Kuala Lumpur: Formula one World championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who struggled to be on par with the Ferrari's during the practice session, claimed the pole position in the Malaysia Grand Prix on Saturday, while his major rival Sebastian Vettel got eliminated from the qualifying session due to an engine problem.

Hamilton delivered a lap time of one minute 30.076 seconds, beating Kimi Raikkonen to the second. Max Verstappen, who is celebrating his 20th birthday on Saturday, came in third, reports Xinhua news agency.

The 2016 Malaysia Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo managed to get into fourth with Valtteri Bottas only fifth.

The qualifying results marked a turnaround for Hamilton, who is eager to expand his advantage over Vettel after his 28 points lead in Singapore. Hamilton's mighty lap not only shocked his rivals, but also himself. "I did the last lap very well, but I don't know where it came from to be honest," said Hamilton at the post-qualifying press conference.

But Hamilton also thanked his team mechanics, who strived to find out the problems after the practice sessions. According to Hamilton, the team even used two different set of aerodynamic packages to test the car.

Vettel encountered an engine problem before the ending of the third practice session, and although it was replaced later, he still complained to have a power problem after the qualifying session started.

Both the two drivers of Force India made to the top ten, with Esteban Ocon at sixth and Sergio Perez at ninth. Stoffel Vandoorne from McLaren went ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso, who came in 10th though with a surprisingly good performance during practices.