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Malaysia thriller in prospect as big names misjudge Qualifying
Malaysia thriller in prospect as big names misjudge Qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Apr 2010   |  10:33 am GMT  |  165 comments

Ferrari and McLaren were left with egg on their faces after totally misjudging the weather conditions in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Their four drivers will start from the back of the grid after their teams held them back at the start of a rain soaked first part of qualifying.

They presented an open goal to their title rivals Red Bull and Mercedes, who took full advantage.

Mark Webber was the only driver to gamble on intermediate tyres in the final session and took pole by a big margin, with team mate Vettel third. Nico Rosberg did a great job to take second, his first front row start and a full second ahead of his rain master team mate Schumacher who starts 8th.

The session was full of drama. The track was damp at the start of Q1, but there was more rainfall during the session. So it was important to be out on track at the right time.

While Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel got on with it early on, both Ferrari drivers, both McLarens and Mercedes stayed in the garage. Unfortunately for them the track was its fastest in the first 10 minutes and the rain began falling more heavily as those cars went out on track.

Button and Schumacher were the first of those cars on track and just managed to get in, but Button subsequently aquaplaned off the track having set 13th fastest time at that point, meanwhile Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were forced to go for full wet tyres in an attempt to get into the game. They failed, Alonso having a lurid triple spin.

It was extraordinary that the leading teams should have misread the weather situation so badly, especially as the rain had been falling pretty consistently at that time of day all week.

“We got it wrong, we thought that first rainstorm was it, ” said Button. “I aquaplaned off and got stuck in the gravel. Very disappointing, strange session with both Ferraris and both McLarens off. I’m in front of three of my championship rivals, but behind others.”

The top teams’ misfortunes were good news for Virgin Racing and Lotus, who both got a car through to Q2. Kovalainen qualified 15th, with Glock 16th.

The second session challenged the drivers’ and teams’ tactical acumen. It started on a damp track but with rain forecast five minutes in. Most runners took a second set of intermediates, Red Bull went for full wets.

The Renault was handy in these conditions, with Kubica fastest in Q1 and second in Q2 as was Adrian Sutil in the Force India. Sebastian Vettel judged it perfectly and was fastest in Q2. The rain held off until two minutes before the end and the track was at its fastest in the few minutes before that. It was a question of being out there on the intermediate tyres with fuel in the car at the right moment.

Both Williams drivers made it through to the top ten shootout as did both Force India cars.

The decisive final part of qualifying was held in traditional Malaysian monsoon conditions. Robert Kubica cheekily drove around the queue of cars in the pitlane to get out on track first. But the session was stopped after three minutes before any of the cars had managed a lap.

At the restart, with seven minutes left on the clock, most drivers went for full wet tyres, Webber went for the intermediate. Initially it looked like the wrong choice, but on his second flying lap he took provisional pole and then found another 1.1 secs on his third lap.

Team principal Christian Horner confirmed that the decision to take the inters was Webber’s own.

Adrian Sutil qualified fourth and Nico Hulkenberg an impressive fifth.

1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:51.886 1:48.210 1:49.327
2. Rosberg Mercedes 1:52.560 1:47.417 1:50.673
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:47.632 1:46.828 1:50.789
4. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:49.479 1:47.085 1:50.914
5. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:49.664 1:47.346 1:51.001
6. Kubica Renault 1:46.283 1:46.951 1:51.051
7. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:50.301 1:48.371 1:51.511
8. Schumacher Mercedes 1:52.239 1:48.400 1:51.717
9. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.467 1:47.792 1:51.767
10. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:49.922 1:48.238 1:52.254
11. Petrov Renault 1:47.952 1:48.760
12. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:47.153 1:48.771
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.945 1:49.207
14. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.655 1:49.464
15. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:52.875 1:52.270
16. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:52.398 1:52.520
17. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:52.211
18. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:52.884
19. Alonso Ferrari 1:53.044
20. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:53.050
21. Massa Ferrari 1:53.283
22. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:56.299
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:57.269
24. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:59.977

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James I think it is a little disappointing the media are placing all of the blame on the teams. Yes, Ferrari and McLaren probably should have set banker laps, but then again other drivers used the same strategy and made it through to Q2 (Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber were the last to leave the pits and set their times as the McLarens were spinning off and Alonso was unable to get through).


Great point Nico. Great point. Everyone read Nico’s comment. It’s spot on. I repeat, it’s spot on.


It was very funny what Nico Rosberg and Seb Vettel talked about after the race. It seems that Nico had a cold and “Durchfall”…. A bowel problem I will only say. LOL Go Seb!! Go Nico!!


Sitting here waiting for the race to being. Can’t wait to see the first lap.

With the stalled rear wing I’d expect the McLarens to make some progress (famous last words…).

Yet again, the rain shakes things up and makes the big boys work for a living. Great to see some big names with egg on their faces and having to push to unpick the mess.



In the Bahrain aftermath I’d suggested that formally reversing the grid for the start of the GP would be a great way to spice up F1, so today I should be happy?

Far from it.

