What with Sebastian Vettel reminding us exactly why he's currently top dog in the F1 paddock and Lewis Hamilton pushing the world champion to the very limit, a cracking race awaits. And that's before we even mention Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, tyres or weather. I'll be seeing you back here at 0730 sharp - this is one race you most certainly do not want to miss.
Not a bad way to get your weekend started, huh?
are among the sports to keep you occupied before we meet again at 0730 on Sunday. We'll have an hour-and-a-half of build-up here online
, while BBC One
, the BBC HD Channel
and Red Button
kick into gear at 0800. You can watch the race itself at 0900 through all of those platforms, and/or listen to it on BBC Radio 5 live
. We've also got the F1 forum from 1115-1215 online and on the Red Button, a race repeat on BBC One at 1300 and - last but by no means least - highlights at 1900-2000 and 0230-0330 on BBC Three. What more could you ask for?
In case you missed it earlier, Sunday will see a 24-man grid for the first time this season. At the Australian Grand Prix, Hispania drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi failed to post a lap within 107% of the fastest time set in the first session of qualifying. The pair were once again the slowest qualifiers but this time round they just about made the cut.
Another hugely impressive performance from Scottish rookie Paul di Resta, who will start from 14th on the grid. It continues to baffle me why Force India insist on deploying reserve driver Nico Hulkenberg ahead of Di Resta in FP1 (the first practice session on a race weekend) but maybe that will change in China next week. With even more time at the wheel, Di Resta would surely be confident of knocking on the door of the top 10.
Michael Schumacher will be far from happy to have missed out on the top 10, but on the flipside he starts Sunday's race from 11th on the grid with a fresh. "We'd already had trouble in practice with our rear wing activating - it would get stuck," the seven-time world champion tells BBC One
. "That's what happened in my final run in qualifying, and it wasn't properly driveable. Having Ross Brawn [team principal and renowned tactician] on board, something might happen in the race."
Dave, Chester, via text on 81111:
"Not good enough again from Schumacher, maybe its time to call it a day and let one of the younger drivers get a chance in a fast car, Kobayashi or Sutil maybe."
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso:
"It was not easy. We found we were not competitive enough in morning practice, so it was again a conservative approach, and only do one run in Q3. You have to risk but at the same time not too much. It is a stressful situation. We did our job today, knowing we must improve. A second gap between pole position and us is too much. In the race I think it is much closer. I'm not so sure which conditions are better for us. The start will be interesting. Maybe we can overtake the Red Bulls here - we believe they do not have the Kers here. If it's raining here, everything is a gamble."
So here's the rundown: Sebastian Vettel
of Red Bull takes pole position with a breathtaking lap of one minute 34.870 seconds. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
(1:34.974) starts in second with Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber
(1:35.179) third. Jenson Button
(1:35.200) is on the same side of the grid as colleague Hamilton, while Fernando Alonso
(1:35.802) sits fourth for Ferrari and Renault's Nick Heidfeld
(1:36.124) fifth. Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa
(1:36.251) finds himself seventh. Vitaly Petrov
of Renault (1:36.324), Mercedes' Nico Rosberg
(1:36.809) and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi
(1:36.820) complete the top 10.
Team principal Christian Horner confirms Red Bull were using the Kers power boost system
and here's what he told Ted Kravitz on BBC One: "In all honesty, no I didn't expect it [pole position after Hamilton's hot lap]. An absolutely fantastic lap from Seb. The McLarens have been quick all weekend. Mark had a little Kers alarm that we're looking at, but I don't think it was anything significant."
BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan:
"No one even thought McLaren were even close to this level of performance. From Australia qualifying to this, it's just remarkable."
BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle:
"We've witnesses a great battle between Vettel and Hamilton there. Vettel made the difference in my view."
Scenes of wild celebration from Vettel's mechanics. He jumps out of his cockpit and takes a look at the timesheets. The German looks a tad surprised himself - he's pipped Lewis Hamilton to pole by just one tenth of a second. Magnificent showing from McLaren, but Vettel is the man to beat once again.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL QUALIFIES ON POLE POSITION FOR THE MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX
Webber stays third but Hamilton improves his fastest time to 1:34.974. Button can only stay third. It's all down to Vettel, the reigning world champion, winner of the last three grands prix... what can he do? We're about to find out... WOW... 1:34.870
... Vettel's done it! "We've just seen something very special," says DC.
Final hot laps Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. They're looking red hot, too...
