Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Sepang International Circuit, 2016

Hamilton storms to Sepang pole position

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton took an emphatic pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix despite abandoning his final effort.

Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid as Nico Rosberg improved on his final run to beat the Red Bull drivers.


The Mercedes drivers easily secured their places in Q2 and didn’t even trouble themselves with trying to save a set of soft tyres.

The Red Bull pair secured their places in the second round using the medium tyres, though Max Verstappen rejoined the track on softs in the dying minutes as a precaution. Ferrari also hedged their bets, sending their drivers out on mediums at first but resorting to a final run on softs to ensure they weren’t left behind.

With Fernando Alonso only doing a perfunctory run on medium tyres due to his impending grid penalty, that presented an opportunity for a slower driver to grab a place in Q2.

Kevin Magnussen was the one who took advantage while Jolyon Palmer visibly struggled in the other Renault on the way to 19th.

A late improvement by Esteban Gutierrez ensured both Sauber drivers progressed no further than the first round.

The Manor pair dropped out too, and while Esteban Ocon put one over his team mate he also earned the wrath of Jenson Button, who demanded the Manor driver recieve a penalty for holding him up. Button had already spun at turn 14 after catching Magnussen on a flying lap.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

17. Marcus Ericsson 1’35.816
18. Felipe Nasr 1’35.949
19. Jolyon Palmer 1’35.999
20. Esteban Ocon 1’36.451
21. Pascal Wehrlein 1’36.587
22. Fernando Alonso 1’37.155


It was soft tyres all around for the second phase of qualifying and Hamilton asserted himself with a lap almost half a second quicker than his team mate could manage. The Red Bull pair lined up behind them, followed by the Ferraris.

Felipe Massa’s effort was complimented by his Williams team as he secured a place in the final ten. But a mistake by his team mate at the final corner cost him dearly.

A fine effort by Jenson Button took full advantage of that mistake and ensured him a top ten starting position for his 300th race.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Valtteri Bottas 1’34.577
12. Romain Grosjean 1’35.001
13. Esteban Gutierrez 1’35.097
14. Kevin Magnussen 1’35.277
15. Daniil Kvyat 1’35.369
16. Carlos Sainz Jnr 1’35.374


The gap between the Mercedes drivers swelled at the beginning of Q3 as Rosberg ran wide in turn six. Hamilton delivered another clean lap and dipped below the 1’33 mark, leaving Rosberg not far off a second behind.

The gap was filled by three cars: the two Red Bulls – Verstappen ahead of Ricciardo again – and Raikkonen’s Ferrari, Vettel only able to manage sixth with his first effort.

The final laps began with the threat of rain hanging over the track but the final minutes played out on a dry circuit. It was a relief for Rosberg, who this time managed an error-free run – until he reached the tricky, reconfigured final corner.

The final margin of four-tenths of a second indicates he didn’t lose it all with his moment of oversteer, but that will come as no consolation. Hamilton was unable to improve his time after running wide at the first corner, but he nonetheless claimed a crucial pole position.

Verstappen hung on to third place despite Ricciardo improving his time while running on used tyres. Vettel improved with his final run to take fifth place off his team mate.

Button added a second Williams scalp by beating Massa to ninth behind the Force Indias.

Top ten in Q3

1. Lewis Hamilton 1’32.850
2. Nico Rosberg 1’33.264
3. Max Verstappen 1’33.420
4. Daniel Ricciardo 1’33.467
5. Sebastian Vettel 1’33.584
6. Kimi Raikkonen 1’33.632
7. Sergio Perez 1’34.319
8. Nico Hulkenberg 1’34.489
9. Jenson Button 1’34.518
10. Felipe Massa 1’34.671

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “Hamilton storms to Sepang pole position”

  1. All looks very much like Monza, I hope it doesn’t finish the same too.

    1. All looks very much like most races in the last year or so, if we’re honest.

  2. Heck of a lap from Hamilton. On a different note, if anyone saw the after qualifying interviews on NBCSN. What a stupid question the interviewer asked Rosberg. Rosberg was basically asked, paraphrasing a ton here, knowing Hamiltons lap was so quick, Were you just trying to keep your qualy attempts mistake free? The interveiwer was suggesting Rosberg wouldn’t and couldn’t grab pole and that Nico was actually thinking this while doing his second qualy lap and limiting the damage from Ferrari/Redbull.

    Rosberg kinda smiled/laughed unbelievabley at the insinuation and said, Of course I was going for pole…..etc…etc.

    I don’t know if that was actually NBCSN’s journalist but dang, what a stupid way to ask the question in that way. Anyone else see this?

    1. I saw this on SKY F1 aswell.. Felt like such a loaded question.

      I am fairly certain he went to get pole. He was almost as fast as Hamilton up to the last corner, there his car always went in to Oversteer mode… You cannot match Hamilton for most of the lap by driving it overly safe..

      Also Ferrari/RedBull were close, he could not take any chance, going “slower” than maximum.

      1. Rosberg was 2 tenths down by the time he had got to the final corner.

      2. Hey now, journo’s are álways only presenting the facts as they are. Shaping narratives is not something they ever endulge in. Ever.

    2. To be very honest, being a Rosberg fan, when I saw him P5 in the timings my immediate thoughts were about securing that second spot at least. Knowing of course that Hamilton has had the edge in practice. I thought starting P5 would cause a hell of a lot more damage to his championship than starting P2, given the race pace of the Red Bulls & Ferraris.

    3. It was in the TV unilaterals, so yes, I saw it. Stupid question, but frankly, these post-quali interviews rarely offer anything of interest.

      1. very sensible question and rosberg lied in this answer ; although hamiltons lap was good it wasn’t perfect but , as roberg said afterwards ,even if he hadn’t made the last corner error it wouldn’t have been good enough
        after his first lap rosberg knew that it would have to be balls out to get pole , far more important to ensure an easy front row start and rosberg isn’t dumb

        1. … He lied?

          You realize the qoute you gave doesn’t support you, right? He’s saying mistake or not he wasn’t quick enough. Not that he wasn’t trying.

      2. I agree KaIIe. Which is why this kind of stood out for me.

    4. Don’t forget NBCSN has a rookie substitute pit lane reporter this week– Townsend Bell knows which part of an IndyCar is which, and he’s a good commentator, but he’s got very little experience as a pit lane journalist.

      It’s probable that he choked harder during the interview than Rosberg did during his lap. ;)

  3. There we go, Hamilton does it again, flawless. There maybe was more laptime in that lap according to him, but for sure it was flawless.

    Rosberg had less pace in hand and always had a moment in final corner.

    Hamilton had me worried he was off form for a while now, but well this shuts me up pretty good.

    Tomorrow hopefully it wont be all about the start, this track should provide some overtaking, IF the second car is faster than first car… If anything then overtaking should be possible here.

    1. he hasnt really been off spa he started from the back of the grid,so that race doesnt count.
      but out of the last 3 quali’s he is 2-1 up.
      had a terrible weekend 2 weeks ago,but thats about it.

      1. Oh no– Any race Hamilton loses, he loses because he’s off form, because Rosberg’s got into his head, or because of his egregious lifestyle.

        No one remembers hardware failures, the team arbitrarily switching him to the other side of the garage, clutch problems, or anything like that– because that’s not “a story”.

    2. Wasn’t exactly flawless. Messed up a little going into the penultimate corner and had to correct himself. which is why he said there was more laptime in it, maybe a tenth or two.

      1. Di Resta showed on the sky-pad that the little correction for oversteer snapped his car on a perfectly straight trajectory on the corner exit, allowing HAM to get on the power much harder more quickly

        1. It would’ve still been faster if he hadn’t had to correct himself, it would’ve just still been slower if he didn’t correct it in the way that he did.

    3. You do know Jureo that the guy currently in second place has never overtaken his team mate in a race and actually never overtaken anyone for any of his 23 wins? I do not count the FIA lottery starts as overtakes and I really do not think anyone with a few years of racing under their belts does either.

      It is ridiculous to suggest a FIA and Mercedes designed clutch lottery should be deciding a race let alone a championship but let’s go with it as we have little choice.

