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Qualifying analysis - it's Brawn v Toyota, as Ferrari challenge fades 04 Apr 2009

Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001 celebrates his pole position in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 4 April 2009 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 4 April 2009 Qualifying parc ferme (L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, third (Before grid penalty); Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix, pole position; Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota, second.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 4 April 2009 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari talks with Rob Smedley (GBR) Ferrari Race Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 4 April 2009 Williams FW31 front wing detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 4 April 2009

In the end it all boiled down to a scrap between Jenson Button and Brawn, and Jarno Trulli and Toyota for pole position in Sepang on Saturday, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel keeping them honest. The big surprise, however, was the relative lack of pace of Ferrari, even with their KERS on the long straights, and Felipe Massa failing to get through Q1. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed…

Brawn GP
Jenson Button, 1m 36.541s, P10/1m 35.181s, P1
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 36.519s, P9/1m 35.651s, P4, will start P8

Button said that his car felt much better for final practice and qualifying, after the balance was poor on Friday. He described the result as a ‘big turnaround’, and was able to take his second consecutive pole of the season. Barrichello ran into unwanted understeer in qualifying which could not be cured, and then had his five-place grid penalty applied for changing his gearbox after Friday practice.

Jarno Trulli, 1m 36.189s, P5/1m 35.273s, P2
Timo Glock, 1m 36.132s, P4/1m 35.690s, P5, will start P3

Toyota were very quick all through qualifying and Trulli was a genuine contender for pole position. The Italian was very pleased that hard work with the engineers had achieved a good set-up that he was able to exploit after dissatisfaction on Friday. He described his TF109’s behaviour as ‘spot-on’. Glock said he was frustrated in Q3 as he was struggling slightly with a heavier fuel load. That led to a few mistakes on his first run, but he said the second was really pleasing.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 36.194s, P6/1m 35.518s, P3, will start P13
Mark Webber, 1m 36.048s, P2/1m 35.797s, P7, will start P5

Vettel did another great job for Red Bull and was thus disappointed about his Australian penalty, which dropped him from third to 13th. Webber enjoyed his sessions, but said seventh was the best he could do with his fuel load.

Nico Rosberg, 1m 35.940s, P1/1m 35.750s, P6, will start P4
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 36.325s, P8/1m 34.788s, P12, will start P11

Rosberg was very happy with sixth place, which became fourth when the penalties were applied to Vettel and Barrichello. He thought his FW31 lacked pace slightly in Q1 and Q2, but found it really good with a fuel load in Q3. Nakajima should have backed him up then, but failed to make it through Q2 again.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 36.563s, P11/1m 36.106, P8, will start P6
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 37.026s, P15/1m 34.768s, P11, will start P10

Again it was mixed news for BMW Sauber, who do not yet seem to have the qualifying pace to match the race pace shown by Kubica in Australia. The Pole was not running KERS and said he was satisfied with what he was able to achieve with a car that bottomed a lot after changes to the set-up since practice. He said his F1.09 was unstable and not easy to drive as a result. Heidfeld elected to run KERS and was disappointed to encounter traffic on his second run in Q2, having been seventh after his first. He was unable as a result to generate ideal tyre temperatures. After his back-to-back runs with and without KERS on Friday, he said he was frequently the fastest car in sector one today.

Felipe Massa, 1m 36.089s, P3/1m 35.642s, P16
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 36.322s, P7/1m 36.170s, P9, will start P7

Ferrari struggled throughout qualifying, and made a major gaffe with Massa in Q1 when they thought he had done enough to get through and then found that he had been bumped. Raikkonen reported that the F60 was not lacking in any one particular area, but just lacked grip.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 37.004s, P14/1m 37.659s, P10, will start P9
Nelson Piquet, 1m 37.032s, P16/1m 35.708s, P17

Alonso said he was feeling much better today after running a temperature on Friday. He was disappointed with only 10th place overall, having hoped for fifth or sixth on merit, but suggested that the R29 was better than it had been in Melbourne. Piquet admitted to pushing too hard on his final lap in Q2 and losing three to four-tenths as a result.

Lewis Hamilton, 1m 36.657s, P12/1m 34.905s, P13, will start P12
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 36.742s, P13/1m 34.924s, P14

Hamilton spent a lot of practice making further set-up changes after overnight modifications had not achieved the desired result. He was still not happy with his car’s balance in qualifying, and said it would just not carry sufficient speed out of corners. Kovalainen only did one morning run after an electronic sensor alerted the team to a left rear tyre pressure problem, and said he had qualified about where he expected to.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 37.282s, P18/1m 36.107s, P20
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 37.322s, P19/1m 35.431s, P15

Bourdais said his car was quicker than he had expected it to be, while Buemi was pleased to improve in the first two sectors on his final run in Q1, but annoyed with himself after catching a kerb in the final sector which sent him into the gravel.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 37.282s, P17/1m 35.951s, P18
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 37.398s, P20/1m 35.958s, P19

Sutil had no problems but rued a lack of downforce and said the pace was the best the car would do. Fisichella said he had a problem with the throttle pedal on his first run, and it was changed for his second. The time lost prevented a third run, which he thought could have helped him to improve.

David Tremayne