Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Sepang International Circuit, 2017

Hamilton pips Raikkonen to pole as engine fault leaves Vettel last

2017 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton’s championship hopes received a massive boost in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver secured his 70th career pole position and became unbeatable in the contest for the 2017 pole position trophy.

But more important for his title hopes was the disaster which befell Sebastian Vettel. The Ferrari driver failed to set a time in Q1 due to problems with his power unit, and is set to start the Malaysian Grand Prix from last on the grid.


As the first part of qualifying began the Ferrari mechanics were hurriedly completing a power unit change on Vettel’s car. His Ferrari V6 hybrid turbo had faltered in the final minutes of final practice, leaving them little more than two hours to fit a replacement.

The team got Vettel out on track in good time, but all was still not well with his SF70H. He reported a lack of power on his lap, suggested the turbo wasn’t working, and returned to the pits. Ferrari made one last effort to get him back out but as the clock ticked down car number five went nowhere.

Vettel’s shock elimination meant five of the six Ferrari-engined entries fell at the first hurdle. Pierre Gasly, in his first qualifying session, reached Q2 at the expense of Romain Grosjean. The Haas driver joined his team mate and the two Sauber drivers in dropping out.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’33.308
17 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’33.434
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.483
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.970
20 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari


With Vettel out it fell to Raikkonen to carry Ferrari’s hopes through the rest of qualifying. He gave a good account of himself in Q2, setting the quickest time initially, with Max Verstappen and Hamilton hundredths behind.

After a frantic burst of final laps during which several drivers complained about traffic, McLaren delivered on the potential they had shown on Friday by beating both Williams drivers into Q3.

The Toro Rosso drivers were also among those who failed to make the cut. Pierre Gasly said he could have found more time if it hadn’t been for traffic, but the newcomer ended the session just a tenth of a second behind his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’32.034
12 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’32.100
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1’32.307
14 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’32.402
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Renault 1’32.558


Raikkonen’s sole remaining Ferrari wasn’t able to contain Hamilton. On his first run, Hamilton was told to make a settings change on his power unit, but he duly produced a lap within a few hundredths of a second of breaking the 90 second barrier. Raikkonen was two-tenths adrift.

Starting his final lap Hamilton said he was concerned his power unit wasn’t giving full performance. He nonetheless managed to improve his time through the middle sector, but couldn’t carry the advantage through to the end of the lap.

Raikkonen had Hamilton’s time in his sights. He went even quicker through the middle part of the lap and was poised to deny his rival pole position, but a small error at the final corner cost him time. The Ferrari crossed the line with a time less than five hundredths of a second slower than the Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo had been the quicker of the two Red Bulls on his first run. But Verstappen outdid him the next time around and celebrated his 20th birthday by taking third on the grid by five-hundredths of a second. The pair were quicker than Bottas, who ended up fifth, over six-tenths slower than his team mate.

Force India and McLaren’s old hands were outdone by their less experienced team mates. Esteban Ocon claimed sixth ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, and the pair were separated from their sister cars by Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’30.076
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’30.121
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’30.541
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’30.595
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’30.758
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1’31.478
7 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1’31.582
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’31.607
9 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’31.658
10 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’31.704

2017 Malaysian Grand Prix

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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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65 comments on “Hamilton pips Raikkonen to pole as engine fault leaves Vettel last”

  1. Let’s hope Verstappen doesn’t get smashed off again…

    1. No worries crashtell is at the back of the grid.

    2. Well, he has nothing to lose… so probably will again take all the risks so crash again too with high probability.

    3. Nope Kimi has probably orders to set HAM as his target. That’s the only chance they have to let VET run for champion left.
      So after the first corners VES leads the race..

  2. RAI will have to watch closely for VER, if HAM gets a good clean getaway i don’t see him having problems. I’m going to be very intrigued on the strategy Ferrari run tomorrow…

    1. How come?! You’re obviously way too suspicious about Ferrari. VET is at the back of the grid and no big chances (without a SC period) to finish even in top5, while RAI has big chances to win this race. Don’t tell me you believe Ferrari will mess his strategy again to get VET in front… ’cause it won’t happen. There were a lot more chances to make that happen at Silverstone for example, yet they “failed” to do it. So far, all this theory that Ferrari is messing RAI strategy to keep VET in front is more like theory. At Mercedes it’s no theory, it’s fact.

