Malaysian GP 2008 qualifying: Massa on pole but McLarens could face penalty

Ferrari bounced back from the disappointment of Melbourne in the best possible way by locking out the front row of the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

McLaren line up behind them – but an incident involving Nick Heidfeld in qualifying may lead the stewards to penalise Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.

Part one

Almost all the cars hurried out onto the track fearing rain that didn’t arrive. The notable exceptions were the BMWs and Heikki Kovalainen’s McLaren.

Force India once again said they were aiming to reach the final part of qualifying but Giancarlo Fisichella narrowly missed out on making the cut despite being almost a second quicker than team mate Adrian Sutil.

As the final runs began Sebastien Bourdais went off and missed out on making the top 16 but his team mate Sebastian Vettel made it through again.

Kazuki Nakajima was also knocked out – and following his ten-place grid penalty incurred at the Australian Grand Prix he will start dead last.

Bottom six drivers’ times for part one

17. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’36.240
18. Kazuki Nakajima 1’36.388
19. Sebastien Bourdais 1’36.677
20. Takuma Sato 1’37.087
21. Adrian Sutil 1’37.101
22. Anthony Davidson 1’37.481

Part two

With some teams still fearing rain both McLaren drivers queued up at the exit of the pit lane to start their laps as quickly as possible. Heikki Kovalainen beat Lewis Hamilton, and Hamilton was sufficiently worried about his time to set another to avoid the possibility of failing to make the final round.

Kimi Raikkonen was emphatically fastest but Felipe Massa, like Hamilton, needed another lap to guarantee his place in the final session.

The bottom six was particularly close and Nico Rosberg was caught out when he made a mistake on the final sector and ended up 16th. Jenson Button narrowly failed to beat Fernando Alonso to the final place in the top ten.

Bottom six drivers’ times for part two

11. Jenson Button 1’35.208
12. David Coulthard 1’35.408
13. Nelson Piquet 1’35.562
14. Rubens Barrichello 1’35.622
15. Sebastian Vettel 1’35.648
16. Nico Rosberg 1’35.670

Part three

Ferrari maintained their advantage in the final part of qualifying and easily locked out the front row. Massa took pole position but his margin of advantage over his team mate – half a second – suggested he was running a lighter fuel load.

The McLarens struggled – both started the session on hard tyres as they seemed to be struggling with the softer compounds. Only a final effort on softer tyres got Hamilton onto the second row of the grid alongside – and, crucially, behind – Kovalainen. Only two-thousandths of a second separated him from fifth-placed Jarno Trulli.

But after their laps came a development that may have repercussions later: Nick Heidfeld and Fernando Alonso were just starting their final laps as the remaining cars were touring into the pits slowly to save fuel.

The pair dodged through the field but the stewards may take a dim view of what happened – particularly the role of the two McLaren drivers, who were dawdling on the racing line on the approach to turn three.

Top ten drivers’ times for part three

1. Felipe Massa 1’35.748
2. Kimi Raikkonen 1’36.230
3. Heikki Kovalainen 1’36.613
4. Lewis Hamilton 1’36.709
5. Jarno Trulli 1’36.711
6. Robert Kubica 1’36.727
7. Nick Heidfeld 1’36.753
8. Mark Webber 1’37.009
9. Fernando Alonso 1’38.450
10. Timo Glock 1’39.656

Review the 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying session as it happened on the F1Fanatic live blog

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7 comments on Malaysian GP 2008 qualifying: Massa on pole but McLarens could face penalty

  1. So, now we have to wait for two things: firstly, will the McLarens (or anyone else for that matter) be penalised for impeding the progress of Heidfeld (and, it now seems, Alonso) on their final, quickest laps?  Secondly, will it rain tomorrow? There are still a number of outside factors that could yet influence the pattern of tomorrow’s race…

    I was impressed with Massa’s strong fight-back from his dismal Melbourne weekend today and, almost unnoticed in the middle of everything else, by Trulli’s stellar performance in the Toyota.  Could it be that removal of Ralf Schumacher from the other cockpit has lifted a cloud from over that team in more ways than one?  Trulli simply seems more confident and more positive this season than I remember for some time.  Is he revelling in finally being the point-man for the team?  It will be interesting to see how his race progresses tomorrow and how his season develops. 

    The pack is separated by tiny margins – 1.2 seconds covered sixteen cars in Q2 – which indicates that, especially for the midfield teams, this season is going to be intensely competitive.

    I can’t wait for tomorrow…

  2. nick c said on 22nd March 2008, 12:13

    I think Massa done brilliantly today and i would bet alot of money on him winning tomorow.  dont think the mclarens have got any chance of winning tomorow and think it would be interesting if they were further down the grid even though i am a big mclaren and hamilton fan.

  3. sChUmAcHeRtHeGrEaTeStEvEr said on 22nd March 2008, 12:45

    Hamilton and Kovalaenin have been given 5 place penalties for blocking Heidfeld thats means Jarno Trulli will start from 3rd!

  4. their may be rain tomorrow !!!
    team should be prepared for it..Massa was brilliant today,Ferrari know how to bounce back and that’s what we saw today

  5. Kimi’s Q2 time was a track record, faster than Montoya back in the v10 days….that’s impressive.Hamilton must have been on the radio cursing Dennis for giving Heikki a better car?  :)

  6. Matt said on 22nd March 2008, 17:53

    I am a huge Mclaren fan but i am also like Renault but aside from that. why should they be punished for " blocking" The BMW driver and Renault on their fastest time.

  7. Mamzee said on 22nd March 2008, 19:30

    Seems we will be having a good race tomorrow be it a dry race or a wet race. Some cars (in particular Ferrari) still have to prove themselves in reliabilty, let’s wait and see.

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