Hamilton praises Mercedes team effort after bagging pole position

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Lewis Hamilton has heaped praise upon the Mercedes team after securing his second consecutive pole position in Malaysia after edging out defending world champion Sebastian Vettel during qualifying on Saturday afternoon.

Conditions throughout qualifying were incredibly difficult for the drivers after a monsoon storm hit the circuit just before qualifying was due to get underway. As a result, the start had to be delayed by 50 minutes, but once the on-track action got underway, Hamilton and Mercedes were dominant in every session.

In Q3, Hamilton managed to post an early lap time that was good enough for pole position after more rain fell and denied Vettel the chance of claiming pole position. Although he believes that he could have gone faster, the pole-sitter is pleased to have done so well given the difficult conditions.

“I’m really happy with our result today,” Hamilton said. “It was a very close session and I’m relieved to come away with pole position as it was pretty tense towards the end. The lap was far from being my optimum: I should have been able to eke out a little more time but thankfully it wasn’t needed.”

The wet weather caught out a number of drivers, including rookie Marcus Ericsson who crashed heavily at the end of Q1. However, Hamilton was delighted to have scored his 33rd career pole position, and praised his team for their hard work across the course of the weekend.

“Conditions were incredibly difficult and it would have been so easy to get it wrong today,” he said. “At times towards the end it was almost impossible to see if anyone was behind me. The team have done a great job once again, we have a great car, and we now have to convert this performance tomorrow.”

Mercedes has dominated proceedings in Malaysia so far this weekend, with one of its cars finishing fastest in every session that has taken place at Sepang International Circuit this weekend. With Nico Rosberg in third place, the team will be hoping to take control of the constructors’ championship with a strong double-score this weekend.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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