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Malaysian Grand Prix
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Qualifying Session Report - Results
In one of the most interesting qualifying sessions in recent times, Michael Schumacher has qualified on Pole (his 6th in a row) ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Behind the pair was not a McLaren but the Williams of Ralf Schumacher who was only 0.3 seconds behind Michael. Mika Hakkinen was 4th ahead of Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya. Villeneuve, Coulthard, Frentzen and Panis make the top 10.
The top 3 were very close throughout the session then there is a gap of 0.8 seconds to Hakkinen. The gap between Hakkinen in 4th and Panis in 10th is under 0.6 seconds!.
The pace of the McLaren's is certainly a
surprise with both Coulthard and Hakkinen struggling throughout the
session. It was only on Hakkinen's final run that he was able to move into
4th. On the other hand Williams are amazing. Surely the Michelin tyres are
helping but it is not the only reason. The car appears to be well suited
to this track. Ralf Schumacher was the only driver to take it to the
Ferrari's while newcomer Juan Pablo Montoya with no experience and no real
practice yesterday managed to be in the top 6.
Outside the top 10, Nick Heidfeld made 11th
with Eddie Irvine was 12th. It must be disappointing for Irvine as he
looked stronger during practice. Jean Alesi is impressive in 13th while
Kimi Raikkonen is in 14th while Luciano Burti is in 15th.
In the battle of the team-mates, there are no real surprises this round. The biggest gap is between Alesi and Mazzacane with 1.76 seconds separating the two. Eddie Irvine is almost 0.9 seconds ahead of his team-mate Luciano Burti while Nick Heidfeld is 0.8 seconds faster than Kimi Raikkonen. Ralf Schumacher is 0.7 seconds ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. The smallest gap is between Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello with less than a tenth of a second between them.
Michael's pole time is more than 2 seconds faster than last year's. This will certainly be a cause of concern to the FIA.
The race tomorrow will certainly be interesting as the tyres will behave differently under race conditions. Additionally, the race is run at 3 PM local time giving more chance for rain.
Note: Enrique Bernoldi's time was deleted after his car was found to have a front wing dimensional infringement. He qualified in 19th place but will now start from the back of the grid.