"I have a feeling we're going to see something special," says DC on BBC One
"This is what we've all been waiting for". Ferrari in "damage limitation" according to Brundle
. "But Fernando Alonso will drive the wheels off the thing."
What an astonishing lap from Hamilton - DRS and Kers used to devastating effect to produce a majestic time. But it's not over yet. Four tenths seperating Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Button.
Vettel can only snatch second with a 1:35.122 but all four big guns have time for another effort on their soft tyres yet. Alonso, Massa, Rosberg, Heidfeld, Petrov and Kobayashi still in the pits.
VEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWWWWW Lewis Hamilton goes top of the timesheets with a 1:35.00. Button almost four tenths adrift. Now Webber's into second. Vettel flying round... DRAMA!
Martin Brundle on BBC One:
"I think Red Bull will be very shocked at the pace of the McLarens. It seems they're a serious threat."
Vettel - Webber - Hamilton - Button - Alonso - Massa - Rosberg - Heidfeld - Petrov - Kobayashi. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the top-10 shoot-out. TEN MINUTES
to nab pole position. Who's your tip?
Eddie Jordan on BBC One:
"Schumacher seems to love 11th place. He can't get a grip on these major big shootouts."
So we say goodbye to Schumacher
, Di Resta
. At least they get to start the race on whatever tyres they like. They top-10 must start on the rubbers they qualify with. Good stuff from Britain's Di Resta, outqualifying team-mate Sutil for the second race running. Rosberg, by the way, was six tenths quicker than Schumacher.
Nico Rosberg nips into the top 10 just as the session finishes, ironically bumping Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher
out of qualifying.
Alonso up for fourth with a 1:36.320 on those soft tyres, while Hamilton leaps to second with a 1:35.852. He's three tenths behind team-mate Button, who in Malaysia for Brawn in 2009.
Most drivers do one run early and one late. With the track pretty much empty, Renault gamble by sending their men out mid-session - and it pays off. Nick Heidfeld clocks a 1:36.811 to move fifth and then team-mate Vitaly Petrov (1:36.642) jumps into fourth.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher
asks his engineer, "What do we think is the target lap time" to get into final qualifying. He is told a 1m37secs - "so at the moment we're going to have to run again."
As things stand, Buemi, Alguersuari, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Petrov, Sutil and Di Resta are going to miss the cut.
Ferrari 1.5 seconds off the pace. Bad times.
Webber takes top spot with a 1:36.080, only for Vettel to usurp his Red Bull team-mate with a 1:35.934. And then comes Jenson Button... fastest with a stunning 1:35.569.
Lewis Hamilton pops up with a 1:37.339 to top the timesheets.
BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz:
"Red Bull are reporting no problems with Mark Webber's car and the feeling down here is that he just couldn't get a balance on low fuel and the hard tyre."
The second qualifying session is... GO, GO, GO. Fifteen minutes that will end with another seven drivers slipping by the wayside. This is all getting rather tense.
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson:
"Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne has been saying all winter that he believed the team had closed the gap to the midfield and it's fair to say that claim has been met by scepticism in some quarters. But Gascoyne has proved to be right on the evidence of qualifying in Malaysia. Kovalainen is only half a second off Rubens Barrichello's Williams. You have to say that's very promising after their problems in the first race."
Karthikeyan, incidentally, qualifies for his first GP for five-and-a-half years. Pow.
Missing out are Maldonado
but all have made it inside the 107% cut
so we will have a 24-car field on Sunday for the first time this season.
Massa tops the timesheets for for the first qualifying session with a 1:36.744, Hamilton second with a 1:36.861. Alonso, Schumacher and Kobayashi complete the top five. Button, Petrov, Heidfeld, Rosberg and Vettel occupy placed five to 10, while Alguersuari, Sutil, Buemi, Perez, Webber, Di Resta and Barrichello are also in.
At present, Liuzzi, Karthikeyan, D'Ambrosio, Glock, Trulli, Rosberg and Kovalainen are going to miss out. Mark Webber down in 14th.
Ferrari go straight on to soft 'option' tyres as they bid to avoid major embarrassment. The rest of the big guns are currently on the hard 'prime' variety. Massa goes quickest with a 1:36.744 and Alonso second with a 1:36.897. Renault put Petrov of softs too and he's up to fourth. We're seeing the Russian using the Drag Reduction System (DRS) - or moveable rear wing - at regular intervals. Drivers have free use of DRS in qualifying but in the race it's confined to the pit straight between Turns 15 and One.
BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle
on Ferrari: "They're saying they don't know what has happened since winter testing. They are struggling for pace. They view this as damage limitation until they can understand what has happened to the pace of their car. I thought it was very open and honest of them to say that." Co-commentator David Coulthard
adds: "Barcelona is a car-prover so I can understand why they're scratching their heads."
We're back under way with a GREEN FLAG
. Among those still to set a time with eight minutes remaining are Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov.
Our man Ted Kravitz
feels Lotus will be disadvantaged by this red flag. Kovalainen and Trulli feel they are on cusp of making Q2, but it will be struggle now to do two runs.
A piece of Toro Rosso bodywork is on the track and that means a RED FLAG
. Not ideal. It has come from Seba Buemi's car - it's actually the bodywork from his entire sidepod.
A few early laps on the board but here come the big guns and Lewis Hamilton goes top of the timesheets with an effort of one minute 37.466 seconds. Sebastian Vettel two thousands adrift.
Our pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz
has an update on Alonso and Massa... "Ferrari say they can't fight for the top positions - the best they can hope for is sixth or seventh. They just don't have any grip."
Drivers at the ready, it's time to remind you about our
If you've used it previously, you'll know it's really very good. For those of you who haven't, suck it and see. As well as the link, you can find it in the video console at the top of this page.
We tune into the Vigin team radio... Timo Glock's race engineer tells his charge the predicted rain showers are dying away and that it looks like first part of qualifying could be dry.
A sweaty weekend for Nico Rosberg and his rivals.
DC scuttles off to his air-conditioned commentary box to join Martin Brundle for qualifying. Those on the track are less privileged - it's hot, sunny and sweaty out there on the Sepang International Circuit. "It's pretty much torture," Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg. "You can't expand your lungs properly because of the seat belts, you have the fuel behind you and that's hot, and there's no fresh air coming in. Sometimes I loosen my belts on the straights and then tighten them when I get to the corner."
The heat and humidity is on the rise, with heavy cloud cover beginning to gather overhead. If the heavens decide to open during qualifying as they did 12 months ago, we could be in for a classic. TEN MINUTES TO GO
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson:
"To answer Mark's question, there's no doubt Ferrari appear to be struggling at the moment - they appear to be about a second off the pace in Malaysia - and that this is a surprise, for two reasons. One, they were title contenders last year, and two, the car looked genuinely fast in pre-season testing. The F150° Italia appears to lack grip and balance, which is almost certainly a result of less-good aerodynamics than, particularly, Red Bull. Ferrari have unusually decided to stick with a conventional push-rod rear suspension system, where most teams are now using
pull-rods to aid the airflow
to what has become a critical area around the bottom of the rear wing. Whether this is contributing to their lack of performance remains an open question. But I would not write them off yet. They are fantastically well resourced. Remember that last year Alonso qualified 12th in Turkey only for the Ferrari to then rapidly emerge as the second fastest car and the Spaniard to come within a hair's breadth of a third title."
Mark, Horsham in West Sussex, via text on 81111:
"What are your thoughts on the performance of Ferrari as they seem to have gone backwards and don't seem to have unique design ideas like a lot of other teams nor the ability to make progress like McLaren, Renault and Mercedes? Do you think they have stagnated in F1 of the past and haven't got design freedom within the team to think and design outside 'the box'?"
Back to Hispania
and here's the view of Eddie Jordan: "Geoff Willis is a very competent engineer. He won championships at Williams, he was at Red Bull and Honda. Let's not be overcritical. Sure they had a shocker at Melbourne, but let's just start from today." And David Coulthard: "It's obviously a management and financial issue. Geoff said he didn't start designing the car until December. Most teams start in the middle of the year. Something's going on behind the scenes that's not giving them the best chance." Based on the third free practice session, our calculations suggest Liuzzi would miss the 107% cut by 0.03secs and Karthikeyan by 0.3secs. Small margins but big repercussions.
Plenty of chat about lowly Hispania. Neither of their drivers - Narain Karthikeyan or Tonio Liuzzi - managed to post a lap within 107% of the fastest time set in the first session of qualifying for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, which meant they were excluded from the race. How will they fare today? If practice times are anything to go by, they have a real struggle on their hands.
And here's Key on how Mexican rookie Sergio Perez managed to go through the race on only two sets of tyres: "The one-stop wasn't planned, we monitored it as we went along. We were planning a two-stop, but as we looked it we thought, actually we can do a one-stop here. With five laps to go, the times started to drop off but he managed it really well."
