Lewis Hamilton is convinced his pole lap in Malaysia could have been even faster than the one which saw him beat Nico Rosberg by 0.4s at Sepang.
Hamilton was on top form throughout Saturday, topping FP3 and then going quickest in all three qualifying sessions. It follows recent questions about his form following the Singapore Grand Prix, which saw him finish third and lose the lead of the championship to Mercedes teammate Rosberg.
"Just a huge thank you to the team who have continued through the whole year to improve and coming here this year is definitely the best the car has been here," Hamilton said. "Of course this year the car is obviously better but great work done coming into this weekend, obviously over the last few weeks with Nico's wins but today the car just felt fantastic and I really enjoyed that lap. It could have been faster."
The three-time world champion claimed a similarly dominant pole in Monza two races ago but his good work was undone with a slow start off the line. He is confident Mercedes has a better understanding of those issues in Malaysia.
"The clutch system is the same one that we've had generally all year so there's no changes to it. It's just race on race we're trying to understand it a more and more and trying to predict what it's going to deliver. Nico got a great start, we both generally got good starts in the last race, so we are improving gradually."
Mercedes locked out the front row ahead of the Red Bulls, who Hamilton thinks will pose a big threat on Sunday afternoon.
"I think they're going to be very quick, they've been quick all weekend. I think tomorrow, provided the conditions are like this, the track is better, a lot smoother and seems to work better with the tyres than it has done in previous years.
"It will be a close race for sure because I think they had very good long runs but I think we are looking quite strong also, so hopefully that's the case tomorrow."