Lewis Hamilton takes pole at Malaysian GP ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton

World championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix with title rival Sebastian Vettel at the back of the grid.

Hamilton had been off the pace all weekend in practice but his Mercedes team turned it around in qualifying Saturday to head Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

But Vettel’s world championship hopes suffered a huge blow when his Ferrari failed to set a time in the first qualifying session, meaning he will start last.

Vettel, 28 points behind Hamilton in the title race, lost drive on his first flying lap.

“It feels like I have no turbo,” he said over team radio.

Hamilton was clearly surprised to be on pole after a torrid weekend where he had failed to be quicker than fifth in any practice session.

“We had no idea what was going to happen today,” said Hamilton.

“I’m sorry for what happened to Sebastian but somehow we managed to turn it around and it is a real surprise to be up here with these guys.

“I’m very grateful to the team. The car felt good.”

With mechanics unable to fix Vettel’s Ferrari before the end of Q1 the German will start from the back of the grid unless there are penalties for other drivers.

Vettel’s engine had been changed before qualifying after a similar gremlin in final practice Saturday only for the new unit to fail.

“Who knows what will happen tomorrow,” Vettel told AFP. “The race is tomorrow not today. We have a very quick car and we saved some tyres.

“If it happened tomorrow it would be more of a problem. Anything can happen – you saw that in Singapore two weeks ago how everything can change.”

In Singapore, Vettel had started from pole only to crash on a rain-soaked first lap as Lewis Hamilton won from fifth on the grid to extend his championship lead.

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Sebastian Vettel to start Malaysian Grand Prix in 20th position after engine failure during qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel’s world championship hopes suffered a huge blow on Saturday when his Ferrari failed to set a time in qualifying, meaning he will start last in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel, 28 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the title race, lost drive on his first flying lap.

“It feels like I have no turbo,” he said over team radio.

His mechanics could not fix the problem so he will start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s race at Sepang, unless there are penalties for other drivers.

Vettel’s engine had been changed before qualifying after a similar gremlin in final practice Saturday only for the new unit to fail.

“Who knows what will happen tomorrow,” Vettel told AFP. “The race is tomorrow not today. We have a very quick car and we saved some tyres.

“If it happened tomorrow it would be more of a problem. Anything can happen – you saw that in Singapore two weeks ago how everything can change.”

In Singapore, Vettel had started from pole only to crash on a rain-soaked first lap as Lewis Hamilton won from fifth on the grid to extend his championship lead.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Hamilton hoping history does not repeat itself and other talking points ahead of Malaysian GP

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The fight for the Formula One World Championship moves on to Malaysia this weekend with the race expected to be the last held at the Sepang circuit.

Dwindling support from both spectators and local government means the Malaysian Grand Prix will drop off the calendar after this year.

Ahead of the race, Press Association Sport looks at the major talking points as the season rolls on.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

Although Japan was an established destination in the world of F1, the introduction of the malaysian Grand Prix in 1999 heralded a new dawn in the sport.

Tracks across Asia and the world sprang up in the ensuing years but few managed to follow in the footsteps of Suzuka and Fuji.

Races in Turkey, India and South Korea came and went largely unnoticed and now malaysia, with the bright lights of the Singapore night-race just down the road, is falling by the wayside.

There have been memorable moments and title-defining incidents throughout the history of the race and it would be great if Sepang could go out with a bang.

Sepang

LEWIS HOPING HISTORY DOES NOT REPEAT…

One of those title-defining memories came here last year as Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure while leading the race.

His Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg had collided with Sebastian Vettel at the start and fallen to the back.

Hamilton was on course to leapfrog the German in the standings before his engine gave up on lap 40. Rosberg recovered to finish third and took the drivers’ title away from Hamilton come the end of the year.

Lewis Hamilton

…BUT WILL WANT RECENT RECORD TO KEEP PLAYING

Hamilton heads to Sepang 28 points clear of closest challenger Vettel after a hat-trick of wins moved him into pole position for a fourth world title.

His victory less than 300 miles south in Singapore a fortnight ago could yet prove vital as Vettel retired following an opening-lap shunt.

A fourth straight win and Hamilton will be homing in on regaining the crown he lost to Rosberg in 2016.

Lewis Hamilton 1

NAGGING DOUBTS GROW OVER PRANCING HORSE’S TITLE CREDENTIALS

Vettel has looked like giving Hamilton a run for his money for much of the season but recent results have left him lingering.

While Hamilton heads to malaysia in fine form, Vettel has won only one of the last eight races.

The German has only made the podium in half of the races during that time and his early retirement in Singapore means he needs to come out fighting if he is to claim a fifth title.

Sebastian Vettel 4

TORO ROSSO PUT THEIR FOOT ON THE GASLY

Away from the battle at the very front of the field, it will be interesting to see how Pierre Gasly performs on his F1 debut.

The reigning GP2 champion replaces out-of-form Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso in Sepang as the 21-year-old Red Bull protege is put through his paces.

With Kvyat under pressure and Carlos Sainz departing for Renault next season, there is a permanent race-seat potentially in the offing if the Frenchman can impress.

Pierre Gasly

Provided by Press Association Sport

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