Hamilton claims Sepang pole, luckless Vettel to start from back of grid

Red Bull Dominates First Practice Session at Malaysia GP

"I didn't sleep very well, just like all my engineers, we didn't know whether we would fix the issue or not".

"Today we arrived and the auto was much better but still it looked like Ferrari was a little bit ahead, so some big calls to make ahead of qualifying".

It allowed Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton to win from fifth on the grid to extend his championship lead from three points to 28.

With Vettel at the back of the field, Raikkonen will lead Ferrari's charge after missing out on pole by a mere 0.045 seconds.

Worryingly for Hamilton, the auto was struggling on both short runs with low fuel and longer runs with high fuel.

"We didn't get all the test items tested today, but I think that is going to be the case with all the teams". "We just need to try to do always a flawless job".

Max Verstappen qualified third ahead of Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, while Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was fifth.

Vettel, who has a record four wins at Sepang to Hamilton's one, scored his maiden triumph for Ferrari there in 2015 while team mate Kimi Raikkonen chalked up his first Formula One victory at the track in 2003 with McLaren. That is why we ended up staying on it.

The German team have struggled all weekend with what Mercedes boss Toto Wolff on Saturday described as a "capricious" vehicle.

Red Bull Dominates First Practice Session at Malaysia GP
Sebastian Vettel: “Anything can happen and that's why we race”

Mercedes struggled to get its upgraded F1 vehicle working properly throughout the free practice sessions at the Sepang circuit, but turned things around just in time for Hamilton to get the job done in qualifying.

"We're definitely lacking some performance, it seems like Ferrari and Red Bull are very strong".

"We need to see now what the problem is but we managed to do the change in time".

"The auto seems to be unbalanced and that triggers an terrible lot of consequences and it was certainly one of the worst Fridays I can remember", the Austrian said.

Ricciardo added: "I think Mercedes were quite heavy today". The lights went off, obviously, we did our starts, everyone was trying to move at the start, and it was the way it happened.

"I know the ambitions of the team, but it is not like I am going into this weekend thinking that I will go out on the track helping Lewis". They soon went to the top of the time sheet, but only temporarily, as both Raikkonen and Verstappen went faster by less than a tenth of a second.

"In FP3, we did a long-ish short run, only five laps". Vettel meanwhile abandoned his lap and limped back to the pits. Watch the Malaysia GP live on Sky Sports F1.

"When you get that close it's a disappointment", said Raikkonen. The race begins at 8am on Sunday, October 1.

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