      I hope for a great race but the Rosberg hype is really irritating at the moment. Is it so easy to forget that there have been some truly appalling racing behaviour from him this year? Hilarious frankly, as he keeps for example, a Hungary pole yet his actions are now decided illegal. Just like his behaviour in the past by using the whole circuit and then some to drive people off the track. To the extent the regulations are once again changed. He is brilliant. Just not sure at what?

      Frankly his single minded ability to have regulations developed to curb his appalling racing behaviour is far more impressive than his racing record which of course includes three gifts and at least six others where his only other competitor was not even able to give him a run.

      A fine racer. With the kind of luck that just makes you wonder.

      1. Rosberg has never overtaken Hamilton? Get your facts right. And obviously you would find the Rosberg hype irritating. Just like you would absolutely love the Hamilton one.

      2. geoffgroom44 (@)
        1st October 2016, 18:13

        I did not know the facts you state in your first sentence. That’s very interesting. I was aware of some of the other issues to which you refer. I love that phrase ‘..actually never overtaken anyone for any of his 23 wins.” Fascinating.

        1. Rosberg’s wins: 22 not 23. Starts do not count as overtakes.
          1. 2012 China- Pole, no problems, easy win, but Mclaren probably screwed up Button in that race by his slow stop.
          2. 2013 Monaco- Well… monaco is monaco from pole. Unsurprisingly.
          3. 2013 Silverstone- Thanks to Hamilton and Vettel’s problems..
          4. 2014 Australia- Off the start but Hamilton’s cylinder was already in trouble…
          5. 2014 Monaco GP- Pole win from pole. Though we all remembered that one.
          6. 2014 Austrian GP- Overtake done through Mercedes’ policy on strategy calls. (Undercut)
          7. 2014 German GP- No problems for him starting from pole with Lewis at the back…
          8. 2014 Brazilian GP- Fair race win from Pole
          9. 2015 Spanish GP- Pole and controlled from the front.
          10. 2015 Monaco GP- We all remember this don’t we?
          11. 2015 Austrian GP- Pole and win without any overtakes.
          12. 2015 Mexican GP- Same as above.
          13. 2015 Brazilian GP- Same as above.
          14. 2015 Abu Dhabi GP- Same as above. (Lewis’ bad strategy call is worth pointing out)
          15. 2016 Australian GP- Lost the start and won because of Ferrari’s bad call. (No overtakes done)
          16. 2016 Bahrain GP- No overtakes done.
          17. 2016 Chinese GP- Ricciardo’s tyre exploded. (Not counted)
          18. 2016 Russian GP- Pole and win from front.
          19. 2016 European GP- We remember this race? (No overtakes by him)
          20. 2016 Belgian GP- No problems from pole again..
          21. 2016 Italian GP- Start only but not counted.
          22. 2016 Singapore GP- No problems from pole.

          So far, I have been following them since 2013 and I have not seen or remember any of these races wherein Nico had to overtake another driver (for position), backmarkers as well.

          1. Wow I have no words, @keithcollantine did you know of this?

    4. Everything was going well for Lewis until Sunday morning in Monza as well…

  4. Hopefully all the cement dust doesn’t ruin the start tomorrow. Hamilton got a lot of wheelspin from his practice start in the pitlane where there was quite a bit of it

  5. Race tomorrow looks set to be a good one. Red Bull (especially Verstappen) race pace, dodgy starts, Ferrari there as well. Hope Verstappen or Ricciardo can put the cat amongst the pigeons.

  6. Impressive lap from Button, and if the engine improvement is real, McLaren could be truly the 4th fastest car at the end of the year.

    1. Ye i would agree with this. They are still technically developing this car more than everyone else (engine). A lot of resources for teams are on 2017 and gaining an aero advantage. Mclaren are doing that aswell as trying to make big gains on the engine.

      1. McLaren/Honda will be a threat next year if to Ferrari/Redbull if McLaren builds a pretty good chassis in 2017. Yusuke Hasegawa has said Honda has two teams working on F1 engine program. This year and a separate team for 2017 engine. I think this will allow Honda to catch up to the others.

