Fisichella snatches Malaysian pole
Fisichella celebrates the third pole position of his career in Malaysia
SEPANG, Malaysia -- Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella took pole position with a flying late lap in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday.
The Italian grabbed the third pole of his career in a time of one minute 33.84, knocking Honda's Jenson Button off the top spot as the seconds ticked away at the end of the session.
"I was confident I would be in the front two rows," said Fisichella.
"But then in the qualifying session the car was just fantastic."
Renault team chief Flavio Briatore thought it was poetic justice after Bahrain, where Fisichella was forced to retire with an engine problem he had identified in qualifying.
"It was a fantastic performance by Fisico, great," said the Italian, whose other driver world champion Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest but lines up seventh.
"After the drama of last weekend, I'm happy for him. He deserves it and was quick all weekend and has done a very good job."
Button, still chasing his first win after 101 starts, was delighted to be on the front row after struggling with the set-up in Friday practice.
"This is great for us," he said. "We didn't expect front row until the first session when the car came alive. The team turned the car around overnight."
The Briton lapped in 1:33.98 just ahead of Williams rookie Nico Rosberg, who continued the impressive start to his Formula One career with the third fastest lap.
"I'm really pleased," said Rosberg, who set the fastest lap and scored points with seventh place on his debut last week. "Third is really special for me.
"It's not easy at all but I just fit into the team very well and I think we'll have an edge in the race."
Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher was next quickest for Ferrari but has replaced his engine and loses 10 places on the grid as a result.
Australian Mark Webber will therefore line up alongside Rosberg in an all-Williams second row with the McLarens of Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen behind.
Alonso, who won in Bahrain, will line up alongside Red Bull's Christian Klein.
"We have a little bit of a different strategy between Fernando and Fisico and Fernando had some electrical problem as well," said Briatore. "Now we are checking, I'm sure it's not the engine but we are checking. It's not so bad."
His caution was understandable given that four drivers have changed their engines so far at the hot and humid circuit.
Ralf Schumacher pulled over on the start-finish straight six minutes into the second session with his engine in flames to continue a miserable start start to the season for Toyota.
Coulthard, Barrichello, Toyota driver Jarno Trulli, BMW's Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld as well as Ferrari's Felipe Massa all went out of the reckoning in the second 15-minute session of the new qualifying format.
The first session went to form with backmarkers Toro Rosso, Midland and Super Aguri providing the six drivers eliminated.
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