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Fisichella takes Malaysia pole

NEWS STORY
18/03/2006

Ahead of today's qualifying session, the big news is that both Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello will require engine changes, which means that both Ferraris will forfeit ten grid spots.

Both Ferrari and Honda made their respective decisions following this morning's free practice session, in which, funnily enough, Michael was quickest.

Ahead of today's first knock-out session, the air temperature is 37 degrees C, while the track temperature is 48 degrees.

The lights go green, and first out is Monteiro, followed by Albers, Sato and Ide.

Of the 'big guns', Giancarlo Fisichella is one of the first to go out.

Albers posts the first time of the session, the Dutch driver crossing the line at 1:38.357, however, this is soon topped by Coulthard, who posts 1:36.507.

Alonso is on track, as is Ralf Schumacher, as Fisichella goes quickest with a 1:35.488.

Ralf goes quickest, as Alonso goes third, ahead of Speed.

Rubens Barrichello posts 35.902 to go fourth, as Raikkonen goes quickest in the first two sectors. The Finn crosses the line at 1:34.667, but Michael Schumacher is already on a good lap.

As Button goes second (35.023), as Michael takes seventh place with a 1:36.076. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Massa, who has had another engine change, will not go for a serious time and will settle for last place on the grid.

Montoya is on a very, very fast lap, as Rosberg takes sixth (35.577). The Colombian crosses the line at 1:34.536 to go quickest, as Webber takes fourth with a 1:35.252.

With just over two minutes remaining, both Red Bulls are in the 'danger zone', with Klien in the bottom six and Coulthard just above him.

Despite not going for a time, Massa goes fourth, posting 1:35.091.

Klien goes sixth, but is soon demoted by Coulthard who takes third, which drops Michael Schumacher to sixteenth, just above the 'drop zone'.

At the end of the first knock-out 'heat, Montoya is quickest, ahead of Raikkonen, Coulthard, Button, Massa, Rosberg, Klien, Ralf, Webber and Villeneuve.

Eliminated at the first hurdle however, are: Ide, Sato, Monteiro, Albers, Liuzzi and Speed.

The lights go green for round two, and this time nobody is in that much of a hurry to go out.

After a couple of minutes, Jacques Villeneuve is first to go out.

Despite his apparent problems, Michael Schumacher looks remarkable relaxed, and even waves to the TV cameras. Is Ferrari taking full advantage of the new format and the engine rules?

Villeneuve posts the first time, the BMW driver crossing the line at 1:36.669, having lost a lot of time in the final sector.

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