Lewis Hamilton says pole in Malaysia is just the easy part

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer

Lewis Hamilton says was the "easy part" of trying to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was also on pole in Australia last weekend, but was beaten by team-mate Jenson Button, who qualified second, as he has at Sepang.

"It's about trying to convert it [pole] into a win. I've got to make a good start and make my car as wide as possible in to Turn One," he said.

Button said: "The important thing is we have the front row. It's a long race."

Button beat Hamilton in Australia last Sunday by making a better start, leading into the first corner and dominating thereafter.

Hamilton was unable to keep pace with his team-mate and eventually finished third behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

He is concerned to stop the same thing happening again.

"I don't know if [pole] is definitely the best place to start - it's a long haul down to Turn One.

"The key is looking after your tyres, hopefully we'll have a car that's in a better position for the race, and I look forward to that."

Button predicted that "anyone in the top four can really have a chance of winning this race".

That appears to rule out world champion Vettel, who has qualified fifth behind Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher and the other Red Bull of Mark Webber.

Red Bull decided to send Vettel out in qualifying on the harder of the two tyre options in the hope that starting on it in the race, when the cars are heavy on fuel, will be a better strategy.

But Button did not sound convinced.

"They were struggling to get the softer of the two tyres working," he said. "They think it's right for them; we don't think it's right for us.

"The guys will keep an eye on him for the race, but he is going to have to run the option [softer] tyre eventually. And we don't know which is one going to be quicker or slower anyway."

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said McLaren would not interfere in the battle between their drivers.

"Lewis and Jenson are free to do what they want to do," he said.

"Lewis will feel he wants to come out of the first corner in the lead after what happened in Australia.

"For us it will be a little bit tense for the first few seconds of the race."

Their biggest opposition at the start could come from Schumacher, who has traditionally made excellent progress off the grid in his Mercedes.

Button said: "The Mercedes is renowned, especially Michael, for getting good starts so it's going to be an interesting Turn One."

Mercedes suffered in Australia with high tyre wear in the race, falling back down the field after qualifying in fourth place with Schumacher.

The seven-time world champion said: "I'm certainly pleased, it's a good achievement for us.

"Much more important is what it means for tomorrow. We've worked thoroughly to have a good race and compromised for qualifying, but we have still done a good job.

"Tyres are the toughest thing. Everyone will be fighting to keep the tyres together. We are ready to fight it."