Hamilton delighted with 'surprise' pole as Vettel nightmare continues

Updated: 

Lewis Hamilton was surprised to find himself on pole position in Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday, after engine problems prevented title rival Sebastian Vettel from setting a time.

The German will start from the back of the grid in Sepang having encountered the issue in Q1, the incident coming on the back of a race-ending first-lap crash in Singapore last time out.

Vettel trails Hamilton by 28 points in the standings and this latest setback threatens to prove fatal to his chances of claiming a fifth world crown.

Hamilton posted a time of one minute and 30.076 seconds to take pole ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen, with Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas in fourth and fifth respectively.

"We had no idea how it was going to go today," said Hamilton, whose only previous win in Malaysia came in 2014.

"I'm sorry for what happened to Sebastian because obviously he was very quick through practice but somehow we turned it round.

"It's a real surprise to be up here with these guys, but I'm really grateful."