    2. It’s very promising. Alonso being back at the sharp end would be amazing.

  7. I feel as Hamilton has grown in age and as a driver, his strengths have changed too. He used to be mega at street and twisty circuits like Singapore, Monaco, twisty bits of Abu Dhabi…etc but now his strengths are flowing and fast circuits like Spa, Monza, Sepang..etc. Also this season his confidence took a hit by the consistent poor starting system of the Mercedes W07. He also said that this year’s title could be decided by who gets the better starts between him and his team mate. So Start system of his Mercedes is definitely playing on his mind.
    I just hope all the preparation of the weekend isn’t decided by who gets the better start. Start has now become such a huge and deciding factor (it should be a factor but not the deciding factor) for the race and i just hope it doesn’t decide the outcome of the races and driver’s championship.

    1. The ability for a driver to get fast off the line used to be a very important factor in ‘the old days’ in F1 and then came the boring years where computer control and automation came in and the driver became irrelevant. In the end it was even the engineers sitting back in the home base who made all calculations based on in-car metrics measured on the warm-up installation lap and then forwarded back to the car on the grid. I welcome that we now see that drivers have to master this on their own! I want to see that its the drivers making the difference in the racing, not how well the robots have been programmed by remote control. Granted, the drivers need to rely on the mechanical package the engineers/team put at their disposal, but its the same challenge for all the drivers on the grid.

      1. But it’s not down to the driver right now. The setting for the clutch is decided by an engineer before the car leave the garage on sunday and cannot be changed once the car has hit the track.
        Currently it’s a lottery wheter or not each team correctly guessed the conditions for the clutch.

        1. Basically agree with this. Unless they switch to a true classic clutch (with the foot) it’s too much lottery, not enough driver skill.

          From a spectacle point of view, current random starts are better, from a purity point of view, you were better with the computer starts. Bad starts were rarer and the racing decided the outcome.

    2. Monaco has never been a good circuit for Hamilton. Neither has Austria or Brazil, even though he won Austria this year.

      Hamilton excels at the “Tilke” style tracks that reward the demon braking Hamilton can get away with. Short twisty flowing tracks have never been his strong point.

  8. Magnussen showing again that he should keep his spot for next season with Renault. I reckon they should get Sainz in, who realistically, with Ricciardo and Verstappen, doesn’t have much of a shot at Red Bull, but is still a fantastic driver, and has been sort of a team leader at Toro Rosso for 2 years now. Ocon isn’t good enough yet, and Sainz and Magnussen are both young drivers, who will be in a project back to the top at Renault.
    Button showed his quality again, getting the car into the top 10 in his 300th GP, one of the most talented drivers on the track for sure, shame he only had the best car in the field for half a season, although he still managed to win the WDC. Showed time and time again how good he is, even with not the best of cars. Shame he probably won’t have another season in F1, so won’t break Barrichello’s race start record, but still.
    Good lap from Hamilton too, disappointing from Rosberg. Pretty much 2 by 2 through the field in teams, all within a 2 tenths of each other, except Mercedes, Renault and McLaren, because of Alonso’s penalties.

    1. I agree that Magnussen and Sainz pairing at Renault would be very strong. Ocon doesn’t seem to live up to expectations that were surrounding him.

      And it’s a big shame Button is retiring after this season (he is definetely not taking sabbatical, same situation as was with Hakkinen). He is still at top form and top driver.

      1. @osvaldas31 Ocon has just outqualified Wehrlein, so I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about. Were you expecting him to just jump in the car and beat Wehrlein immediately?

        1. Well I think @osvaldas31expected Ocon to be on pole @mashiat! :D

    2. thatscienceguy
      1st October 2016, 16:21

      I put it to James Allen that Renault have to be looking hard at Sainz for next year. Allen said that Renault had tried very hard to get him but Sainz was wedged in at Red Bull/TR, but could move in 2018.

      1. Why would RB/TR let Sainz go to competition if they have him locked in by contract?

        1. Well, if they have nothing for him at RB, they should free him. He has already proven his worth at TR, he needs a better car. Renault is not there yet but they will pass TR with time.

  9. Agreeing with all your good points!
    One can wonder why Renault is hesitating to sign up Magnussen. Don’t even now where they think they can find 2 new better drivers. Finding 1 new better driver is probably possible, though most other teams do not seem eager to let their more experienced drivers go. Perez appeared this morning to confirm he stays put for 2017, which removes the most likely candidate Renault was after.

