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That's a wrap, guys - cue exhausted communal applause for everyone involved. What a session that was. If it was the 1930s and I was sending a concise telegram across continents it would read: Brawn still super-fast. Stop. Button on pole. Stop. Again. Stop. Massa will start at the back of grid. Stop. Ferrari struggling. Boss Domenicali likes Yazz. Stop. See you all tomorrow.
Brawn aside, what a start to the season for Toyota. And how the traditional big guns - namely Ferrari and McLaren - are running scared. Jarno Trulli in second and Timo Glock in third will be hoping to swiftly smother Button when the race action gets under way tomorrow (at 1000 BST). Here's Trulli: "The car was spot on today - it was a shame to lose out on pole by such a small margin. We were struggling yesterday but we got it right today and I am really looking forward to the race." Also worth pointing out that Fernando Alonso will start ninth on the grid. "I feel better today - no temperature - so I managed to start qualifying in good condition, there are no excuses from my side. We didn't deliver today as we expected to - we wanted top 5 or top 7 but it wasn't to be - we need to improve."
Frenetic stuff but trust you're all enjoying this gang? I know I am. Brawn's Ruben Barrichello
- who will start eight on the grid after that five-place penalty for changing his gearbox - has mixed emotions though. "All in all we had a fair and square qualifying session," he told BBC Sport. "I should have qualified on pole and lost the five places then. Right now I have a car that's understeering and that leaves a bit of a bad taste because I couldn't solve it."
Button's boss - Ross Brawn
- is a happy chappy. "It was a very tough challenge today," he told BBC Sport. "We've been running fuel for the last few days but we didn't know about the opposition and Q2 was the first chance to judge. Jarno is looking very quick but Jenson has looked very strong, we knew that from the reference time in Q1. The Red Bull's look strong too. I think it'll be a great race tomorrow."
Proud owner of pole position, here's Brawn GP's Jenson Button
with some reaction: "This one's probably more special than Melbourne. It's not easy to get one, but I've never achieved two on the trot. It's a great feeling and it shows that the car works on two different types of surfaces." And how's this for a mind-bending statement? "You still have the same sort of issues with the car as when it's slow, but you're just going quicker." He added: "I feel very comfortable in the car, so it makes it very exciting for tomorrow."
To be precise, the FIA are working out the penalties and will deliver a full grid list fairly soon hopefully. We'll be sure to pass it on. Here's British world champion Lewis Hamilton
(who will start for McLaren in or around 13th). "It was to be expected [not making the top 10]," he told BBC Sport. "Nothing has changed since the last race and it was as tough as ever. The car doesn't feel terrible but I can't carry the speed through the corners. We're not dead last and I had no gearbox problems."
Remarkable. That's Button's second successive pole and he'll now be hot favourite to follow up his victory in Melbourne and win the race tomorrow, apocalyptic weather permitting. Jarno Trulli - who's had a great start to the season - will join Button on the front row. What with all the penalties being imposed, we're working out the other exact grid positions.
1102: JENSON BUTTON SECURES POLE POSITION FOR THE 2009 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX.
Jenson goes quicker by almost half a second! Does another pole beckon? Rosberg just slips into third. Nearly done now.
Fourth tenths of a second down in the middle sector, he could only make it into fourth. Row two for now. Mark Webber is in fifth... Barrichello has just gone quickest! But it's deja vu time - here's Button...
Trulli leads now: three minutes remaining. Most teams favouring the softer tyres, as per usual in qualifying. Raikonnen has never sat on pole in Malaysia...
Who blows them all out of the water. So, Button is quickest, Vettel has just slipped into second - though he has a 10-place grid penalty to be imposed for the race tomorrow.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is not running Kers, not surprising after the problems he had with it in practice yesterday? He sets the benchmark time. Rosberg goes quicker. Then Barrichello. Here comes Brawn team-mate Jenson Button...
Ferrari's Felipe Massa throws in an early contender for understatement of the weekend. "I needed to do the perfect lap but I didn't do it. It was a big surprise not to make the the top 15 - it was a bit of a mistake," he told BBC Sport. The other casualties from that second qualifying session were Heidfeld, Nakajima, and Bourdais. Green light glares, we'll know the top 10 in 10 minutes.