The boys are walking the pit lane and they've had a nice chat with Sauber technical director James Key
on the team's exclusion from the Australian GP results because of a rear wing technicality: "We had no idea until after the race that we had the problem," says Key. "It was probably about three hours after the race that it was highlighted and it took us completely by surprise and we had to look into it. We've gone through how it failed and it's not going to happen again. It hurt a lot - the whole team was very sorry, particularly because the drivers did such an outstanding job in the race. The top of the flap is pretty incidental to how the wing is working and to a certain extent that is how this occurred because the guys weren't paying attention. I think the Melbourne result was genuine."
Dhaval via text on 81111:
"Loving Eddie's shirt today. Looks like my aunt's old wallpaper!"Hmmm, how can I describe the button-up EJ's sporting today? I'll go for strawberries and cream; F1 expert Andrew Benson next me opts for "white with large pink blobs"...
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Kuala Lumpur:
"Renault are back up and running after a rogue batch of uprights limited Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov's running on Friday when both spectacularly crashed out. Both Renaults were within a second of Lewis Hamilton's top time for McLaren in final practice and I was able to ask friendly Renault team boss Eric Boullier what his hopes were for qualifying. The Frenchman says he is targeting fifth place on the grid because he reckons Red Bull and McLaren are 'out of reach'. Boullier also added that driver confidence is the key to the putting together a hot lap around Sepang. That could be interesting as Petrov qualified 13th here whereas the very experienced Heidfeld didn't have an F1 drive a year ago."
Nick via text on 81111:
"David, what time does Q1 actually start? It's just that I need as much sleep as possible this morning what with
going on 'til late tonight."Golf? GOLF? This weekend is ALL about F1, Nick! To answer your question, Q1 begins at 0900. Miss it, miss out.
But this show is not only about our star-studded presenting team. No, no, no - it's also about YOU. Yes, YOU. So let's be texting in on 81111 (UK)
or Tweeting via the Twitter
Should you require a specific question to be answered, I'd recommend you Tweet me direct
and I'll do everything in my considerably power to get you a swift and accurate answer. Deal?
Jake, EJ and DC looking resplendent as ever as the coverage begins. Not sure they'll be able to say that in a few hours time - the Sepang International Circuit is situated in lush tropical forest 60km south of Kuala Lumpur and built over a 260-acre palm plantation. In other words, it tends to get more than a little bit hot and sweaty.
I can hear
ringing in my ears and that can only meant one thing. We're live on BBC One
, the BBC HD channel
, the BBC Red Button
and right here online. We're all over it.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Kuala Lumpur:
"The world of Formula 1 isn't used to seeing Sebastian Vettel fourth in the timesheets but F1 insiders reckon the world champion could have something else surprising up his sleeve for qualifying. The Red Bulls, who topped Friday practice with Mark Webber at the helm, is suspected to be fast enough to attempt to qualify on the hard tyres. That could be an advantage in Sepang because the soft tyres appear to be lasting for nine laps whereas the hards can last four laps longer. If a team qualifies in the top 10 on soft tyres then they have to start on them, which means they will have to pit a short distance into the race having used up four laps of tyre life in qualifying. So it's worth keeping an eye on tyre strategy in qualifying. AND it's worth bearing in mind that if the forecast thunderstorms do arrive on Sunday, any clever strategy will be rendered useless anyway!"
An hour-long session - split into three parts - to decide who starts where in Sunday's dingdong showdown. What on earth is a "dingdong showdown"? Anyway, part one sees the slowest seven cars drop out to leave us with 17 men on the track, before another seven bite the dust in part two. Then it's all about the top-10 shoot-out for the right to take pole position. Tasty.
Qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix. This is where we separate the men from the boys. Well, not quite, but you get the picture. This is BIG. An hour and 20 mins 'til kick-off.
With practice done and dusted it's time to turn our attention to qualifying. And oh what a session we have in store. Qually is live on BBC One
, the BBC HD Channel
and BBC Radio 5 live
, with the TV coverage getting under way at 0800 and the action starting at 0900. I'll be back after a quick refuel. Nerve-jangling stuff. Hamilton? Webber? Button? Vettel? Alonso? You decide...
And what of Ferrari? Alonso finishes FP3 in sixth place, a whopping 0.944 seconds off the pace. Even worse for Felipe Massa, 1.422 seconds adrift of Hamilton's top time. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher is 10th-fastest in his Mercedes and Britain's Paul di Resta finds himself 18th for Force India, while the Hispanias of Tonio Liuzzi and Narain Karthikeyan sit bottom of the pile, right on the border line of the 107% rule. Massive qualifying session coming up for the Spanish team.