  10. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
    1st October 2016, 13:23

    Red Bull, Ferrari and Force India teammates are separated by 1/10th or less, Hamilton beat Rosberg by over 4/10ths – and Rosberg’s no slowcoach! Phenomenal lap from Hamilton.

  11. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    1st October 2016, 13:26

    Maybe this is a good opportunity for Hamilton to thank the “switched” mechanics, (the ones he keeps implying that make him not win, the ones who came from Rosberg’s side), for this pole position.

    1. Are you kiding me?
      Even if you are a Seb fan, still… cheap!

    2. Really ? That’s interesting, can you please provide evidence of a quote from Hamilton that suggests he is blaming his engineers for being slow sometimes ??

      1. Not just one quote. Apparently he *keeps* doing it so he should be able to provide several quotes from throughout the year.

      2. He doesn’t directly say that, but does imply he doesn’t believe his current mechanics are as good as his previous ones:

        1. Nothing in there implies anything like that. Counter to that Hamilton has said more than once that he has full confidence in his mechanics. That is actually *said*, not just the word twisting that bias internet commenters do.

        2. Err– No, What he said was, switching up the garages like that had a psychological impact.

          Which is perfectly understandable– he’s been working fine with his side of the garage for three years, he’s won two championships, they all understand each other– so Wolff decides to arbitrarily switch the drivers around (not between seasons, but as soon as Hamilton won the championship– and started a run of race losses to Rosberg).

          Not, as Wolff claims, to “grow the team”– if that was the goal, he’d have switched up people between the two sides of the garage (which would be a much better way to keep the “us” and “them” mentality from forming), but because he either A) wanted to find out if one side of the garage was more competent or B) wanted Rosberg to win instead of Hamilton.

          It feels very much like Wolff is creating the “A team” and “B team” in his garage, and that, more than any internet conspiracy I’ve heard, smacks of favoritism.

    3. @omarr-pepper And what ‘opportunity’ would we actually be referring to here?

    4. Well @omarr-pepper, he did it during the post qualy interview.

  12. @omarr-pepper And what ‘opportunity’ would we actually be referring to here?

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      1st October 2016, 18:06

      @stubbornswiss and “Martin” (who should at least sign up instead of being ironic or a wise guy)

      For your information

      1. Nowhere in your link does he say or imply that his mechanics are stopping him from winnng. Even if it did that would just be one time, not the many you said he made! Also you ignored that He does directly say that *he* needs to do better, not t his mechanics. Just shown yourself up as the bias commenter you are there mate!

      2. “Martin” (who should at least sign up instead of being ironic or a wise guy)

        Lol what? How is not having an account being ironic? Or a wise guy?

  13. geoffgroom44 (@)
    1st October 2016, 18:18

    I am reading one report that says “The reigning world champion clocked the fastest lap ever recorded at the 5.543km circuit in 1min 32.850sec.”. Can anyone confirm this please?

  14. geoffgroom44 (@)
    1st October 2016, 18:22

    Can I be forgiven for sometimes feeling that Lewis plays a mean game of cat and mouse with the championship? I am reminded of the old Victor Borge (pianist/comedian) who was such an expert he could deliberately make mistakes (and then rescue the deliberate error) just to make the performance more interesting. Am I the only one that gets this feeling?

    1. yeah, I am sure Lewis loves missing out on taking wins and poles just to keep things entertaining. He loves lying to people and pretending to be upset. He likes risking everything including his own championships for the last two seasons, to ensure the ‘fans’ are entertained till the last race, and he even pays off his own mechanics to make sure they don’t tighten down hose clamps, and asks his engineers to play lottery with his clutch settings. If only Nico had the balls to start from the back of the grid almost routinely, incur penalties and take more risks with his clutch settings.

      Just imagine if Lewis had the same effective performance in terms of reliability and car development as his teammate in the last three years, it would have been a clear no contest 2014,2015, and 2016. But then people would be getting mad and accusing Lewis of getting special treatment, because clearly the more intelligent and exceptional ROSberg should be beating the clearly defined archetype known as Lewis Hamilton.

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