Not a colossal surprise, but still. Kovalainen didn't make it into the top 10 either. The McLaren car quite clearly isn't working, reckons David Coulthard
while Eddie Jordan
blames their mentality - "it's below zero at the moment".
1043: WORLD CHAMPION LEWIS HAMILTON FAILS TO MAKE IT THROUGH THE SECOND QUALIFYING SESSION.
Kubica and Kovalainen are in trouble as Button pulls a 1:33.784 out of the bag. Rapid.
Brawn, I must tell you, look ominous. In a good way. For them. Not for the others... they really are cruising.
Right, all about squeezing into that tight-fitting T-shirt/ dress of a top 10 for the drivers now. Trulli fastest, Hamilton on the brink in tenth. Four minutes to go...
BBC Sport pundit Anthony Davidson on 5 Live
says of Massa missing out: "I think that the fortress Ferrari had is starting to crumble down - I walked past them as they were packing away in Melbourne and I remember thinking something just wasn't quite the same. They are missing something that they used to have."
Just 1.7 seconds separated all 20 cars in that first practice session. "It's going to be an incredibly close battle to get through to the top 10," declares David Coulthard.
Second session is under way, 10 minutes remaining... Trulli-Barrichello-Button fastest three right now.
Seems like it was a horrible own goal from Ferrari. BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz
explains: "The word from Ferrari is that it was a mistake. The car didn't work very well in the [harder option] tyres they thought they were safe. They were so confident of getting through to Q2 and Q1 and didn't want to burn another set of soft tyres."
Extraordinary, given the free practice lap times Ferrari have been putting in. BBC Sport pundit David Coulthard
thinks Massa was going up and down the gears on the back straight, indicating a problem. "He'll be taking the walk of shame back to his changing room and will be hoping for rain tomorrow. It's not a great start to his 2009." Both BMW Saubers scrambled through, by the way.
1020: FERRARI'S FELIPE MASSA FAILS TO MAKE IT OUT OF FIRST QUALIFYING SESSION.
"Timo Glock has been the giving the circuit a haircut for most of the weekend," ruminates Martin Brundle. The German is in sixth. BMW Sauber's really are in danger of missing out here... or are they? Two minutes left of this session.
BBC Sport's Anthony Davidson on 5 Live:
"Just seen some sparks coming from Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren, you don't see that very often these days - they must be running very close to the ground, probably in an effort to try and maximise the downforce." Trulli takes the fastest time with 1:34.745 - which is not too far from the qualifying record. Do or die for struggling BMW's.
Not talked much about Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais so far this season. This is BBC Sport's Martin Brundle on the French flyer, who's clinging on with his fingertips in 15th at the moment: "Always looks like he's lost 100 francs and found one. He's usually got an unhappy demeanour." button still fastest, Nakajima second, then Barrichello.
Jenson shaves a bit more off his leading time. Red Bull's Mark Webber moves up to ninth. Force India look good but are carrying a light fuel load, we think.
Button goes quickest: 1:35.173. All the times are so close though. No Alonso yet. Rememer, he's struggling with an ear infection.
Ferrari are flying. Kimi Raikkonen sets the fastest time of free practice of the softer tyres. None of these times count, by the way, it's just about being in the top 15 and getting through to the second qualifying session.
It's windier than earlier on in practice and the ever-present threat of rain looms. But the track's dry. Rosberg gobbles up the fastest lap so far, rookie Buemi second.
The green light glares: this 20 minute qualifying session is open for business. Oh, apologies to The Plastic Population who - how could I forget? - helped steer Yazz to that instant pop smash of the 1988 summer [and into the heart of Ferrari's boss].
Never knew sporting director of Ferrari Stefano Domenicali
was a big fan of Yazz. "There is a famous song called 'The Only Way Is Up'," he tells BBC Sport. "We have to stay cool, calm and concentrated. Reliability is one of the major issues. I'm confident the guys know what to do today." Less than 10 minutes before qualifying starts.
Just seen Jenson Button's tattoo! If you weren't with us yesterday, it's of... a... button. On the inside of his arm. Had two done in winter during the off-season. "I won't show you the other one," sniggers the early championship leader. Sun's back out again in Sepang, 'rain rain' has gone away.
The texts are flooding in on 81111
regarding the Lewis Hamilton and McLaren drama. Always a pleasure to hear from you. Here's Ali Murdoch from Edinburgh:
"Hamilton should never have been put in that situation by McLaren. From his press conference yesterday it is clear he will take some time to trust McLaren after this! He'll sign for Brawn next year! They'll be unstoppable!"
BBC Sport's F1 presenter Jake Humphreys has just been chatting to BMW Sauber boss Mario Thiessen
about Kers, the kinetic energy recovery system which can gives cars a boost of extra power. "It will potentially give us a lap time advantage here as we have the long straights. Plus, there's strategic advantage to overtake on straights or defend position. Kers is good on tracks with long straights, especially ones that have them after the starting line. But Kers is less useful in the wet, because you have less traction."
On the same day as horse racing's world-famous Grand National at Aintree takes place, BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
has now turned all John McCririck on us. Here's her latest pearl of wisdom from Sepang: "If you are still looking to pick your runners and riders for the Malaysian Grand "National" Prix then I've been having a word with a few tipsters in the paddock. The Brawns of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello remain the form favourites BUT the team have admitted they are struggling for balance in Malaysia and there were indications in practice they are not so comfortable on the Sepang circuit as they were on the Albert Park track. Both Ferraris are highly-fancied, with the experts split between Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen, who won here last year. The only question mark is over the Italian team's Kers system after Raikkonen suffered a steamy short circuit on Friday. BMW's Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull are attracting plenty of interest too."
Hey, guess what team? It's started to rain in Sepang. Claire Brodie from Scotland
has fired in an interesting 81111
text: "Lewis has got a cheek saying he always does as his team commands! What about 2007 Hungary? Was Lewis not instructed to let Fernando past in Q3, which he neglected to do? Yet another lie in the same sentence that he says he's not a liar! Hypocrite anyone?!"
Former Red Bull driver and BBC pundit David Coulthard
also feels that Hamilton will be questioning his status at McLaren: "It is my understanding that, with Lewis trying to explain the situation - Dave took charge. I'm sure Lewis is now reflecting on his relationship with the team. It's a terrible PR disaster." Remember - 81111
- please let me know what your thoughts are via text.
Former team owner and BBC pundit Eddie Jordan
has been giving his typically forthright opinion on what happened with McLaren's attempted cover-up in Melbourne. "Unacceptable in any sport, it was a blatant lie [from Dave Ryan]. But, by and large, he is a good man. It's a terrible shame because motor sport does not need this kind of scandal right now, especially as it's looks like being such an exciting season of racing." Perhaps most tellingly, he added: "I fear that Lewis will want out of McLaren. For 11 years they have guided him from total obscurity to stardom. This is a very deep wound - something neither team or driver will want to find themselves in He's very embarassed."
Completely aghast having just watched a brilliantly-detailed and riveting explanation of what precisely happened with the Lewis Hamilton-Jarno Trulli "let him pass" saga, for want of a better way of describing it. Hope you saw it too. Apologies to non-UK users. What I can tell you is that a remorseful-yet-defiant Lewis Hamilton was on the verge of tears at the end of his press conference yesterday, after the full story had emerged. It's such a huge story.
Hamilton loses Aussie GP points
Whoa! We're live on BBC1. And UK users can watch the video stream at the top of this page. There's an hour until qualifying begins but the big build-up has started... quite right too.
Wondering what's happening in Sepang in that vortex of time between practice and qualifying [RBOQ!]? I was too, but BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
painted a wonderfully evocative picture whilst walking through the paddock. To paraphrase... It's very hot. That means all the teams retire into their air-conditioned bases behind the garages - "like glass conservatories" - to which the media have no access. Ferrari's garage is totally empty, but a McLaren chap is cradling a tyre like a minutes-old baby as he washes it in a big bag. Toyota are doing the same, to get rid of grain and dust from the track. Last weekend's Australian Grand Prix was like being at a music festival. Malaysia isn't. Sepang is less about hospitality or entertainment. It's very hot.
