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Alonso edges Trulli for pole 20 Mar 2005

(L to R): The top three qualifiers Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault and Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 20 March 2005 David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Cosworth RB1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 20 March 2005 The Toyota team celebrate as Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota qualifies.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race Day, Sepang, Malaysia, 20 March 2005 Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) McLaren Mercedes MP4/20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 19 March 2005 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari F2004M leaves the pits.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 19 March 2005

Fernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella remained the top three on the grid for this afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix, following a thrilling second qualifying session this morning.

It was the Spaniard who put in the fastest lap, of 1m 35.090s, to retain his overall advantage with 3m 07.672s. Trulli’s overall best was 3m 07.925s, and Fisichella’s 3m 8.448s.

One of the bigger movers was Williams’ Mark Webber, who jumped from sixth to fourth on 3m 08.904s after lapping in 1m 35.700s. Ralf Schumacher remains fifth with 3m 09.007s, but Kimi Raikkonen dropped from fourth to sixth on 3m 09.483s.

The other biggest movers were the Red Bull duo, Christian Klien and David Coulthard. The Austrian maintained his advantage over his team-mate with 3m 09.589s, the Scot lapping in 3m 09.700s to climb from 11th to eighth. Clearly they look to be running lighter fuel loads than others.

Jenson Button remained ninth for BAR with 3m 09.832s, and Nick Heidfeld went the opposite way to Williams team mate Webber by dropping from eighth to 10th on 3m 09.917s after losing a bit of time going too far over a kerb.

The biggest loser of all was Juan Pablo Montoya, who went from seventh to 11th on 3m 10.090s after a small mistake braking for one of the hairpins. The word from McLaren, however, is ‘Watch us in the race’.

Ferrari are still in trouble, but Rubens Barrichello vaulted past Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher to take 12th place on 3m 11.502s, while the world champion managed 3m 11.633s so drops a place to 13th.

At Sauber, Felipe Massa complained of understeer on his fuel load and dropped from 13th to 14th on 3m 11.884s as a result, and team mate Jacques Villeneuve was 16th on 3m 12.995s.

Anthony Davidson separates them with 3m 11.890s, and is thus ready to start his third grand prix, and his first for BAR, in 15th spot.

Narain Karthikeyan maintained his 17th position ahead of Jordan team mate Tiago Monteiro, with times of 3m 17.656s and 3m 17.962s respectively, while Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers likewise stayed put on 3m 21.186s and 3m 23.001s.

There are clearly a fair few refuelling strategies at work. Almost certainly everyone will go for two stops, but the timing of them may well be critical. That, and tyre wear in track temperatures expected to near 60 degrees Celsius. Without question, this is going to be a very tough race.