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2016 Malaysia Grand Prix,
Qualifying

MERCEDES DRIVER LEWIS HAMILTON CLAIMS POLE POSITION USING THE SOFT TYRE, CLOSE TO THE FASTEST-EVER LAP OF SEPANG 

FALLING TRACK TEMPERATURES AFFECT TRACK EVOLUTION AND TYRE BEHAVIOUR DURING LATE-AFTERNOON QUALIFYING SESSION

TWO STOPS THE MOST LIKELY STRATEGY FOR THE GRAND PRIX

Sepang, October 1, 2016 – Following record track temperatures in excess of 60 degrees centigrade yesterday, qualifying today got underway in the cooler conditions of late afternoon with 43 degrees centigrade.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton went fastest on the soft tyre in qualifying (as he did in FP3 earlier today) with a pole time of 1m32.850s: more than six seconds faster than last year’s fastest time, set in Q2, of 1m39.269s, and close to the fastest-ever lap run round Sepang, which was 1m32.582s (set by Fernando Alonso in first qualifying in 2005).

A mixture of soft and medium tyres were used throughout qualifying, with the exception of Williams driver Felipe Massa, who completed an installation lap on the hard compound. Different tactics were used by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo – who used just one set of medium tyres to get through to Q2 – while McLaren’s Fernando Alonso also did just one run on mediums, as he will start at the back tomorrow due to grid penalties.

Track temperatures continued to fall throughout Q2, with all the drivers using the soft tyre from start to finish and the majority just completing one run. This means that all the top 10 will start on the soft tyre tomorrow, which is around 1.2 seconds faster than the medium. 

The final top-10 shoot-out to decide pole, from which the win has been claimed in Malaysia nine times in 17 races, was also run entirely on the soft tyre. Some light drops of rain fell in the middle of Q3, with Hamilton securing his pole during the first run.

Two stops is likely to form the optimal race strategy tomorrow, with wear and degradation reduced compared to previous years as a result of the new track surface. However, the weather forecast predicts some rain showers, which could alter the complexion of the race.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The new track surface has clearly benefitted grip and traction, enabling one of the fastest-ever laps of Malaysia to be run today – more than six seconds faster than last year’s pole – using our soft tyre. We had falling track temperatures throughout the session, which presented a bit of a moving target for the teams, but they quickly got on top of that. There’s still something of a question mark over the weather but with all the top 10 starting on the soft tyre, we should see some interesting strategies at the front end of the field as the long runs seem closely matched.”

How the tyres behaved today: 
Hard: Used just by Felipe Massa for an installation run in Q1, obligatory for race.
Medium: Seen in Q1 but not used thereafter: some drivers may not run it in the race.
Soft: Used to set second-fastest lap in Sepang’s history: all the top 10 will start on this.

Free practice 3 - top three times
Hamilton         1m34.434s     Soft new
Verstappen     1m34.879s     Soft new
Rosberg          1m35.053s     Soft new

Qualifying top 10
Hamilton       1m32.850s     Soft new
Rosberg        1m33.264s     Soft new
Verstappen   1m33.420s     Soft new
Ricciardo       1m33.467s     Soft new
Vettel             1m33.584s     Soft new
Raikkonen      1m33.632s     Soft new
Perez             1m34.319s       Soft new
Hulkenberg    1m34.489s     Soft new
Button            1m34.518s     Soft new
Massa             1m34.671s     Soft new

Most laps by compound so far
Hard          Ocon           24 laps
Medium     Grosjean     20
Medium     Hamilton     20 
Soft           Gutierrez     20
Soft           Vettel           20
Soft           Wehrlein      20 

Best time by compound so far
Hard          Hamilton      1m35.956s
Medium     Ricciardo     1m35.079s
Soft           Hamilton      1m32.850s

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