An all Ferrari front row and an all McLaren second row; the British outfit is saying that Ferrari must be carrying more fuel, Ferrari are saying that Massa did a particularly good Q3 lap and Nick Heidfeld is quite rightly complaining about cars being in the way on his flying lap. Oh and both ‘number 2s’ out qualified their team-mates.
The Ferraris are definitely carrying more fuel than the McLarens but the gap is too big for that to be the only reason why they are struggling round the Malaysian circuit. McLaren will be running longer in the first stint but whether it is long enough, I doubt it. Ferrari have got their act together since Australia and we will see a much better reflection on just how much they have progressed over the winter months.
It was really down to Nick Heidfeld’s driving that prevented what could have been a monumental accident during his final flying lap as many of the other cars on the track were cruising round, saving fuel, having already completed their fast lap. There is nothing strange in that but many of them were sitting on the racing line, meaning that Heidfeld, who was still at race speed, had to weave in and out of them losing perhaps two hundredths of a second. This would have pushed him up to P3 ahead of Kovalainen.
As to why the other cars were on the racing line is unclear, although I wouldn’t have thought that they had seen Heidfeld approaching, such was his closing speed. Something desperately needs to be done – whether the cars have to complete the lap in a minimum time or have a minimum speed (off the racing line) I am not sure but it is only a matter of time before we see a rear-end of huge proportions.
As for the rest of the field, Trulli qualified well putting the Toyota on the third row and another strong showing from Webber put him in 8th position. I suspect the Toyota will slip down the order in the race and the two Williams’, which qualified down in 16th and 18th, may well be more competitive in the race. Time will tell.
The new qualifying set-up makes such a difference – I wonder if anyone else has been surprised to find themselves on the edge of their seat at the end of Q3? I certainly was. I will no doubt be clean off it come tomorrow and the red lights going out.