With a track temperature of 44C, the first qualifying session of the Malaysian Grand Prix got under way in humid conditions. After setting the fastest time in free practice this morning, McLaren's David Coulthard was the first man out, clocking a...
With a track temperature of 44C, the first qualifying session of the Malaysian Grand Prix got under way in humid conditions. After setting the fastest time in free practice this morning, McLaren's David Coulthard was the first man out, clocking a 1:36.297 with his flying lap. Juan Pablo Montoya followed for Williams, in order from the results of the Australian GP, and bettered Coulthard with 1:35.939.
Raikkonen locked up into turn one but was fastest in the second sector, although just off the pace of Montoya and went second quickest. Michael Schumacher was fourth out on track and took provisional pole with a 1:34.980, nearly a second faster than Montoya.
Jarno Trulli was next to set a time, 0.4 down after the first sector and losing more over the lap to go fifth quickest, 1.32 slower than Schumacher. Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen had a good first sector but lost out heavily in the second -- sixth, three tenths off Trulli. Fernando Alonso had a slow start and despite picking up well stayed seventh for Renault.
Ralf Schumacher was also slow to start, the car looking twitchy, and couldn't better Alonso, remaining behind the young Spaniard in eighth. Jacques Villeneuve was the first BAR out, the times by then nearly a second down on the front runners in the first sector. The Canadian stayed ninth after locking up into turn 14, two and a half seconds slower than Michael.
Team mate Jenson Button set a much more reasonable time, on a par with Trulli initially, and jumped up to seventh quickest. Jos Verstappen was the first of the Minardis, nearly four seconds off pole to go eleventh, and Giancarlo Fisichella, the first of the Jordans, improved on his running order to set the ninth fastest time in front of Ralf.
Antonio Pizzonia was next in line for Jaguar but had some problem that prevented him leaving the pits and will now start first in tomorrow's qualifying, after failing to set a time today. Toyota's Olivier Panis took eleventh and Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was two tenths up on team mate Frentzen in the first sector. He continued well, a very good lap to put him sixth in front of Frentzen.
Justin Wilson, who was running as high as ninth in Melbourne at one point -- no mean feat in a Minardi -- lost time through turns five and six and went fifteenth behind team mate Verstappen. Mark Webber had very little running in practice and only managed fourteenth for Jaguar, but better than Pizzonia not setting a time at all. The miniscule Cristiano da Matta put in a great lap in the Toyota to go tenth, bettering team mate Panis in thirteenth.
The final two were Jordan's Ralph Firman, who is familiar with Sepang from his Formula Nippon days, but couldn't do better than sixteenth, and Rubens Barrichello. Rubens bunged his Ferrari in the wall on the sixth lap in Melbourne, hence starting last today, and unsurprisingly managed second fastest behind Michael.
No remarkable performances in Friday qualifying but good for Sauber, both in the top ten, and Renault, and Button outqualifying Villeneuve this session by six places. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Montoya, Raikkonen, Coulthard, Trulli, Heidfeld, Frentzen.