Lewis Hamilton blitzed his rivals in qualifying Saturday to secure pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The reigning world champion clocked the fastest lap ever recorded at the 5.543km circuit in 1min 32.850sec.
His amazing drive eclipsed the pole position lap record for Sepang set by Juan Pablo Montoya in a Williams way back in 2004.
But Hamilton still reckoned it wasn’t perfect despite being more than four-tenths faster than Mercedes rival and championship leader Nico Rosberg.
“I really enjoyed the lap. It could have been faster,” said Hamilton, who has consistently outpaced his rival Rosberg all week.
It marks a welcome and timely return to form for the three-time world champion after his Mercedes teammate won the last three races to open up an eight-point title race lead.
Hamilton trailed Rosberg by 43 points after the first four races of a rollercoaster season, only to turn that into a 19-point lead.
The hard-won advantage evaporated as the German sped to victory in Belgium, Italy and then Singapore two weeks ago.
“This is definitely the best the car has been here,” Hamilton told reporters.
“A huge thank you to the team, who continue through the whole year to improve,” he added after his eighth pole position in 15 races so far this season.
“It’s great work coming here after the last few weeks with Nico’s wins.”
Rosberg’s best lap was hampered by a wobble at the remodelled final hairpin turn 15, which now has a tricky negative camber to negotiate under braking.
“Lewis’s lap was very quick so it was always going to be difficult,” said Rosberg. “I would have been close, but unfortunately I made a mistake in the last corner.”