Schumacher unstoppable 21 Mar 2003
He was only seventh fastest in the morning's first timed practice session, but when it came to qualifying in Sepang this afternoon Michael Schumacher was once more unstoppable for Ferrari and Bridgestone.
As the track temperature see-sawed from an initial 43 degrees to 50, and then dropped mid-session as low as 42, the world champion lapped in 1m 34.980s comfortably eclipsing the previous efforts of an overly cautious David Coulthard, Alonso and Trulli in their Renaults, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher in the BMW Williamses, and Jenson Button in the BAR Honda.
Rubens Barrichello was the last man out as the drivers went out in world championship standings order this time, and just to rub it in, the Ferrari driver slotted into second place at the last moment with a lap of 1m 35.681s.
"Both drivers were on the same tyre specification and the key was to get a good tyre and car set-up here," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. "Track conditions change a lot here and it's a bit of a moving target."
Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier admitted that tyre choice is very difficult here. "Two of our tyres have very similar performance, the third is absolutely new."
"I'm quite happy with my car," Montoya said. "Ferrari are still quite a bit ahead but it is some comfort being ahead of both McLarens."