Got any predictions for qualifying then? Here's that of former team owner and BBC pundit Eddie Jordan
(who BBC Sport's Sarah Holt has just bumped into in the Red Bull garage): "I'm going to go for last week's race-winner Jenson Button for pole position but I fear the wet weather will arrive on Sunday and turn the race into a complete lottery. I also fancy BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica to be amongst it. He will be fired up after his late crash with Sebastian Vettel in Australia. I also expect to see Kimi Raikkonen to go well here - he won in Sepang last year and is very confident around this circuit."
Before we digest another (opinion/ dunkable biscuit), might I flag up the results of that third and final practice session? You can also take in the official timings from yesterday's two sessions, to give you a bit of context before the RBOQ [Real Business of Qualifying] starts at 1000 BST. Explore the following link... but make sure you come back here!
Malaysian GP practice results
Here's former Red Bull driver and BBC pundit David Coulthard
to kick off our informal, get-yourself-a-cuppa vibe Opinion's Hour: "It is extremely tight between the Brawns, the Ferraris, Red Bulls and Toyotas. The only thing for certain is that Renault are really struggling. I don't know any drivers who really like driving around Malaysia as it's always a tough race."
Well. What to read into all that? Not a huge amount, truth be told. As BBC Sport pundit Anthony Davidson pointed out, Red Bull's Mark Webber has looked quick over these past two days. And, don't forget, he's probably battling with the dull throb of a broken leg that's still not entirely healed. Brawn GP still have that ominous feel about them, don't you think? C'mon, Letsbe Avenue. Get your 81111
texts coming in.
Practice is over. Williams's Nico Rosberg clocks the fastest lap with 1:35.940, just ahead of Mark Webber, Felipe Massa, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock. Rubens Barrichello - ninth ahead of team-mate Button in tenth - just complained to his Brawn engineers that the engine was "coughing" but they assured him it was okay and purely a result of running at the maximum oil level.
Boy, how Ferrari love Malaysia. Massa takes the lead from Raikkonen. But, boy, does Nico Rosberg (Jesper Olsen?) like practice. He's quickest now with 1:35.940.
Brawn's Ruben Barrichello briefly nicked the fastest lap from Button but Ferrari's Flying Finn Raikkonen has it now. Just minutes left of practice. Hamilton's Kers deployment is "absolutely spot on" over the last two laps, so his engineers tell him, and he's now fifth quickest.
Talking of Lewis, he also got into a spot of bother on
the track yesterday. The embattled world champion had to get his wallet out after being handed two separate fines for speeding in the pit-lane during practice. BBC Sport's Holty
tells me the young Englishman had to pay "2100 euros after clocking 65.3kph and 62.6kph, breaking the 60kph speed limit. And BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica also got a slap on the wrists for ignoring a yellow flag".
Ann Webb from Brackley on the 81111 texts:
"So Lewis was wrong, he has admitted his mistake and apologised. If Michael Schumacher had owned up to all his "mistakes" he would have lost a seasons worth of points. Lets now forget the politics and get on with enjoying the racing. X"
Button is leading again: 1:36.541. Tyre strategy is always crucial for each team at every race and here's BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
- track-side at Sepang - with some interesting subtext for this Malaysian GP: "F1 tyre suppliers Bridgestone are doing their best to shake things up with the two tyre choices they have brought to Malaysia. First of all, the hard tyres have never been used before by the teams, because it is not the same compound that was supplied during winter testing. The new hard tyres have been designed to warm up more quickly. As if that wasn't confusing enough, these particular soft tyres have never been brought to Malaysia before. All that means the 10 teams have quite a lot of thinking to do as they aim to get the best performance out of their cars."
F1 driver and duck-to-water BBC Sport pundit Anthony Davidson
has been talking about how Lewis Hamilton deals with the pressures of the last few days: "It's going to be a big test of Lewis's mindset this weekend. But he's a strong guy - of course he is. He's world champion. And 99% of the the time you forget about all your problems, you're in such a zone in these cars that nothing else gets in your way."
Nick Heidfeld [BMW Sauber] goes fastest with 1:37.026. Lots of conjecture over what McLaren are doing spraying a tyre in the depths of their garage. BBC Sport's Ted Kravitz
investigates and... turns out they were just checking for a puncture "as you would with one of those sprays at a garage on the Old Kent Road".
