Hamilton takes pole position for Malaysian GP, Vettel last

Sep 30, 2017
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain steers his car during the third practice session at the Sepang International Circuit for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix in Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. Photo by AP

SEPANG: Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday, while title rival Sebastian Vettel’s miserable luck continued as he quit early into the session after losing power on a straight.

Having struggled in practice, Mercedes driver Hamilton found the pace he needed to take the 70th pole of his career. Vettel will start from last.

There were heads in hands in the Ferrari garage as Vettel came back in the first part of qualifying. At least Kimi Raikkonen saved face, qualifying second and almost beating Hamilton’s time. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen qualified third on his 20th birthday.

Ferrari has little to celebrate.

Two weeks ago, Vettel wasted pole in Singapore when he caused a first-turn crash that took out Raikkonen, Verstappen and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso with him.

It handed Hamilton the championship initiative, extending his lead to 28 points. Another strong performance Sunday could see Hamilton take a giant stride toward a fourth F1 title with five races left after Malaysia. –AP