Lewis Hamilton did not have the greatest of season openers in Melbourne at the Australian Grand Prix, but after securing pole at the Malaysian GP, the Mercedes driver will look to take his car all the way and stand on the top step of the podium come the end of the race on Sepang.
In an as-wet-as-it-gets qualifying session on Saturday, Hamilton pulled off the fastest lap to edge out world champion Sebastian Vettel, who himself bounced back from a forgettable opening race.
Hamilton timed 1:59.431, with Vettel second in 1:59.486. Hamilton's Mercedes teammate took third with 2:00.050.
"I'm really happy, firstly with the job the team has done and just generally how well we have done throughout the weekend," Hamilton said n Saturday. "But today was just incredible, how much, firstly, it rained before qualifying and then during the session it was very, very tricky out there I think for everyone.
"Particularly at the end it was almost impossible to see anything. During my last lap I just couldn't see a thing behind Hulkenberg. I couldn't see where the track went, didn't know where the corners were, when to brake.
"To start the lap I couldn't see where Fernando was behind me, so it was impossible to try to get a gap, so I had to bail out. But fortunately... very close. These guys [Vettel and Red Bull] are definitely a little bit too close, so happy to be here."
Formula One: Malaysian GP Live TV Information (Race starts 4 pm local time, 8 am GMT, 1.30 pm IST, 4 am ET):
|India||Star Sports 4, Star Sports HD2|
|United Kingdom||BBC, Sky Sports|
|Middle East and North Africa||Bein Sports Arabia|
|Germany, Italy||Sky Sport|
|UK||HERE or HERE or HERE|
|Canada||HERE or HERE|
|Germany and Italy||HERE or HERE|
Vettel will just be happy to see his car obey his commands after a disappointing opener, and the German now looks primed for his first win of the season at the second time of asking, a real bonus when Red Bull looked well off the pace in preseason testing.
"I think we always have a chance to beat everyone, that's why we're here," Vettel said when asked if he thought his car was competitive enough to outrace the Mercedes. "Obviously, in terms of a package, I think they [Mercedes] have the most competitive package.
"Lewis isn't digging around, equally, Nico is doing a very good job. It's difficult to beat them on the day but it's not impossible. It would be quite sad to wake up in the morning thinking that you can only finish second or fifth or eighth. We're here to win."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso will start fourth, with Vettel's Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo fifth, while the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen will round off the top six.
Nico Hulkenberg of Force India is seventh, but his teammate Sergio Perez disappointed, managing only 14th place on the grid. Kevin Magnussen outshone his more illustrious McLaren teammate again, taking eighth place, with Jenson Button in tenth, one place behind Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne.