Fisichella storms to pole in Malaysia

Giancarlo Fisichella seized the third pole position of his career on Saturday by clocking the fastest time in qualifying for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix

Fisichella storms to pole in Malaysia

The 33-year-old Renault driver narrowly outpaced 25-year-old Briton Jenson Button, driving a Honda, to top the times with a best lap of 1:33.840. Button clocked 1:33.986.

Rising star Nico Rosberg of Germany, the 20-year-old son of former champion Keke Rosberg, was third fastest for Williams ahead of seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, in a Ferrari.

Australian Mark Webber in the second Williams was fifth, Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya sixth for McLaren Mercedes and Finn Kimi Raikkonen, in another McLaren, was seventh.

Defending world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso was eighth for Renault on a day when engine problems hit the Ferrari team and others.

Shortly before the session began, it was confirmed that both German Michael Schumacher and his former Ferrari teammate Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, now at Honda, had required engine changes.

In addition to these two, Felipe Massa and Briton David Coulthard were also using new power-units, making four drivers in all. The Brazilian will get a second engine change before tomorrow's race.

The qualifying session began again in searing heat and high humidity. The track temperature was 48 degrees and the air temperature 37 when the session started with a humidity of 46 per cent.

The first session saw the 'elimination' of American Scott Speed, Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, Dutchman Christijan Albers, Portugal's Tiago Monteiro and the Japanese pair Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide.

Respectively, this group took the bottom six places on the grid, from 17th to 22nd.

In effect, it meant that the Toro Rosso, Midland F1 and Super Aguri teams were assured of their roles as the backmarkers before the temperature crept up to 49 degrees.

After the opening 15 minutes, the second session saw the first major incident when Ralf Schumacher's Toyota suffered a spectacular engine failure on the pits straight.

This meant he will have to drop down the grid, but since he had clocked a time that earned him a place in the top 10 it also added to the intrigue surrounding the starting order.

The second session saw the elimination also of Massa, who wound up with the 16th best time, German Nick Heidfeld's Sauber-BMW, in 17th, Canadian Jacques Villeneuve in the second BMW, Italian Jarno Trulli's Toyota, Barrichello's Honda and Coulthard's Red Bull-Ferrari.

This left Massa to sit frustrated on the pit wall while his teammate Schumacher set about trying to go quickest while Ralf Schumacher was also unable to run because of his need for another new engine.

Massa will require another engine change for the race.

Massa and Red Bull's Coulthard suffered failures after last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix. The problem, according to sources close to the team, was said to be cracked pistons.

Schumacher will also lose 10 places on the grid which is certain to produce an action packed race.

Malaysia qualifying breakdown Session 1 Session 2 Session 3
Pos Driver Team   Pos Time Lap Pos Time Lap Pos Time Lap
1. Fisichella Renault M 11 1:35.488 3 2 1:33.623 6 1 1:33.840 13
2. Button Honda M 4 1:35.023 3 1 1:33.527 3 2 1:33.986 13
3. Rosberg Williams B 6 1:35.105 4 7 1:34.563 3 3 1:34.626 12
4. M.Schumacher Ferrari B 16 1:35.810 5 9 1:34.574 5 4 1:34.668 13
5. Webber Williams B 9 1:35.252 3 4 1:34.279 3 5 1:34.672 12
6. Montoya McLaren M 1 1:34.536 3 8 1:34.568 3 6 1:34.916 12
7. Raikkonen McLaren M 2 1:34.667 3 5 1:34.351 3 7 1:34.983 12
8. Alonso Renault M 12 1:35.514 3 3 1:33.997 6 8 1:35.747 13
9. Klien Red Bull M 7 1:35.171 6 6 1:34.537 6 9 1:38.715 4
10. R.Schumacher Toyota B 8 1:35.214 7 10 1:34.586 3 10 No time 0
11. Coulthard Red Bull M 3 1:34.839 6 11 1:34.614 6      
12. Barrichello Honda M 14 1:35.526 6 12 1:34.683 8      
13. Trulli Toyota B 13 1:35.517 6 13 1:34.702 6      
14. Villeneuve BMW M 10 1:35.391 4 14 1:34.752 6      
15. Heidfeld BMW M 15 1:35.588 4 15 1:34.783 6      
16. Massa Ferrari B 5. 1:35.091 3 16. No Time 0      
17. Speed Toro Rosso M 17. 1:36.297 6            
18. Liuzzi Toro Rosso M 18. 1:36.581 7            
19. Albers Midland B 19. 1:37.426 7            
20. Monteiro Midland B 20. 1:37.819 6            
21. Sato Super Aguri B 21. 1:39.011 6            
22. Ide Super Aguri B 22. 1:40.720 6            

Note:

qualifying results do not reflect the final grid, as the drivers marked in red will incur a penalty of at least ten places.

The final grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix will be published ahead of the race.

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