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Malaysian Grand Prix
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Qualifying Session Report - Results
Michael Schumacher grabs his first pole of the season (and his 4th in a row at Sepang) ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya and Rubens Barrichello. Ralf Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard make the top 6.
Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya were in a class of
their own today. Juan Pablo was the only driver to give a real threat to
Michael Schumacher. Both their team-mates were over half a second off the
pace. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so), McLaren never came into the fight as
they appeared settled for 5th and 6th positions with both Raikkonen and
Coulthard over 1.2 seconds off the pace.
The 'best of the rest' position went to Nick Heidfeld in the
Sauber and his only real competitor was surprisingly Jenson Button who managed
to beat his team-mate Jarno Trulli decisively here by setting a time almost
0.7 seconds faster.
The session started as usual with the 2 Minardis on the
track then a number of midfielders got on the track. 20 minutes into the
session and Kimi Raikkonen takes provisional pole. Coulthard then takes it
momentarily but Montoya takes it away.
A number of drivers spun, most recovered however Felipe
Massa had to run for the spare. Olivier Panis had what it seemed to be a
gearbox problem and had to switch to the spare car.
In the battle of the team-mates, Allan McNish had the worst
performance compared to his team-mate ending 1.265 seconds behind. Felipe
Massa was 0.858 seconds behind Nick Heidfeld and Eddie Irvine was a massive
0.847 seconds behind Pedro de la Rosa.
The top 4 are separated by under a second, the top 8 by 2 seconds and the top 15 by 3 seconds.
The midfield is very tight with just over a second separating Nick Heidfeld in 7th and Pedro de la Rosa in 17th.
The tyre war is certainly interesting. Michelin may have an advantage in hot conditions but it doesn't seem to be a significant one.
On this track, it looks as if Williams have closed the gap to Ferrari while McLaren have settled for 3rd. Sauber and Renault look like fighting out for 4th while Jordan and BAR look like being caught up by Toyota and Arrows while Jaguar are struggling just ahead of Minardi.
The race tomorrow will be interesting. The Williams seem to have superb launch control but their tyres may not be running in ideal conditions at the start of the race. We also need to watch out for Ralf and Rubens!
Race starts at 3:00 PM local time.