Formula 1 world championship leader Jenson Button maintained his perfect pole position record of 2009 after storming to a second successive top spot in qualifying ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang - but Jarno Trulli ran him close.

A brief shower half an hour before the session kicked off gave all drivers and teams a bit of a scare, but brief was all it was, whilst the lap times in practice had made for fascinating reading - with the top 13 covered by a scant eight tenths of a second.

Nico Rosberg had once more put Williams on top in FP2 and FP3; the Brawns were showing some weaknesses, with occasional smoky moments and a five-place grid penalty for Rubens Barrichello following a gearbox change; former double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso was suffering from an ear infection and admitting to not being 100 per cent fit; McLaren-Mercedes seemed to have taken a step forward with a new floor on its troubled MP4-24; and Red Bull Racing star Sebastian Vettel was facing a ten-place drop from his qualifying position after having been deemed the guilty party in his late-race collision with BMW-Sauber rival Robert Kubica in Melbourne last weekend. And as for Ferrari's Felipe Massa, well, he had taken pole in Malaysia for the past two years in succession - and he was understandably extremely keen to make it a hat-trick.

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The cars streamed out on-track as soon as the 20-minute Q1 got underway, with fears remaining that the rain may return as thunderstorms menaced the Sepang air. Only Heikki Kovalainen, Alonso - who had enjoyed minimal running over the weekend so far and had endured a number of spins during practice - and Red Bull Racing duo Mark Webber and Vettel were yet to take to the circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen threw away his first lap on soft rubber by running wide, as Rosberg - on Bridgestone's harder tyres - led team-mate Kazuki Nakajima in a Williams one-two again, before impressive Scuderia Toro Rosso rookie S?bastien Buemi spoiled their party by splitting the pair. Force India's Adrian Sutil then surprisingly leapt to the top of the order, until the young German's time was blown out of the water by a much better second attempt from Raikkonen.

Melbourne winner Button, under-fire McLaren star Lewis Hamilton, Massa and Toyota ace Trulli also rapidly showed up at the sharp end of proceedings as the times began to tumble. Webber's opening effort was good enough only for 14th as Alonso continued to play it cool in his pit garage, whilst less than halfway into the session and it was already a Brawn GP one-two.

A faster second lap from Webber lifted the Aussie up to ninth - putting practice pace-setter Rosberg on the bubble - as Alonso shot off-piste at turn nine and onto the grass, with the two Renaults down in 19th and 20th and less than eight minutes remaining on the clock. Nick Heidfeld was also in trouble as Alonso hauled himself into the top ten, as Nakajima vaulted up into second to split the Brawns, with Barrichello, Raikkonen, Kovalainen and Massa completing the leading half dozen.

Nelsinho Piquet - under pressure to drag himself to safety - set the fastest time in each of the first two sectors en route to an impressive seventh, pushing the second Toro Rosso of S?bastien Bourdais into danger along with Rosberg, Heidfeld and the Force India duo of Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella. Rosberg's next effort, though, popped the German up into second, with Timo Glock moving into fourth - before Trulli astonished the paddock with a lap time three tenths of a second quicker than anyone else to steal P1.

That flurry of changes left both BMWs in the bottom five and in very serious danger with barely two minutes remaining, with the Red Bulls in eleventh and 14th also looking precarious. Vettel slotted into third, but Webber demoted his team-mate a spot as he stormed into second just moments later, with Alonso and Hamilton now approaching the bubble.

As a late effort from Barrichello earned the Brazilian the honour of top spot, all eyes were on the action further down the order, as Fisichella moved up to 13th, leaving both Hamilton and Alonso right on the edge. Bourdais hoisting himself up to tenth was enough to push Alonso out, though the Spaniard saved himself only moments later, with Hamilton, Heidfeld and Kubica all doing likewise. The biggest surprise of all, though, was that Massa was out - Ferrari having made a fatal error in waiting confidently in the pits, when it turned out that there was not as much as they had believed to be confident about. As own goals go, it was one of inexcusable proportions.

That meant that Massa, Piquet, Fisichella, Sutil and Buemi - whose strong final effort had been ruined by a trip into the gravel trap - constituted the bottom five, as Barrichello led Trulli, Glock, Vettel, Kovalainen, Webber, early pace-setter Button, Rosberg, Heidfeld and Kubica up in the top ten.

Ferrari's day began to unfold even further in Q2, as Raikkonen again went off on his first attempt, whilst Button led Heidfeld and Kubica at the head of the order. A poor exit from the final corner failed to halt Trulli's charge as the Italian once more leapt to the top of the timing screens, with Barrichello slotting into second and Raikkonen's second lap being quick enough only for fifth. A second effort from Button - the only driver out on-track on the harder set of rubber - was similarly unable to dislodge the incredible Trulli, as Vettel had a go too and McLaren pairing Hamilton and Kovalainen barely crept into the top ten...though even that barely lasted for long.

Raikkonen and Kovalainen headed out earliest of all for their second runs. The latter's lap was not enough to haul him back up into the Q3 running, though his countryman placed sixth, pushing Alonso and Hamilton once again onto the bubble, with just seven tenths blanketing the entire top ten. Kovalainen, Kubica, Nakajima, Glock and Bourdais constituted the bottom five with just over a minute left to run, as Button stole to the top of the order by the best part of half a second to underline Brawn GP's stunning raw pace.

Glock's attempt was good enough for sixth, pushing Hamilton out of the top ten. Bourdais failed to improve as Rosberg consolidated eighth and Kubica just snuck through into ninth, but that pushed Alonso out and left Heidfeld on the bubble. Those positions would reverse following a better final effort from the Spaniard, ultimately ditching Heidfeld, Nakajima, Hamilton, Kovalainen and Bourdais.

Up front, meanwhile, it was the Jenson Button show yet again, with Trulli closing the gap to just over two tenths at the chequered flag and Webber, Glock, Vettel, Barrichello, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Kubica and Alonso similarly progressing on to the top ten shoot-out.

Raikkonen once more headed out earliest of all in Q3 as Ferrari continued to lick their wounds from the mistake made with the sister scarlet machine of Massa. Button and Rosberg traded blows on their first laps, before Trulli blasted Barrichello's initial effort away by some four tenths of a second - at least until Button went a further two tenths quicker still.

Vettel slotted into second with Webber fourth as Glock - seemingly lacking his team-mate's dynamite pace - went sixth, before Trulli shaved another four thousandths of a second off Button's first marker on a second flying lap on the soft rubber to nick pole position away.

Raikkonen finally appeared to have found some pace on his final run - even if he dropped four tenths in the middle sector - as Alonso forewent the end of the session. Barrichello was on a hot lap as Raikkonen moved up to fourth, but Button was even faster still as the Brawns stormed to the top. Barrichello went quickest with Kubica stealing fifth, before Button decimated his team-mate's marker by almost half a second.

Webber took fourth on his final lap before Rosberg moved up to third and countryman Vettel subsequently displaced him for second, but all eyes were on Trulli, who went fastest of all in the middle sector - but at the line came up just under a tenth of a second short.

That secured Button's second pole position in succession, with the Toyotas annexing second and third following the respective penalties handed out to Vettel and Barrichello. Fourth place fell to Rosberg, ahead of Webber in fifth, Kubica promoted to sixth, Raikkonen elevated to seventh, Barrichello demoted to eighth, Alonso ninth and Heidfeld boosted back into the top ten, as Vettel's ten-place penalty dropped him back from third to 13th.

Prior to this weekend Jenson Button had never secured two F1 pole positions in a row - but he has now. All that remains is for him to make it back-to-back victories in 24 hours' time too...

To see the qualifying times in full, click here