Michael Schumacher has taken a new engine after the final practice session in Malaysia, ensuring that he will join Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa in having a ten-place grid penalty.

The precautionary change came after a failure in David Coulthard's Red Bull at the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and an engine change in Massa's car for Malaysia after early signs of a failure were spotted. The problem is believed to be related to cracked pistons, and had not previously been seen with the Ferrari V8.

Schumacher's engine had completed 149 laps prior to the change, which put him third in the V8 mileage list behind Takuma Sato (169) and Jarno Trulli (149), and had taken him to quickest time in the third anf inal practice session at Sepang.

Related Articles

The big question now is what strategy the Scuderia adopts, as both its cars have penalties. As noted in an earlier story, there is a good argument for not making a proper qualifying attempt and starting at the back with a heavy fuel load and engine miles and new tyres both saved.

The indications are that Massa will follow that strategy, as he was very busy in practice, suggesting that he didn't need to save laps for qualifying. A second engine change, however, emphasised all that - as well as slapping the Brazilian with a second ten-place penalty, ensuring that he would not be shooting for pole.

There's a chance that, despite the risks of getting caught amongst heavier cars in the race, Schumacher will go for pole, start eleventh, and see what he can do from there.

Honda's Rubens Barrichello also faces a similar dilemma, having been forced to swap to the team's T-car and change his engine. The Brazilian was only 15th fastest in final free practice.

David Coulthard will also take a ten-place penalty, having had to change his engine between events, leaving only Christian Klien with the same Ferrari V8 as he ran in Bahrain.