Down comes the chequered flag to crown Lewis Hamilton
as the quickest man in the third and final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix. The 2008 champion takes the spoils with a lap of one minute 36.340 seconds, which is 0.290secs faster than the Red Bull of Webber. Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button
is third with a 1:36.762, Renault's Nick Heidfeld
(1:37.115) fourth and world champion Sebastian Vettel
Hamilton the new leader with a 1:36.340 and Webber finally comes to the fore with his first competitive lap - a 1:36.630 which puts him second-fastest. "Sandbagging" concluded commentator David Croft and analyst Ant Davidson on 5 live sports extra. Ferrari a whole second of the pace - bad times.
Most of the drivers coming out on soft tyres as the session draws to a close. Button now leads the way with a 1:36.805, 0.479secs clear of Alonso and 0.492 of Vitaly Petrov. Massa, Vettel, Schumacher, Rosberg, Buemi, Barrichello and Alguersuari make up the top 10.
As expected, Alonso goes fastest with a 1:37.284 on the soft 'option' tyres. Now, while we don't know fuel loads it's interesting to see that Michael Schumacher is a whole second off the pace on the same rubbers. surely the gap between Ferrari and Mercedes isn't that big, is it?
Anthony Davidson is in the 5 live sports extra
comm box today and he reckons Force India driver Paul di Resta is at a disadvantage after missing the first 90-minute practice session on Friday, when Nico Hulkenberg drove instead. "I fear that it's putting Di Resta at a disadvantage for the whole weekend, particularly compared to an experienced team-mate like Adrian Sutil - and that's the last thing you need," Davidson says of his fellow Brit. "It's put him in a very weak position for the weekend."
Vettel - also on the hard 'prime' compound - improves his top time to 1:38.016. Webber down in 22nd with a top time of 1:44.355. He's done 12 laps to Vettel's 10 but is 6.3 seconds off the pace and back in the pits Schumacher, meanwhile, is up to second with a 1:38.300. Rosberg, Button and Buemi fellow top-fivers as Alonso comes out on soft 'option' tyres. Expect a quick time.
John Button looks on from the McLaren garage with a smile as his son goes fastest with a lap of 1:38.464 on the hard 'prime' tyre, only to be pipped by Vettel (1:38.213). Sebastien Buemi (1:38.665) and Jaime Alguersuari (1:38.716) - on the soft 'option' tyre - make up the top five. The only man yet to post a time today is Tonio Liuzzi of Hispania. Come on guys, get him going.
BBC Sport's Andrew Benson:
Vettel is looking for his fourth successive race win this weekend
"What Vettel is talking about there is the moveable rear wing, which is a feature new for 2011. In an attempt to make overtaking a little easier, the cars are equipped with a device that lifts the top flap of the rear wing on the straights. What this does is 'stall' the wing - i.e. stop it producing downforce, and therefore drag - which increases straightline speed. Drivers can use the device - officially called the Drag Reduction System (DRS) - at all times during practice and qualifying but in the race only on the pit straight and only if they are within a second of the car in front. The car defending its position in the race cannot use its moveable wing."
Felipe Massa goes fastest with a lap of 1:38.926 on the hard 'prime' tyres. He's 0.014secs ahead of Hamilton and 0.127 of Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso in third. Heidfeld and Button also in the top five, Vettel (1:39.348) down to seventh. Michael Schumacher finds himself 16th and Mark Webber 5.4 seconds off the pace in 21st. Early days, mind.
Vettel update... "The wing does not stall any more."Explanation to follow
Listening in to the Red Bull team radio for Sebastian Vettel
... "Ok, Rocky [Guillaume Rocquelin, his race engineer], there's something wrong with the [rear] wing, I'd like it to stall."
Lewis Hamilton moves top of the pile with a 1:38.940, 0.118secs clear of Renault's Nick Heidfeld. Jenson Button sits third, Vitaly Petrov fourth and Sebastian Vettel fifth.
Pirelli's soft 'option' tyres
Webber started off the second session on the hard tyre and switched to the softer 'option' to set his quickest time. This was a pattern adopted by most of the field, as they tried to get the best out of their single set of soft tyres on a track that became progressively more rubbered-in. In general, the soft tyres have proved to be in the region of 1.2 seconds per lap quicker than the hard compound
, with a predicted operating range of between eight to 10 laps
in the race. The soft tyres for Malaysia and China, characterised by yellow logos, have been given additional markings in order to distinguish them more clearly. A gold band has been drawn round the circumference of the tyre, which should make the compound easier to spot on television. A revision to the markings, intended to give the colours greater visibility, will be in place for the Turkish Grand Prix in May, when the Formula One season arrives in Europe.
Pirelli's hard 'prime' tyres are denoted by silver markings
This season's tyre supplier Pirelli report 1255 completed laps during Friday's two free practice sessions, with the usual two sets of hard 'prime' tyres and one set of soft 'option' tyres used. On this occasion, each driver also had two sets of a new experimental hard compound, designed with a slightly different philosophy to make it more stable throughout its operating window. That was just for the purposes of future product development. During the morning session, most teams opted to use both types of hard compound tyre. Webber's fastest time in the morning was set using the standard hard compound tyre, denoted by its silver markings. Williams driver Pastor Maldonado completed the longest run with it, setting fifth-fastest time towards the end of a 19-lap stint.
... only for Renault's Vitaly Petrov, who finished a magnificent third in Australia but had an awful day on Friday, to take top spot with a 1:39.884.
Off we go, then, and word is that Lewis Hamilton is taking his McLaren out for three timed laps. Top of the timesheets early doors is Hamilton's former team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, now of Lotus, with a lap of one minute 41.868 seconds.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Kuala Lumpur:
"Mark Webber said it was a case of 'so far so good' after he topped the timesheets for Red Bull on Friday. The Australian was just 000.5 seconds ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button in second practice, with his team-mate Sebastian Vettel 0.214 secs adrift in fourth behind Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. The two Red Bulls look evenly matched over the first two sectors of the lap but Webber found his extra time in the final third. All 12 teams will use third practice to get a feel for their true pace. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added: 'It's difficult to draw too many conclusions. The McLarens looks competitive and the Mercedes are not too far away.'"
Installation laps complete, we should be up and running in no time at all - just a few last-minute tweaks taking place in the pits.
BBC pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham
reports a fairly thick covering of cloud and a hazy atmosphere, with an air temp of 28C, a track temp of 35C and 83% humidity. No wonder most of the drivers cool their jumpsuits in a freezer before getting in their machines at this race. Natalie's colleague Ted Kravitz
says he has some "juicy" news coming up on Hispania, some "interesting" info on Renault and also a bit of Kers goss from Red Bull. Keep you posted. Oh, and Ted also speaks of a Ferrari garage that is not exactly full of optimism ahead of Sunday's main event.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Kuala Lumpur:
"Track temperatures reached 49C on Friday but they are set to climb even higher today, which means the tyres will come under even closer scrutiny. The hard and soft compounds are behaving differently here than in Australia and McLaren driver Jenson Button says: 'When the soft tyres drop off they fall off a cliff, so it is very tricky.' Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery agreed that the tyres are degrading more quickly here and that the performance differential is greater. 'There is a second in absolute times between the soft and the hard and the teams will be working on their strategies in light of this,' he said."
This praccie sesh is an hour long and will probably be used to fine tune race set-up and, later, qualifying set-up. We're going live on the BBC Red Button
, right here online
and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
very shortly. For your chance to win - sorry, this is the BBC - I mean, join the party just use the Twitter hashtag
or Tweet yours truly
One other way to get involved - SMS message via 81111
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Kuala Lumpur:
"If it's possible it feels even hotter at the Sepang circuit. The air is stifling and only in the minutes leading up to third practice have people emerged in the paddock and the grandstands. One of those was Paul di Resta, who shared his latest weather forecast. The Scottish Force India driver predicts third practice will at least stay dry. He adds that he is most worried about the race, when several thunderstorms are due to strike. Eek! I also bumped into Renault boss Eric Boullier, who is confident his cars will run reliably today after both were hit by upright failures on Friday. He says Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov are now running with a new batch of parts."
Greetings, ladies and gents, how are we all? This is, indeed, going to be a really interesting day as the 12 teams put something approaching the finishing touches to their vehicles in the third and final free practice session before qualifying for Sunday's race. Buckle up.
Sebastian Vettel's superiority over Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber must be starting to grate with the Aussie. Not since
Monza seven months ago
has the 34-year-old led his colleague on the track, while in the time since he last won a race
(Hungary on 1 August)
23-year-old Vettel has won four and picked up a maiden world title, which Webber has craved his entire career. Ouch. On Friday, however, Webber bounced back from his malaise with a dominant performance in both qualifying sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix and will be bloomin' desperate to remain at the head of the field on both Saturday and Sunday. Just one of several intoxicating subplots to the 2011 Formula 1 season. Enjoy...