Lewis Hamilton proud to match Jim Clark pole record

Lewis Hamilton said he was "proud" to equal Jim Clark's record for most pole positions by a British driver.

The Mercedes driver beat Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel at the Malaysian GP to take the 33rd pole of his career.

Hamilton said: "Very, very proud to be representing the UK and to be among the names like Nigel Mansell, James Hunt and Jim Clark. It's a real honour.

Classy Clark

Jim Clark

Jim Clark's tally of 25 victories was a record at the time. It has since been surpassed by several other drivers, but none in so few races. Clark's came in just 72 starts, a win ratio surpassed only by Alberto Ascari and Juan Manuel Fangio.

"When they mentioned it, I couldn't believe it. I'd never have dreamed I would have the amount of poles I have."

Jim Clark is widely regarded as one of the best Formula 1 drivers of all time. The Scot tragically lost his life following a crash at Hockenheim in 1968. He won two F1 World Championships.

Hamilton said his focus for Sunday's race was to score as many points as possible.

The 28-year-old retired from the season-opening race in Australia two weeks ago, which was won by team-mate Nico Rosberg, who starts third in Malaysia.

Hamilton said: "For myself and for the team the priority is to try to bag as many points, collectively, me and Nico.

"I think we have a great opportunity, we've got a great car and the team's just performing fantastically right now, so fingers crossed we both see our way through to the finish line."

Hamilton, who beat Vettel by just 0.055 seconds with a time set on his very first lap of the 12-minute session, said the wet conditions in qualifying had been especially demanding for the drivers.

"It was just incredible," Hamilton said, "firstly how much, it rained before qualifying and then during the session it was very, very tricky out there I think for everyone.

"Particularly at the end it was almost impossible to see anything.

"During my last lap I just couldn't see a thing behind [Force India's Nico] Hulkenberg. I couldn't see where the track went, didn't know where the corners were, when to brake.

Jim Clark

F1's greatest drivers - Number 3: Jim Clark

"To start the lap I couldn't see where Fernando [Alonso's Ferrari] was behind me, so it was impossible to try to get a gap, so I had to bail out.

"These guys [Vettel and Red Bull Racing] are definitely a little bit too close, so happy to be here."

Vettel said: "Q3 was not perfect; I would have loved to have a second go.

"My first attempt, I felt there was a little bit of time to gain here and there, so obviously very, very close; too close because definitely the margin was possible to go that much faster.

"But equally I think if Lewis had another chance he would have improved as well. Would, could, should - at the end of the day it's good to be on the front row."