      1. @mg1982, can’t help but feel that you’ve completely misread his post – I suspect that he was interested to see what strategic options Ferrari might have to help Vettel get through the field, not some paranoid theory that they would screw Kimi over. It’s also clear that, when he talks about getting a clean getaway, he was talking about the need for Kimi to stay ahead of Verstappen in order to maintain pressure on Hamilton – if anybody is being too suspicious, it seems to be you.

        1. My post didn’t even mention VET, he has a mountain to climb and should be thinking damage limitation; if an opportunity arises tomorrow they’ll take it as HAM did in Singapore. I want VER to stay in the race and RAI to put pressure on HAM but not at the expense of someone getting a DNF which would just annoy me greatly. Reason why i’m going to be intrigued as clearly the Ferrari car is good and they are more than in kissing distance of the Mercedes plus it’s possible to overtake on this track.

    2. if HAM gets a good clean getaway i don’t see him having problems

      @icarby I’m not so sure. The Mercedes have evidently cast out some of the gremlins from yesterday, but there’s still a considerable question mark over their race pace. Although usually not as quick as his team-mate in race trim I think Raikkonen should be able to keep Lewis honest and put some serious pressure on him for the undercut under the first round of stops. Worse for Hamilton is if Verstappen leapfrogs Kimi off the start, then I think Mercedes will have a real scrap on their hands keeping the Red Bull behind in race trim.

      1. Well, if the Spa race is anything to go by as long as HAM is in front he should be able to deal with anything thats thrown at him.

        1. This. Has Hamilton lost a race this year, when he is leading lap 1?

          1. @icarby @jureo Called it ;)

          2. Touche :)

  3. Yawn… Championship over bar a miracle for Vettel. So annoying that such a good title battle we’ve been wanting for so long has been ruined just like that. After Singapore he still had a chance, but now? Can’t see it unless Hamilton retires once and has a poor weekend.
    And Mercedes again, no matter how ‘poor’ they look in practice, they can just drop about 20 sandbags, turn their engine all the way up to powers Ferrari can only dream of, and take pole. And people still argue that the Ferrari is quickest.

    1. Best car this year- SF-70H
      Fastest car this year- W08
      Best team this year- Mercedes

      I would love to see Lewis in that Ferrari because it is clearly easier to drive and easier to setup. I’d rather have the Ferrari over the Mercedes because of its wider tyre operating range and its pace. The only thing drivers need to do is to extract the performance of the car, which, if it responds well to your driving, is easier than a car that is fast but harder to setup. Although in F1 2017, I absolutely dislike the Ferrari under braking in comparison to the Mercedes, even though it’s just a game.

      1. No way the best car is the Ferrari with the difference in points between teams, since the start of the championship.

      2. @krichelle
        Ferrari is not easier to setup than Mercedes. This is an excuse used by Hamilton fans to explain away his poor performances in Russia and Monaco. Ferrari themselves were far worse at Baku, Silverstone, and Monza (1 second deficit) than Mercedes have been at any circuit.

    2. @hugh11, so Kimi, the driver who has generally been the slower of the two Ferrari drivers, was up on Hamilton’s time and was on course to take pole position until he made a mistake in the last corner – as it was, he only narrowly missed out on pole.

      That doesn’t scream to me that Mercedes were vastly faster – if anything, if Kimi, a driver who, even when he has had clean laps, generally been several tenths to half a second off his team mate in qualifying in recent races, could come so close to taking pole despite making a mistake on his fastest lap, it suggests to me that Ferrari probably do have the quicker car this weekend.

    3. Ferrari had the best car in Singapore and they clearly have the best car this weekend.

      Its not Mercs fault that they blew it. If Vettel is not leading this championship he only has Ferrari and himself to blame

      1. Ferrari have had the best car on several weekends but haven’t capitalised for one reason or another.

    4. @hugh11

      turn their engine all the way up to powers Ferrari can only dream of, and take pole

      …by 5 hundreds of a second,right. Ferrari probably can’t understand how Mercedes are able to destroy their second driver with that super high power engine mode giving them extra hundredths each lap.

