The Malaysian Grand Prix weekend brings what many consider the real start to the F1 season, as Melbourne is a bit of an outlier because of the safety cars that it generates. However, with new street circuits at Valencia and Singapore, there seem to be less of these pure tracks left on the calendar. And now with the steward interactions of Australia behind us (maybe for Hamilton & McLaren) we can get on to the business of seeing the true pace of these 2009 specification cars.
As with Melbourne, the cars are lapping much quicker than 2008. However, with Monsoon rains possible tomorrow, a return to last years lap speeds during the race may be out of the question. But for qualifying, the track was predicted to be dry at the end of the session.
Q1 showed some amazing track speeds, but also some very surprising results. Felipe Massa posted some quick times early in the session and was found in the pits as Q1 came to a close, when the lap times started to drop, knocking him out in Q1. Felipe admitted to Speed TV’s Peter Windsor that Ferrari had no idea that the lap times would drop so significantly and that they thought they were comfortably in to Q2 with their earlier times. Looks like Ferrari aren’t the only masters of sandbagging.
Q1 also showed quick times for Brawn GP, Toyota, Red Bull and even a 5th place for Heikki Kovalainen. With Sebastian Bourdais just barely surviving on to Q2, while his teammate Sebastian Buemi suffered an off on his quick lap at the end of qualifying, relegating him to the back of the grid.
Again this weekend, the historic order of qualifications was upset once again as both McLaren’s were bumped out of Q2, with the new guard of quick teams Brawn, Toyota and Red Bull all making it comfortably into the pole session where they vied for the top spot. At the end of the session, Jenson Button was standing on pole, followed by Jarno Trulli and Sebastian Vettel.
Full results below. Keep in mind that Rubens Barichello will be dropped 5 spots for changing his gearbox yesterday and Sebastian Vettel will be dropped 10 spots for his altercation with Kubica in the closing stages of Melbourne.
|3||Sebastion Vettel *||Red Bull||01:35.518|
|4||Rubens Barrichello **||Brawn||01:35.651|
|7||Mark Webber||Red Bull||01:35.797|
|15||Sebastian Bourdais||Torro Roso||01:35.431|
|18||Giancalro Fisichella||Force India||01:35.908|
|19||Adrian Sutil||Force India||01:35.951|
|20||Sebastian Buemi||Torro Roso||01:36.107|