Lewis Hamilton's McLaren engineers have been encouraging him to utilise a "larger Kers deployment" around Turn Three. Will be an emotional day for the British team with suspended sporting director Dave Ryan nowhere to be seen. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is looking impressive. Track temperature is a sun-strangling 44C.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
has gone all Sir David Attenborough on us. Never a bad thing: "The Malaysian GP is bringing us much closer to nature than we anticipated. The city of Kuala Lumpur was carved out of a tropical forest at the point at the junction of two rivers. So it's no surprise that some of the indigenous species are still hanging around Sepang. The BBC office has already been visited by a gecko, which escaped through the corner of the cabin roof. Gangs of cows on the side of the road have also livened up the drive home through the dark. Worst of all, a snake was found in the ladies' toilet in the media centre, making my bathroom breaks brief to say the least."
King of Practice in Australia Nico Rosberg is quickest at the moment with 1:37.490. Is he like one of those footballers who's a genius in training but can't reproduce the goods come matchday?
Lovely Lee McKenzie - BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter
- also has this to say: "After so much political distraction over the past few days in Malaysia it's great to get back to some racing today. Sometime it's easy to forget that this is a sport and not a courtroom. I expect Ferrari to do well in qualifying; historically it's a very good circuit for them. From my pit-lane perspective, it is never good to stand with headphones and an aerial protruding from your head in an electrical storm but I am expecting changeable weather later on."
On the 81111 texts, Simon (Gush) says:
"I'm in Singapore at moment and going to Sepang tomorrow. Have packed rain coat. Hoping for British winner rather than Ferrari domination like last year."
The track is swiftly coming into the right condition and tyre temperatures are rising... times are dropping. Jenson Button is fastest with 1:38.601. Apparently, Renault's two-time world champion Fernando Alonso has earache so will only be at "90%" performance level today. Earache can't be pleasant with the decibel levels knocking about an F1 circuit. Mark Webber fastest now. No, Button.
Toyota's Timo Glock is doing a flying lap through the haze of the heat... one minute 40.082 seconds. Slow start. This practice session finishes at 0800 BST. The real business of qualifying - I love that little catchphrase - starts at 1000 BST.
Should have mentioned that Holty did report a big splodge of rain plopping on her forehead. But television pictures of a scantily-clad lady suggest it was just a rogue droplet. All cars have been out and done a lap before return to their garages. And they're going out again now...
Right, I want everyone to get involved today. Any thoughts or opinions - be it technical or perhaps even comic insight - send us a text message on 81111
. Radio 5 Live might also use it too. The inimitable BBC Sport's Sarah Holt
bestows us with the first missive of the day AND she's standing right by the Sepang track as I type: "Salut from Sepang. All set for the countdown to pole position? All ears here at the circuit have been tuned to the drone of engines courtesy of the first race of the GP2 Asia Series. All brows are gradually being beaded as temperatures hover at 32C in the paddock and 41C on the track. All we have to do now is look for a bit of form in final practice before qualifying comes around at 1700 local time."
Like a Japanese bullet train, we're bang on time. Most cars are out. Some doing practice starts at the end of the pit lane.
Big news from the first two practice sessions yesterday that got overlooked because of the McLaren debacle (all scandals are usually called Something-Gate; can't think of one that fits in this instance. Would love a scandal about an actual gate, though). Anyway. Rubens Barrichello will be penalised five places on the starting grid for the race tomorrow after changing the gearbox in his car. Championship pace-setters Brawn won't be too happy that it broke, will they?
First up, though, is the final practice session. That starts at 0700 BST and - for UK users - we'll have live video appearing at the top of this page in five minutes. The reference to British world champion Hamilton refers, of course, to the McLaren scandal which exploded yesterday. Sporting director Dave Ryan was suspended after 35 years' service while Lewis was close to breaking down after he admitted a cover-up job in a meeting with race stewards in Melbourne on Sunday. Catch up in full by exploring this link:
I am not a liar, insists Hamilton
Howdy y'all. There is huge potential for the body clocks of us Formula 1 fans to be in worse shape than Lewis Hamilton's reputation at the moment, what with the erratic time schedules of the early season races. Hope you're not suffering too much. Welcome to Day II of Part II 2009 - Malaysian qualifying.