    5. @hugh11, They forgot to turn that engine up in Bottas’ car? Also, Ferrari were indeed quicker all weekend so far and also in Singapore and Spa. Silverstone they also looked good until Vettel had an average Q3 and “average” start to end up behind Verstappen and then mess up using a a poor gamble on a long strategy which never worked for someone who slams over the kerbs and drives off track a lot like Vettel does.

      They are simply being beaten by a better driver. One who is a bit smarter and can just go that little bit faster when he needs to.

      Vettel could (should) have been miles ahead in points by now. Both he and Raikkonen just don’t seem to be performing optimally during the race. Although in Raikkonen’s case he’s also not helped by getting Vettel’s leftovers for strategy and he always seems to have some small car issues holding him back.

      1. Bottas has been poor since the break – he was behind the Red Bull’s today, so that’s not a good argument. Singapore, yeah Ferrari were quicker, but not at Spa. Silverstone Mercedes had the edge easily.

        Re the better driver – Vettel’s been a lot more consistent. Hamilton’s had some much poorer weekends, whereas Vettel has been more unlucky – only off the podium in 4 races, Baku was his fault for being stupid, Canada he lost part of his front wing at the start, Britain he got the puncture (although not sure he’d have been on the podium there), and Singapore was mostly his fault too. But he hasn’t had poor weekends like Hamilton has at Russia, Monaco and Austria (but he was able to get 2 4th places out of that due to the car being so much better than those around)

        I disagree with your next point too. Mercedes has been quicker at more races, Ferrari’s only really had a proper edge at Russia, Monaco, Hungary and Singapore.

  4. I understand rain is predicted tomorrow. If so that should be interesting!

    1. Rain, HAM wins by at least 30s then? Or if Max makes it through the first lap, maybe HAM wins by 10s.

      1. Red Bull were faster a lot when the track was wet. Although that was when Hamilton was still struggling with the new aero, so perhaps it changed.

  5. Probably Kimi’s best shot at a win this year if Ferrari can come through with a decent strategy.

    1. Let’s get the start out of the way first and take it from there.

    2. Yes, Raikkonen usually starts well. Would be nice to see him take the race win again finally.

      I wonder if they also put some people on getting Raikkonen a good strategy during the race. Since Vettel is not fighting for the win they might, but on the other hand they need Vettel back to front so they probably will focus 99% on Vettel again anyway.

  6. Vandoorne and Gasly. Not bad…

    1. Vandoorne has impressed this season high hopes for him, Gasly was also impressive.

  7. How much faster than Hamilton’s was Raikkonen’s second split time??
    He seemed to have lost at least 0.3 sec. in the last corner. Could’ve taken the pole convincingly.

    1. Lewis also locked up on his 1:30.0 lap there as well.

    2. @damon KR didn’t lose any time in the last corner. Last sector in Sepang is all about power and Merc is still leading on that.

      1. @montreal95, this would be the same final sector where Kimi was consistently faster than Bottas and the supposedly underpowered Red Bull’s were neck and neck with Kimi and Bottas? Where the underpowered McLaren-Honda was the sixth fastest car in that sector, faster than the Force India’s and Williams cars?

        I know that there is an obsession with claiming that the Mercedes engine is magically so much more powerful than their rivals, but the required power advantage would need to be rather less credible than any difference in drag coefficient would need to be explain any difference in top speed (top speed varying with the cube of engine power, whereas a few percent reduction in the drag coefficient would have a much more pronounced effect). I can’t help but feel that the oversimplified lies about the relative strengths of each car is hiding a more complex truth.

        1. @anon Just a few questions for the nice theory you’d developed:
          Bottas was driving with the not-working upgrade that caused the car to slide and overheat the tires, was he not? Where would that possibly be exposed more at the beginning of the lap or the end?

          You don’t think the Honda is underpowered then? I’d love to see you proving it. You don’t think this has anything to do with the McHonda having to make do with a lower downforce setup to compensate?

          Of course it’s complicated, but the basic thing stands according to most experts and I haven’t seen anyone develop an alternative valid theory yet. And the basics are: Merc has the most powerful PU, especially in qualy mode. Ferrari are relatively close in qualy mode and even closer in race mode but not yet at the same level. Renault are close to the top two in race mode but a bit behind and don’t have a powerful mode yet. Honda are improving but are clearly last in power. I repeat: do you have any proof to the contrary except your feeling?

