May 18 2013 Latest news:
By Alan Davies, Formula One correspondent
Friday, March 23, 2012
FORMULA 1 racer Lewis Hamilton bids for back-to-back pole positions in qualifying for the 2012 Grand Prix of Malaysia tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
"Starting from the front will still be the best position for the race, and that’s what I’ll be going for tomorrow."
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver started last weekend’s season-opening Australian GP from pole in Melbourne.
Hamilton dominated the first two Malaysian practice sessions today (Friday).
And the Hertfordshire-born F1 star goes in qualifying around the Sepang International Circuit on Saturday looking to secure another front-row grid spot.
“I’m working as hard as I can to have as good a qualifying set-up as my race set-up and I think we’ve got a bit more of an understanding of how the car works on heavy fuel,” said Hamilton.
Top speed: 310km/h
Average speed: 220km/h
Pit straight length: 927m
Circuit length: 5.543km
Race length: 56 laps/310km
Number of corners: 15
Longest section at full throttle: 11.0s/927m
“I went wide a couple of times on my long run in P2, and looking after the tyres will be a tough call in the race – so it’s all about finding the right balance.
“Around here, overtaking will be a little more possible than in Melbourne.
“Nevertheless, starting from the front will still be the best position for the race, and that’s what I’ll be going for tomorrow.”
The 2008 F1 world champion added: “We’ve got to keep pushing, stay hydrated and remain focused – there’s a lot of hard work ahead.”
McLaren colleague Jenson Button was third fastest in second practice behind Hamilton and Michael Schumacher with a lap of 1m 38.535s.
Button said: “In the afternoon, I did some positive running on both tyre compounds – I think we have a good understanding of the tyre.
“But it’s going to be tough on both compounds around here with all the humidity and the heat.
“I think the race will be tough for all of us – unless the circuit improves a great deal, there’s going to be quite a few stops on Sunday!
“We want a good race car, but the aim for tomorrow is pole – you make your life a lot easier if you start from pole position, so we’re putting a lot of work into single-lap performance.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “Both Jenson and Lewis found the car to be generally consistent despite the gusty conditions, but Sepang is a much more challenging circuit than Albert Park so we’ll carry on working to improve the balance for qualifying tomorrow.
“I think we’re in for an exciting championship – a number of teams look extremely competitive and we’re going to have another close race this weekend.”
Qualifying for the 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix starts at 8am UK time on Saturday.
The race starts an hour later at 9am on Sunday – after the UK clocks have moved forward an hour to British Summer Time.