Malaysian GP 2016
OCTOBER 1, 2016
Qualifying Report - Round out
By Dan Knutson in Sepang
Lewis Hamilton has 99 podium finishes in his Formula 1 career, and 49 of those are wins. By earning his 57th career F1 pole in Sepang he has put himself in the prime spot to round out those numbers to 100 podiums and 50 wins with a victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Centigrade.) There was a 20 percent chance of rain.
The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen . Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
Rosberg and Hamilton went out early in the 18 minute session, and used the soft Pirelli compound tires to clock times of 1:34.460 and 1:34.444 respectively.
Button had a quick spin at Turn 14. "Sooo much traffic, they're not getting out of the way," he radioed.
The Red Bull and Ferrari drivers chose the medium compound tires for their first runs. And after most drivers had done their first runs, the top 10 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Massa, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Vettel.
Palmer was 16th and on the cut line to make it to Q2, while Button was 15th and Gutierrez 17th.
Vettel got the soft Pirellis for his next run, as did Raikkonen. They moved up to fourth and third.
With three minutes to go, Button, Palmer and Gutierrez were in the same positions, but they and everybody around them in the running order were on track.
When it was all over, the six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP1 were: Ericsson, Nasr, Palmer, Ocon, Wehrlein and Alonso.
The fastest 16 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Perez, Ricciardo, Bottas, Massa, Button, Grosjean, Verstappen, Magnussen, Sainz, Gutierrez and Kvyat.
Hamilton and Rosberg, on the soft tires, were the first out for the 15 minute session. Others followed, and it was soft compound Pirellis all round.
Rosberg turned a 1:33.609 and then Hamilton crossed the line with a 1:33.046. Verstappen went into third with a 1:33.775, and Ricciardo took fourth with a 1:33.888. But the Ferrari drivers had yet to set times. When they did, Raikkonen and Vettel ended up fifth and sixth. Massa was seventh.
Down at the bubble, Hulkenberg was 10th, with Bottas ninth and Button 11th.
Drivers started to trickle back out on the track less than three minutes remaining in the session, but the top seven stayed in the garages.
The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP2 were: Bottas, Grosjean, Gutierrez, Magnussen, Kvyat and Sainz.
The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Vettel, Massa, Button, Hulkenberg and Perez.
Q3 lasted 12 minutes, so the drivers had time to do two runs. But Button did not go out when the other nine did. Soft compound Pirellis were essentials for the session.
Verstappen clocked a 1:33.420, and Hamilton beat that with a 1:32.850. Ricciardo was third, while Rosberg, who ran wide on his lap, was fifth behind Raikkonen. Vettel ended up sixth ahead of Massa, Perez and Hulkenberg.
So it all came down to the final three minutes, but it was more going to be a battle from second on down as Hamilton was really flying. All ten drivers were on track for a final fling.
Rosberg turned a 1:32.264 to take second place. Hamilton, who had a lock up, and Verstappen did not improve and ended up first and third. Ricciardo's 1:33.467 put him fourth. Vettel finally got ahead of Raikkonen to grab fifth. Perez, Hulkenberg, Button and Massa rounded out the top 10.