Continued from page 1

“It’s just a different strategy,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. “I don’t think we had the single lap pace to take on McLaren. In the race we elected to do something different with the two cars so we’ll see if it makes a difference tomorrow.”

Ferrari improved marginally on a dire qualifying performance in Australia, and Alonso’s renowned race craft and the possibility of showers will boost the Italian team’s hopes of a good points haul despite its technical deficit in the early part of the season. Felipe Massa qualified 12th.

All 24 cars will start Sunday’s race. The HRT cars just squeezed inside the threshold of being within seven per cent of the best time in the first qualifying session, having failed to do so in Australia.