F1 title race heats up
Hamilton responds to Rosberg’s charge with pole in Malaysia
L ewis Hamilton hopes to deliver an empathic response to championship rival Nico Rosberg by claiming victory in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion was outclassed by Rosberg in Singapore two weeks ago as he fell eight points adrift of his Mercedes teammates.
However, after storming to pole position yesterday, Hamilton hopes that he can bring an end to Rosberg’s run of three successive victories.
“This has been a night and day difference to the weekend I had in Singapore,” said Hamilton, who finished half-a-second clear of Rosberg in qualifying. “The mechanics have been great leading up to Malaysia, as they have been all season, and the car felt fantastic.
“I don’t feel anything is going to stop us winning. As a team we have great pace and if you look at the last race, we had pretty good starts and we continuously work on that.
“I’m thinking of getting a launch off the grid and the car feels really good on the long runs.”
Momentum had appeared to be firmly on Rosberg’s side after his victory in Singapore, but the German will have to find a way past Hamilton to extend his championship advantage. Still, Rosberg feels he can make it four wins on the bounce in Malaysia. “Second place doesn’t mean victory is not possible, we have seen that many times,” Rosberg said after qualifying. “I am still optimistic for the race. “As we saw last year qualifying is not decisive, there are going to be a lot of opportunities. The start, definitely, and after that with race pace and strategy.” Starting behind the Mercedes duo will be Max Verstappen and Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who claimed third and fourth place respectively. However, Verstappen feels it will be difficult to challenge the dominance of the Mercedes pair.
“This weekend there has been positive changes after Singapore. Long race pace is promising, we needed to improve the short work and we did that,” said the Dutchman. “But I don’t know if we can beat them.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner was more positive about his team’s chances after being surprised to see his drivers qualify ahead of Ferrari.
“We didn’t expect that,” Horner said of getting ahead of both Ferraris.
“Hopefully we will be able to give Mercedes a race.”
The Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will start on the third row of the grid, while Fernando Alonso will start at the very back after serving a 45-place grid penalty following a raft of updates to his Honda engine.