Final practice - Heidfeld puts BMW Sauber on top 22 Mar 2008
No wonder Peter Sauber was smiling on Saturday morning. Three of his former drivers headed the timesheets during an unusual final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Nick Heidfeld pushed his BMW Sauber to the top spot, lapping in 1m 35.019s to depose former team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa in their Ferraris. The Finn posted 1m 35.262s, the Brazilian 1m 35.388s.
Right behind them was a string of drivers in the same bracket, right down to Lewis Hamilton in 11th place.
Jarno Trulli was fourth for Toyota on 1m 35.389s, then came Mark Webber and David Coulthard, their Red Bull RB4s cleared to run by the FIA after Fridays suspension dramas. The Australian lapped in 1m 35.437s, the Scot 1m 35.653s. Renault's Nelson Piquet was on a faster run than his seventh-best 1m 35.768s but ran off course right at the end, while Jenson Button took his Honda to 1m 35.781s, Sebastian Vettel his Toro Rosso to 1m 35.827s, Timo Glock his Toyota to 1m 35.911s and Hamilton his McLaren to 1m 35.927s.
So what did it all mean? Clearly, some were running in qualifying trim and others were running in less than qualifying trim. All will become clear this afternoon.
In a session remarkably devoid of real incidents, Fernando Alonso also went slightly agricultural trying to push his Renault beyond the 12th fastest time of 1m 36.068s. behind him came Williams Kazuki Nakajima (1m 36.183s), Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella (1m 36.229s), Nico Rosberg in the second Williams (1m 36.490s), McLarens Heikki Kovalainen (1m 36.529s), BMW Saubers Robert Kubica (1m 36.618s), Toro Rossos Sebastien Bourdais (1m 36.668s), Super Aguris Takuma Sato (1m 36.908s) and Force Indias Adrian Sutil (1m 36.939s).
Anthony Davidson took his Super Aguri to 1m 37.140s, while Rubens Barrichellos Honda spent most of the session in the garage with the gearbox off, and the Brazilian did not better 1m 37.703s.
The smart money remains on Ferrari fighting McLaren for pole, with BMW Sauber possibly upsetting the form, but it could be worth watching Vettel too.