Malaysian GP Wrap-Up
By: Jeremy McMullen
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By: Jeremy McMullen
| Reverse psychology can work! After the sheer dominant display Raikkonen put together in his first race with Ferrari it seemed this year's F1 season was a virtual lock for Ferrari and either Raikkonen or Massa. In fact, prior to the Malaysian grand prix, Fernando Alonso appeared to all but concede victory to the prancing horse team. Or was that a ploy? The Malaysian GP proved to be another demonstration in dominance. All of the drama ended up being behind the race winner, but the winner wasn't the driver everyone unanimously expected.
The new qualifying set-up got the blood flowing early on. Just as in the race, there have to be winners and there have to be losers in qualifying. The new qualifying system has proven to push every team to put forward their best. As a result, should there be a team that is struggling there will be some major surprises. So far this year it seems the team being roasted consistently is Honda. It is like pointing out to the world another person's flaws. Honda's flaws are out there for the world to see and it's rather embarrassing.
Barrichello failed to make it to the second round of qualifying. Button barely faired better and still was unable to out-qualify one of the B-team Super Aguri Honda cars. The trend of customer cars out-qualifying works teams also continued at the Malaysian GP as neither of the two Renault drivers Fisichella or Kovalainen could out-duel their engine customers Red Bull. Neither of the Renault drivers made it into the final round of qualifying. Red Bull, however, was able to at least have Mark Webber make it into the top ten. While the two Toyota team cars faired well, with both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher starting out in the top ten, they were still out-done by the Toyota powered Williams car driven by Nico Rosberg who continues to impress with his speed.
The real drama of qualifying was the fight for the first four spots. At the end of the third and final round of qualifying there was a four car procession of potential pole winners. Raikkonen was the first in line to finish in the third round and was the first to sit on the provisional pole. Alonso was the second to finish and was the second to take over the top spot. Hamilton finished the qualifying session as the third car home after Raikkonen and Alonso but couldn't quite keep the same pace. Hamilton would eventually settle starting 4th. But Felipe Massa, the last person in the four car train, ended up raising the bar even higher and took the pole. The start of the race was a poor one for Massa; however, as Alonso took over the lead going into the first turn. In Massa's bid to keep his teammate behind him he left the door open for Lewis Hamilton who subsequently made his way past into second through the turn one and two complex. The rest of the first lap was uneventful for the most part with the exception of Adrian Sutil in his Spyker flying off the track at turn three, and thus ending his day after about 30 seconds.