Once again McLaren have left me feeling cheated. Again today the team have made the same level of fundamental mistake they made in Monza 08 and China 07 (albeit in the race that time). Do the established teams need to hire some sort of arbiters of common sense (obviously I’d consider myself for the role)?

Irrespective of what the technology’s telling Ferrari and McLaren, all they need to do is beat the back markers in Q1 so surely it would be sensible policy to get a banker in at the start of a qualy session and worry about setting a competitive time later.

Val from Montreal

Schumacher is going to finish on the podium for sure !


Sod the race I want to see if jordans leaky armpits will be on show again 🙂 red bull 1-2 me thinks


Great job by Mark to grab pole. I predict he will be 4th by the first corner.


The irony in the situation is that Ferrari was making fun of the new, inexperienced teams, even insulting them before the season started. Yet, they got it right and Ferrari/McLaren got egg on their face 🙂

All the expensive computer simulations and millions spent on equipment and they still don’t know that in changeable weather they need to go out and be out there to exploit the conditions as they unfold. Staying in the garage means doing nothing while most of the grid is out there trying to set times.

So much for the “young and inexperienced” Domenicali. An apology for Ferrari’s remarks against the new teams should be coming right up!! Don’t hold your breath though……….


James, I have a question. You know in one of the post you talked about Ferrari’s wheel thing and McLaren’s F-duct and you said rivals cant copy it because they cant make changes to the chassis, but how come Williams implemented the F-duct in a very similar position like the McLaren’s?? and I’m guessing it effected their pace in the quali.


I didn’t say they couldn’t copy the wing, only that they cannot copt the inlet hole in the chassis, which is on the optimum place.


Any idea how Sauber and Williams have implemented this system?


From the big names that start form the back I predict Alonso will finish highest, then Hamilton maybe, Button and Massa.

Vettel to win from Rosberg and Kubica.

Have a good Easter everybody.


Can’t wait for the race, for the second weekend in a row I’m staying up all night with my mates. Bit longer to wait but it’ll be worth it. I just can’t see both Mclarens and both Ferraris making it through the first lap…


I do not quite understand why some people will be upset about the red flag. I prefer a race like last year before seeing Bahrain 2010.

I want drama, rain, overtaking, leaders from the back… otherwise, honestly, I do something else like playing golf. Almost for sure I skip Hungary, Valencia and Barcelona.


Totally agreed Frank. Otherwise I’ll have to go & play golf with you too. Even though I love playing golf I’d still rather watch F1 that’s full of drama & twists


Eddie Jordan giving it large today saying both McLaren and Ferrari were arrogant, this from a failed team owner who spent money on a nose job and cleaning his boat, didnt pay HHF is retainer and lied in the high court about vodafone, you Mr Jordan are the arrogant one.


Yeah, I totally agree, Darren, and the way he tries to assert his “wisdom” on us is a bit ott.



force india for the win today and Button for a a 3rd place finish


I think Schumacher is quite fast, at this moment faster than Rosberg already.

It just doesn’t show in the final results yet, down to one nagging annoyance after the other. Bahrain was the only race where conditions remained constant for both drivers, the other two races till now just had TOO MANY variables that affected the final outcome.

Think about this, – four months ago Schumacher raced in some kart race in Las Vegas and finished 7th. The drivers who finished 1st till 6th were,

Bas Lammers

Norman Nato

Jeremy Iglesias

Arnuad Kozlinski

Marco Ardigo

Tony Lavanant

My challenge is, put any of these drivers in an F1 car right now. I would love to see how they perform!

I don’t believe that Schumacher has anything to lose in this comeback. In fact, it just goes on to highlight how immensely superb he was when he was in his prime, that even now after having switched off for so many years he’s still ONLY one-tenth slower than Rosberg, probably in ‘human’ sense which probably means just a little less urge to throw the car around like a mad man through a corner compared to before.

But doesn’t mean that he can’t do it, sure he can and will do (in due time). I just don’t believe that he’s gonna do it just for the sheer excitement of the fans, nor just in order to make the front page headline and awe the world. He’s smarter than that, just taking his sweet own time. Slow, steady and mature.

And it makes sense, whatever he’s doing. Imagine this, he had the banker lap from Q2 which really saved his life as in still hung him on to P10. So why wouldn’t he be enthusiastic to do another banker early for Q3? He did push hard on lap one, in fact he was so fast that he caught up Kubica and got stuck behind him. In the end his lap one lap-time only mirrored that of Kubica.

He hasn’t even made even one single driver-error type mistake on track ever since his return. Alonso, Massa, Button, Rosberg have all spun or gone off track in miserable conditions but this old guy is keeping still it clean. One might argue that the old guy isn’t pushing hard enough, true. But wouldn’t you normally expect an old guy to make so much more mistakes when performing at this level in this young man’s sport?


Spot on Alias. Those karting drivers will be lapped in Q1 most likely. I say give any of these young drivers 3 years gap with 41 year body. Plus a car that’s not even the fastest. Then we will find those critcs on the same armchairs without any legs. People seem to find nothing better to talk or do about. F1 had its worst time in last 3 years. Now thanks to Schumacher’s return those things are all forgotten as well as the the popularity is soring more than ever before. No idea how people are keen to overlook the good things so easily


I’m inclined to agree with you, AliasJ. There are a lot of armchair critics around.