          1. @montreal95, I brought up the performance of the McLaren-Honda car to point out that, according to your line of reasoning that the third sector is “all about power”, your line of logic would dictate that the McLaren-Honda must be fairly powerful if they were registering comparatively quick times in that sector.

            Furthermore, you have in fact rather contradicted yourself because, according to you, the middle sector is a high downforce sector, where Vandoorne was also 6th fastest – so according to your logic, if that middle sector is “all about downforce”, the strength of McLaren’s performance in that sector would contradict your assertion that McLaren must be running a low downforce set up.

            Your theories effectively require McLaren to be in both a high and low downforce configuration around different parts of the circuit, or require Honda to have a more powerful engine than you are willing to accredit them (since you state that Honda is “clearly last in power”). What I’m doing is pointing out that you have been contradicting yourself with your statements, as if you came to a decision first and then tried to make the world fit to your beliefs.

    3. you just pulled the 0.3s out of your hat, he definitely did not lose that amount of time.
      Hard to say if he’d be on pole without that lockup, maybe, but it didn’t seem to me he compromised the corner too much as a result.

      by the way, very strange/wide lines employed through that last corner, since it’s been flattened, interesting to see

  8. It’s a myth that Raikkonen’s mistake on the last corner lost him the pole. this myth is based on a bigger and ancient myth that a lock-up necessarily costs you time. It doesn’t. It definitely costs you tire longevity but on the last corner of a qualy lap, as long as you stay on the perfect line and carry the speed it costs you nothing. Raikkonen stayed on the perfect line and carried the speed. So it’s not that which cost him pole.

    There’s a much simpler explanation. The Sepang third sector is all about power. That’s why the Merc was so great there. Sepang second sector is all about downforce. That’s why Ferrari was mighty there. Sepang first sector is about both. That’s why Merc and Ferrari were very close there.

    1. All in all Hamilton looks much stronger then the competition this year. But I also believe the older rules masked the more natural drivers like Ham, Max, Alo and Vet I guess. IMO.

    2. Ferrari have more downforce. So they will have more drag on the straight. Which will cost in top speed.

      It’s always been like that.

    3. The Sepang third sector is all about power. That’s why the Merc was so great there

      I know right! The top 8 fastest S3 times were all Mercedes engines because they are so awesome and S3 is all about power…

      … except no. There wasn’t that much difference in the S3 times (less than 2 tenths across the top 5, majority of top 5 were non Merc engines) and the top 8 was made up of a Ferrari, a Honda and two Renaults, hardly a Merc whitewash.

      Sepang second sector is all about downforce. That’s why Ferrari was mighty there

      Kimi was 0.006 faster than Lewis in S2, that is what you define as mighty? Or are you saying Ferrari was mighty in S2 and Lewis was mighty in S2 to match the might Ferrari’s time?

  9. Kimi’s performance was quite good today because this is one of few chances he has to fight for win this year. If Arrivabene/Marchionne will call him things or will start questioning his contract He might really step up and win this.

  10. Ferrari may well have a race pace advantage if it’s dry, this isn’t over yet.

    If Vettel can keep it clean and pick his way through the field a mid-race SC will make it game on.

    Unlikely but not that unlikely. Can Red Bull challenge Mercedes tomorrow?

    1. Maybe Raikonnen will crash on lap 14 … ;)

  11. Not convinced Mercedes will have the race pace of even Raikkonen’s Ferrari.

    So I think if Raikkonen gets away well and leads into T1, he’ll win with relative ease. If Hamilton is ahead, it’ll be an interesting afternoon.

  12. Only little under 3 seconds faster than last year’s pole lap on a circuit similar to Shanghai where the gap was close to 4 seconds. I was expecting much more improvement from last season.

  13. I think mercedes is incredible with hamilton :) literally

    everytime on fridays, i remember this scene…

  14. As well as a few weeks ago it looked like Vettel would have the last laugh on whether Ferrari would finally win a championship it is now looking more and more unlikely.
    Unlikely but not for the good reasons as the team screwed quite a certain amount of points and failed to capitalize on Mercedes’ weaknesses. They also have been quite unlucky on the reliability today. Introducing its fourth engine before schedule for Vettel will have a lot of consequences later in the season.
    Meanwhile Mercedes somehow managed damage limitation way better than Ferrari and escaped quite some potential bad results

    1. @spoutnik, What has been costing Ferrari a lot “lately” has been Vettel’s slightly poor starts. He doesn’t cope well with that situation and ends up touching other cars losing even more places (Canada, Silverstone, Singapore). Oddly enough Raikkonen seems to have great starts compared to the other cars in the top 6.

