Malaysia GP: Lewis Hamilton beats Nico Rosberg to pole

    Lewis Hamilton gestures after taking pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    Story highlights

    • Lewis Hamilton fastest in qualifying for Malaysia GP
    • Nico Rosberg makes it Mercedes one-two on grid
    • Hamilton throws down gauntlet to Rosberg

    (CNN)Lewis Hamilton will start the Malaysia Grand Prix on pole after outpacing teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg in qualifying at the Sepang International Circuit.

    Rosberg looked like he could have been closing in on Hamilton's time of one minute 32.850 seconds on his last lap of the day but an error on the final corner ensured he lost vital tenths and could only finish second fastest 0.414 seconds back.
      The Mercedes one-two, a familiar sight in recent years, means Hamilton will start on the front row of an F1 grid for the 100th time in his career. Only Michael Schumacher (with 116) has more career front rows than the 31-year-old Hamilton.
      Red Bull's Max Verstappen clocked the third fastest time ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo with the Ferrari's of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen fifth and sixth respectively.
      "I would have come close but made a mistake at the last corner," Rosberg told reporters after the session. "Second place doesn't mean victory is not possible, we have seen that many times. I am still optimistic for tomorrow."
      After watching Rosberg win the last three races on the trot, Hamilton appeared eager to lay down a psychological marker by coldly stating that he felt he could have gone faster Saturday.
      The British driver also added that his team had improved in recent weeks to the extent that he felt Saturday was "the best the car has been this year."
      Further back, there were strong performances from the Force India's of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg to claim seventh and eighth place on the starting grid followed by McLaren's Jenson Button who will be taking part in his 300th F1 race Sunday.
      Felipe Massa in the Williams closes out the top 10 positions on the grid.
      Mercedes could clinch the constructors championship should results go their way Sunday but the drivers' title is still very much up for grabs with six races of the F1 season to go.
      Rosberg leads Hamilton in the standings by just eight points but even a second placed finish Sunday could see that lead diminished to just one point should his teammate win the race.