Steve Greenwood

absolutely agree, after 3 yrs out of the car he’s doing a fantastic job. In my opinion, if he didn’t believe he was able to be competitive then he wouldn’t have made a comeback, he’s that hard on himself. He might have been out of the car for 3 yrs but he’s doing a far better job than Fisi, Badoer or Gene.


Absurd that a F1 Race can be determined by guessing what the weather is going to do.Why not use a length of string or a pack of cards! It would probably be cheaper


i wonder if ferrari and mclaren share some fancy approach to a weather prediction system, while everyone else stuck their head out of the garage.


I am under the impression that all the teams get their weather from Météo-France, although perhaps that’s only European weather…


Why is everyone bagging Schumi for? When he moved to Ferrari in ’96 did he dominate straight away? No. It took a few years of hard work to get everything working just how he wanted and then he cake walked it. Now he is at a new team with new regulations and because he hasn’t won everybody seems to think he is past it. There is the amount of testing allowed these days that there was back in his Ferrari days. Am I a Schumi fan? No. Kimi’s my man. But we shouldn’t hang him out to dry over two races and three qualifying sessions (especially yesterdays lottery).


Some people have nothing better to do mate. If Schumi came back & won races straight away & lead the championship some people will still find something wrong or boring about it. If he didn’t win 7 WDC, then people would’ve been offering him Nobel prize for his great work so far this season. The season is still very long. Didn’t we see him coming back to championship with 26 points adrift in 06? Even if he doesn’t win any races this season, we must find a way to thank him for lifting F1 during such a tough time. Over the past few years the sport was hurt big time. Now most people seem to have forgotten all of those stuff thanks to Schumacher’s return. Don’t forget he is the biggest sporting personality in terms of donation & dedication as far as wellfare work goes. This guy donated more money than any other sporting personality in the history for wellfare work thorugh UN. It’s amazing that people don’t even mention those things. Well I’m not a Schumi fan either, but the out cry about his results so far this season is way over the top


“isn’t the amount of testing…”

David Jerromes

Great qualifying, looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow.

Really want to see Schumi shine in the race, especially if its wet which looks a high probability.

Congrats to Nico, good job!

Anyone’s race tomorrow by the look of it; will Red Bull last the race or need wings to make the finish line?


listens guys i really like the faith and everything about ms but you need to get real his done finitto over,good tv rating but that’s it, so please dont go to the bookies yet, but u can still put something on rosberg, and that is the real deal for now.


Great qualifying, it should make for a great race. Very pleased for force india and williams, hope they can be in the hunt for a podium.


This remind me of Japan 05,I think that was the year when Alosno and kimi started from the back and the race was great,a lot of overtakes.

I just hope there will be no accident on the first couple of corners.


Oh,in remembrance of last year: besides the bubbly maybe the winners can sport a cone of vanilla ice cream as well in honour of the absent Kimi??


Ha! Maybe they could enjoy icecream in a white visor?


Good idea, Enrico.



That is quite funny!.

I can imagine everybody having an ice cream before the race starts (except the Ferrari people). That will be a nice touch.


I really cannot understand RBR letting Webber go out on intermediates? All the major competition is on the back row and all you are doing is risking starting from 10th. The gain to loss ratio just does not factor.


In the words of one and only Del Boy of Peckham:

He who dares, wins!

That’s why. 🙂


And about the same level of common sense as Del boy. You have the best car on the grid, everyone is on wets and you want to risk it all by going with inters, totally dumb. The case with Button was completely different, he had nothing to lose. Even if inters were better, you have by far the best car and all you need to do is not out smart yourself.


They don’t have to start on the tyres they qualified on because it was officially wet. So if it’s dry tomorrow, they can pick their dry tyres to start on.


I think Frankie was more concerned with the qualifying position. Webber on wets would probably have qualified top-3 anyway – why risk starting 10th?


It was his call. Mark is way back in the championship. Big gamble like this is the only way to close the gap with the leaders. Jenson’s gamble paid off here in Melbourne. Now it paid off for Mark. Good on him & his engineer for judging the track perfectly. Even though it was raining like crazy the track was still warmer than Melbourne. It was still a little humid out there. I have been to Malaysia several times & trust me even the rain is pretty warm there. The grip level & tyre tempareture should be pretty good in inter even if it is like a ocean out there. Even as a Ferrari fan I’m saying it is Ferrari & McLaren’s fault their genius people in massive payroll got it wrong. They got what they deserve for making that kind of calls. Simple as that


of course, if the track is flooding Sunday Webber will not survive the first lap.

So farthis year we’ve had two smartish calls on tyre changes: from Button and from Webber. None at all from Schumacher and Ross, which is a little surprising… We wait in hope?


“of course, if the track is flooding Sunday Webber will not survive the first lap”.


They can start the race on any tyres they like tomorrow.

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