DAVID Coulthard believes pit-stop strategy will settle today's Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix.
The McLaren driver lines up on the second row of the grid after qualifying fourth fastest at Sepang yesterday.
But he was not bothered about finishing behind the Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso – and said he suspected the pace-setters would need to pit early after probably qualifying with less fuel in their tank.
“We hope that their strategy will see them pit earlier than us, and I think we can have a good race tomorrow,” Coulthard said.
Coulthard, the winner in Australia two weeks ago, is reserving judgement on this season’s new-look qualifying procedure, which sees each driver take a single flying lap on a clear track.
“It’s hard to be completely satisfied with your performance, particularly in these hot conditions,” he said.
“I made no big mistakes, but I understeered a little at turn nine and the corner onto the back straight, so I was a little bit slower with the acceleration than I expected.”
Coulthard’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who impressed on his way to third in Melbourne earlier this month, had to settle for seventh fastest.
Like Coulthard, the Finn believes fuel strategy will be critical, and said the reduced testing sessions would also put a premium on reliability in extreme conditions.
“It wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t brilliant either,” Raikkonen said.
“There is not a lot of time for testing in a Grand Prix now, so we will see how everyone copes with the race distances.
“Hopefully, the people at the front are running on low fuel levels.”