MARCH 20, 2005
MALAYSIAN GP - SUNDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION 2 REPORT
Alonso confirms pole
Fernando Alonso confirmed his pole position in final qualifying on Sunday morning in Sepang, setting the best lap of the morning session, two-tenths faster than Jarno Trulli's Toyota. Trulli's time means that he maintains his second position on the grid and there was much speculation as to whether or not the Toyota might be running lighter than the opposition.
Giancarlo Fisichella retained third place on the grid but was four-tenths slower than Trulli's lap which would seem to suggest that the Roman was running more fuel than his rivals.
"The first corner will be very important," said Fisichella. "I would like to keep my position and if I can overtake Jarno. I have the right strategy for the race. The car was understeering a bit today but that is good for the race because usually there is a lot of oversteer towards the end of the race."
Mark Webber was fourth fastest in the session in his Williams-BMW and leap-frogged the Australian to fourth on the grid, ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. Obviously the fuel loads are not known but with overtaking difficult Webber is well-placed to bid for the team's first podium of the year.
Ralf Schumacher put his Toyota fifth on the grid but made an obvious mistake in the first corner and so is probably able to lap at the same sort of pace as Trulli, even if his qualifying lap was seven-tenths slower.
Kimi Raikkonen dropped from fourth overnight to sixth on the grid, with a time that was only 10th quickest in the morning session. The implication of this was that the Finn is probably running a heavy fuel load. McLaren team mate Juan Pablo Montoya was also slower than expected and dropped from seventh overnight to 11th on the grid with the 11th fastest time of the morning session.
The big winners on Saturday morning were the two Red Bulls with Christian Klien moving up from 10th to seventh with the fifth fastest time of the session. He was a few hundredths ahead of David Coulthard and DC also moved up from 11th overnight to eighth on the grid. This was at the expense of Montoya, Nick Heidfeld and Jenson Button. Heidfeld dropped from eighth to 10th with a lap which was seven-tenths slower than that of Webber after going wide in the middle sector of the lap.
Button stayed ninth on the grid but his time was eighth quickest in the morning session. Anthony Davidson was 15th and maintained that position with a lap that was eight-tenths slower than Button.
Ferrari remained in trouble (or at least appeared to be) with Michael Schumacher dropping from 12th to 13th as Rubens Barrichello jumped from 14th to 12th. His lap was two-tenths slower than Barrichello.
However Fisichella sounded a warning.
"The Ferraris are going to try a very long first stint," he said. "|I think they will be there at the end of the race."
The whispers in the paddock that the Bridgetsone tyres are not able to last more than 20 laps suggest that this might not be the case, but no-one is quite sure until the race itself.
The Sauber team line up 14th and 16th on the grid with Felipe Massa going from 13th to 14th but still lapping four-tenths quicker than Villeneuve, who did not improve his position.
Down at the back the places remained the same with the back two rows featuring Narain Karthikeyan, Tiago Monteiro, the Indian three-tenths faster than the Portuguese driver in the final session. At the back were the two Minardis with Patrick Friesacher ahead of Christijan Albers.
The session was very difficult to follow, as happened in Australia, but there was a modicum of excitement in the final minutes as Trulli took on the Renaults. It remains to be seen whether this format is the best for the sport but at the moment although there is lot of grouching the paddock, there is no indication that change is afoot.
Hopefully the race will provide a good spectacle although the Malaysian crowd was minimal.
SUNDAY PRESS CONFERENCE
RACE INCIDENTS FROM SEPANG
SUNDAY TEAM QUOTES
QUALIFYING 2 REPORT - ALONSO CONFIRMS POLE
TEAMS TO PUBLISH NEW LETTER TO FERRARI
QUALIFYING 2 RESULTS
A TEAM MEETING THIS MORNING
SCHUMACHER AND HIS PEERS
VERSTAPPEN TO TEST CHAMP CAR