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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Image ?? McLaren/Hoch Zwei

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

  1. F1fanNL (@) said on 24th March 2012, 17:31

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

    • Das_Stig (@das_stig) said on 24th March 2012, 19:20

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

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th March 2012, 22:23

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

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 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.

    • Bobdredds (@bobdredds) said on 25th March 2012, 0:36

      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.

  2. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 24th March 2012, 18:59

    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.

  3. Das_Stig (@das_stig) said on 24th March 2012, 19:17

    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.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 24th March 2012, 22:20

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

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