      Vettel also had some scruffy Q3 attempts. Especially at times when it looked like Ferrari could take pole (Canada, Silverstone, Spa), while Hamilton does seem to rise a bit above the rest and extract those few tenths extra when the pressure is on.

      Not getting pole also puts extra pressure on Vettel for the start and he doesn’t deal well with pressure.

      1. Especially at times when it looked like Ferrari could take pole (Canada, Silverstone, Spa)

        You can count Spain in there too.

  15. Is there anyone on this site who grimaces every time hearing Sky commentary. It’s just miserable. May be I need to vent but seriously can we have some impartial commentators? It’s just always Lewis this Lewis that… the Brits argh – it’s just really frustrating. Sure, Seb starts last but can they not rub it in? It is such a disgrace…

    1. Yeah, they do focus more on the British drivers, but I can’t think of any sports that sort of thing doesn’t happen with. As far as I can tell, impartial commentary on anything international is extremely rare. Cricket sometimes, maybe… but even that’s only sometimes.

      I’d assume the producers actually tell Croft/Brundle to do it, because British viewers are their main target audience and whatever market research they’ve done indicates that pro-British commentary will go down well.

    2. You are complaining that a show aimed at a UK audience is primarily geared towards a UK audience?

      1. Yes because that SHOULDNT be the case. Is a WORLD championship and not a British championship. Other than Hamilton, the UK hasn’t had a proper F1 success story in years.

    3. Was watching Channel 4, it was good.

    4. Sure, Seb starts last but can they not rub it in? It is such a disgrace

      Quotes showing how they were “rubbing it in” please?

      1. Really?? So now you want me to go back, listen to the whole thing again and give you quotes? As if I have all the time in the world to do that for you? Either (a) accept that the commentators are biased as hell or (b) disagree with me politely rather than being an investigator.

      2. And since I remember it now, it was about how Seb’s calm demeanour was a “facade” and that there would be a hole in the wall like Alonso in singapore. But hey, when Lewis crops up, it’s like rose tinted glasses like no ones business.

      3. @martin and during the race – I have been keeping tabs. Indicating that Kevin mag will move aside for seb coz he has a Ferrari engine in the back, saying “wondering why Vettel isn’t doing any fast laps on these tires” when he constantly was…. I mean I can go on and on. It is a disgrace.

        1. Really


          So now you want me to go back, listen to the whole thing again

          No, but I kinda expect that if you are going to make statements that you can back them up.

          disagree with me politely

          I said please

          it was about how Seb’s calm demeanour was a “facade”

          That is neither rubbing it in nor any worse than what they have said about other drivers, Hamilton included.

          But hey, when Lewis crops up, it’s like rose tinted glasses like no ones busines

          It’s really not.

          Indicating that Kevin mag will move aside for seb coz he has a Ferrari engine in the bac

          Again that is not rubbing it in, nor is it about the engine but the fact that Haas are basically the Ferrari B team, comments like that have been directed at the Toro Rosso drivers when there is a Red Bull on the charge too.

          I mean I can go on and on

          Please do.

    5. Not completely sure on this @thedoctor03 @neilosjames coz some of the pre-commercial cutscenes are clearly revelling in the Ferrari/Vettel renaissance. I sometimes find them to be too moment-orientated, in that they seem to heap praise on the driver that has performed well in a specific session and almost be doom and gloom about others, but then it flips on another race Weekend

      1. Fair point mate… Guess I was just wayyyy too frustrated yesterday. But I really wish I had more neutral commentary to listen to.

  16. Three wins in a row, only real title competitor plagued by car and driver unreliability… One happy Vegan him.

    I hope tommorow Mercedes is way of pace. Only then we will see a proper title fight.

    But this being Lewis, and a regular looking track… No way Mercedes will be that slow.

    1. I just don’t buy that Vettel is in as much trouble as suggested. The weather willl likely be mixed on a track that overtaking is possible. I expect him to get a great heap of points tomorrow, and people to be praising his magnificent recovery drive

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