Lewis Hamilton will start in the pole position for a second straight Formula One race at tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix after qualifying just ahead of McLaren teammate Jenson Button.
Hamilton posted a lap time of 1 minute, 36.219 seconds to lead qualifying at the Sepang International Circuit today, 0.15 seconds faster than Button. Record seven-time champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes was third-fastest and Red Bull’s Mark Webber fourth.
It’s the highest qualifying position for Schumacher since he returned in 2010 after three years away. “We definitely have a much-improved car compared to last season,” Schumacher, 43, told a televised news conference. He hasn’t won a race since his return.
Defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull will start in fifth place. Kimi Raikkonen, fifth-fastest for the Lotus team, will start 10th after getting a five-place penalty because his car needed a new gearbox. Teams are required to use gearboxes for at least five straight races under series rules.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will start in eight and 12th place, respectively, on the 24-car starting grid after their Ferraris were more than 1.3 seconds off the pace.
Button won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 18. Vettel was second and Hamilton third.
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