April 07, 2007
It's a cliche phrase, sure, but it's entirely appropriate after today's qualification session: neither Renault made it out of Q2.
Read that again: neither Renault made it out of Q2. The two-time Constructor's Champions couldn't do better than 11th on the grid. And they didn't even have the excuse of gearbox troubles or engine problems; the car was fine.
If we thought Flavio Briatore, team principal for Renault, tore strips off of lead driver Giancarlo Fisichella last year, what do you think was happening after this fiasco?
Up at the top of the grid, things are a little brighter: Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari, McLaren. At the very end of Q3, Kimi, Fernando, and Felipe all turned in fastest laps of the session, one after the other. Kimi just had the misfortune of doing it first, which was then trumped by Alonso, which seconds later was slammed by Massa. Lewis Hamilton in the other McLaren was over a half-second behind Raikkonen's time, which may be down to the fuel load.
That same size gap is the difference between Hamilton and the fifth-place BMW of Nick Heidfeld, showing the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Nico Rosberg, having a stellar qual session, ended up sixth, just ahead of Robert Kubica in the other BMW. Jarno and Ralf were 8th and 9th in their Toyotas. Tenth fell to Mark Webber's RB3... it appears that the 'engine problems' he had in Friday's 2nd practice were actually caused by a gearbox failure.
The two Renaults, as previously mentioned, are 11th (Kovaleineinennenin) and 12th (Fisichella). David Coulthard's Chin, who is the old man on the grid after celebrating his 36th birthday since Australia (note: the Duck turns 39 in a couple of weeks), brought his RB3 in at 13th, just ahead of SuperSato's SuperAguri...
...which again qualified ahead of both factory Hondas!
Jensen Button is 15th, and is lucky to be there. Vitantonio Liuzzi dragged his Toro Rosso in at 16th, just ahead of his teammate American Scott Speed. Ant's SuperAguri was quietly 18th, and a furious Rubens Barrichello was 19th.
Rubens wound up having to qualify the T-Car after his usual steed coughed up a lung a couple of minutes before Q1 started. It took the team close to 13 minutes to get the backup ready for him, so Barrichello got one lap to qual with. As you can see from the results, things did not go well.
Man-Mountain Wurz is 20th after having HIS gearbox try to tear itself out of his Williams.
But even with those problems, he still qualified better than both Spykers. Albers and Sutil are becoming the Minardi of 2007, except without any of the charm.
So there we have the grid for the 2007 Grand Prix of Malaysia! The race is early tomorrow morning, and the biggest question outstanding is: How will the two Renault drivers manage to sit down after having their butts chewed off by Flavor Flav?
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