The Brawn GP team suffered its first bit of bad luck since making it to the start of the 2009 Formula One season when Rubens Barrichello was forced to change his gearbox on the eve of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Under regulations that state that all gearboxes must last a minimum of four full race weekends, the necessary change incurs a five-place grid penalty, ending the Brawn team's hopes of annexing the front row for the second event in as many weekends following last Saturday's qualifying success in Melbourne.
Barrichello did not appear to suffer any problems during the two Friday practice sessions, finishing fourth and sixth fastest respectively to end the day sixth overall, suggesting that the change was as much precautionary as in direct response to a failure. Reports suggest that the unit was overly stressed by Barrichello's attempts to get off the grid in Melbourne a week ago, when his car slipped into anti-stall.
Team-mate Jenson Button remains on course to chase a second successive pole for the team, although there appears to be more opposition from the likes of Ferrari, as well as Melbourne opponents Red Bull and Williams, at Sepang.