, you are comparing Massa’s Q2 time to Alonso’s Q3. At the same time on the same track it was still 4 tenths not 2.

  6. I hope Schumacher jumps the Macs at the start. If he doesn’t I fear this race will not be exciting at all.

    1. I think shumi and one of the mclaren’s will make contact into the first corner. Hope it doesn’t happen.

    2. @f1fannl I expect that the rain will come and make things nice and exciting, especially if/when it dries.

      1. F1fanNL (@)
        25th March 2012, 0:06

        There’s always a chance of rain but I for one hope it doesn’t come. I agree it delivers an exciting race but I don’t like lotteries.
        It’s like Canada last year. It’s totally unfair for one driver to lose a hard earned advantage due to safety cars and red flags and to see another driver run opponents of the road, get penalties and still be in the hunt for the victory because all his penalties and mishaps were just brushed off by the race stopping incidents. That’s not what racing is about in my opinion.

    3. The start will be interesting for sure, does Lewis cover off Jenson or Michael. Great to see Schumacher back on form. Hopefully we will have the clearest picture yet about where everyone stands after the race. I must say Perez is climbing higher in my estimation at a rate of knots.

  7. One thing that has disappointed me in both qualifying sessions so far this year……. Nico Rosberg. He has had a car that has nearly-pole potential at both races and in both qualifying sessions so far he has snuffed his chance to put his car into a great position. Every time he has had a good chance to be in such a position so far he has cracked under the pressure (remember the mistake coming out of the pits at Singapore a few years ago where he had potential to get into a race winning position or at least a good podium?). He needs to sort this aspect of his driving out and deliver on the potential that we all know is there.

  8. He is been disappointing. I agree with another comment above about Rosberg being the ultimate test driver. He can’t deliver under pressure, but driving around in practice sessions (remember the williams days) rosberg would extract everything the car has to offer – not more and not less.

  9. What happened with Kobayashi? Any one any idea? I know Perez usually beats him but that’s just weird.

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