Lewis Hamilton was fastest in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix and thereby took his fourth straight pole at the circuit. Kimi Raikkonen is set to start from second, narrowly beaten by 0.045s. Sebastian Vettel failed to set a timed lap due to engine problems and will start the Malaysian Grand Prix from the back of the grid - or the pitlane.
Qualifying kicked off in anger, especially in the Ferrari pit box, as the crew of Sebastian Vettel was still working hard to replace the engine that caused trouble during FP3, little more than 2 hours earlier. When Wehrlein and Ericsson were first to get to the track, Ferrari was still working hard, until 3 minutes later, both Raikkonen and Vettel were simultaneously released out on track.
Only moments after going out on track, Vettel reports "Feels like I have no turbo", ending up returning back to the pits after a single lap. None of the steering wheel switches he was asked to perform resolved the matter, after which he was destined to watch his team work on his car, and see the time go by. Vettel in the end could not set a laptime, and will have to start the race from the back of the grid.
Meanwhile, it seemed a lot like Mercedes switched up their power units to their normal levels, resulting in Hamilton going fastest immediately, ticking the Q1 checkbox as he returned to the pits. Bottas, Raikkonen and both Red Bulls were similarly certain of a making it into Q2 after only a single outing.
Along with Vettel, both Saubers and both Haas cars ended up not making it into the top 15.
Eventually, Bottas ended up fastest in Q2, ahead of Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hamilton and Ricciardo. Along with them progressed both Force Indias, Nico Hulkenberg and the two McLaren Honda drivers. Felipe Massa was narrowly out in 11th. Pierre Gasly meanwhile ended up 15th in his first ever F1 qualifying, just 0.15s down on team mate Carlos Sainz.
Q3 saw no real surprises either, even though Hamilton eventually ending up on pole may be considered a surprise indeed after Mercedes' performance thus far this weekend. As the Briton failed to improve on his second run, all eyes were on Raikkonen, but he stranded at 0.045s from pole position, likely due to a minor mistake in the final corner where he locked up the inside front tyre and missed the apex of the 180° turn.
Red Bull are set to start from the second row, ahead of Bottas and Ocon. Stoffel Vandoorne meanwhile ended up 7th fastest, beating Alonso outright by 0.15s, which ended up being the difference between 7th and 10th on the grid.
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:31.605||1:30.977||1:30.076||18|
|3||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:31.920||1:30.931||1:30.541||12|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:32.416||1:31.061||1:30.595||16|
|5||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG||1:32.254||1:30.803||1:30.758||17|
|6||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:32.527||1:31.651||1:31.478||17|
|7||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||1:32.838||1:31.848||1:31.582||18|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:32.768||1:31.484||1:31.658||18|
|10||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:33.049||1:32.010||1:31.704||17|
|11||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:32.267||1:32.034||-||12|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:33.000||1:32.307||-||14|
|14||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:32.650||1:32.402||-||14|
|15||10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:32.547||1:32.558||-||14|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:33.308||-||-||8|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:33.434||-||-||6|
|18||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber Ferrari||1:33.483||-||-||9|
|19||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:33.970||-||-||9|