So then... Malaysia, I think I'm correct in saying that this is the hottest race of the year... which should be a test of the new 2 race engine rule, however there are exceptions. BAR Honda after pulling a sneaky move at the last GP are running 2 new engines (not the brightest of moves considering the next race is in the middle of a desert) and as far as I know, Heidfeld has a new power plant in the back of his Williams BMW. Schumacher has retained his Australian engine (itself a replacement) which should see him with a significant advantage over his teammate, but also those drivers with higher mileage on their engines. His use of his Australian engine also frees up the use of the F2005 from the next race at Bahrain, itself being tested this weekend at Mugello (according to the team is already 1 second a lap faster than the F2004M) much to the 9 other teams chagrin so it would seem. Australia wasn't quite the gauge of performance I suppose one might have hoped for because of the topsy-turvy grid, the result of one of the most bizarre qualifying sessions I can remember... it did however confirm what winter testing suggested, that the Renaults had about 0.5 seconds advantage over the rest of the grid, with Fisichella doing a 'Schu' with a measured drive, and Alonso fighting his way up the order and setting the fastest lap, further demonstrating the Renaults pace advantage. I was surprised at McLarens lack of pace, although Kimi was awesomely fast at the beginning of the race when he was hounding Schumacher for several laps had he not stalled it on the grid, I have no reason to doubt that he'd have been fighting for at least a podium position if not the win. Montoya had a bit of a strange one... he didn't really make any impression and certainly didn't seem to be his usual fiesty self... even Ron Dennis noted this, and passed comment, but I'm expecting that to change this weekend should normal conditions be resumed. So then... predictions for the race. Some of the weather reports I have seen have indicated that rain is likely sometime during the weekend, but hopefully that will not affect qualifying. Normally (i.e. pre this season) it'd be possible to gauge relative performance after Fridays sessions, but since the rule changes and with many teams conserving their engines, it's next to useless in using Fridays times as a performance guide... unless of course we are to presume that Sauber are now the class of the field. Qualifying Top 8 (Dry) 1. Räikkönen 2. Montoya 3. Fisichella 4. Alonso 5. Schumacher 6. Barrichello 7. Webber 8. Button Race Top 8 (Dry) 1.Räikkönen 2. Montoya 3. Fisichella 4. Alonso 5. Schumacher 6. Barrichello 7. Button 8. Webber. So then... predictions? thoughts?