Ice cool Vettel dominates in the Malaysian heat

Posted on April 10, 2011

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Sebastian Vettel has won an intriguing, fast paced Malaysian Grand Prix with a second dominant display of 2o11.

Vettel kept his head cool in the heat of Malaysia for another dominant win. Credit: Red Bull/Getty

The world champion had complete control all afternoon in Sepang, managing his tyres and pace among the heat and humidity to ensure his rivals never got close.

The expected monsoon never arrived to upset the apple cart, leaving the race in the hands of the strategists. Vettel stopped one fewer time than team mate Mark Webber, who finished fourth – a sterling effort. It was a masterful effort from the Red Bull pit wall and their man was never in danger.

Jenson Button put in a fantastic drive to take second place for McLaren, starting fourth, after a calm and patient drive. On occasions his pace was electric and he grabbed the opportunity to pass team mate Lewis Hamilton around the third stop. Hamilton was forced into a final fourth pit stop just four laps from the end, dumping him back to seventh. The 2008 champion looked gutted at the finish.

The podium was completed by Nick Heidfeld who redeemed himself for a poor showing in Australia with an outstanding drive. At the start, he dove past the McLarens to seize second place, only to lose places through a bad pit stop. But the German, standing in for the injured Robert Kubica, battled his way back through the field to put the Lotus Renault on the podium for the second successive race. Heidfeld put a classy, albeit DRS assisted move, late on Hamilton to take the third place.

The Renault performance, until Vitaly Petrov got himself in a bizarre accident which smashed his steering column, underlined Ferrari’s problems. The team has the fourth fastest car in race pace and a frustrated Fernando Alonso damaged his rear wing with a misjudged lunge at Hamilton on lap 46. The pair had been duelling and the Spaniard came off worse.

Further down the field, Scot Paul Di Resta had another great day. Finishing 10th, he has beaten his team mate all weekend and now scored in his first two races for Force India.

Michael Schumacher had an ok drive for Mercedes, getting ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg at the start and finishing ninth, from an 11th slot. The seven time champion was involved in fights all afternoon and was mugged by the superb Kamui Kobayashi on lap 28. Mercedes have serious car issues at the moment – they are well behind Renault and Ferrari and are squabbling with Force India and Sauber for pace.

We will leave Malaysia clear that the Red Bull remains the quickest car – though by much less than we might have thought. For most of the race, neither Red Bull had access to KERS but they both got stronger as the race went on. The RB7 is a remarkable machine while Adrian Newey’s team will continue to develop.

But McLaren are very much in the hunt and Button is clearly the better driver when tyre wear is particularly high. Hamilton just could not manage his harder tyres to the end, while Button looked comfortable. Hamilton looked miserable when interviewed on television at the end – he must know this is a big problem, particularly at these hot flyaway races.

Red Bull go to China ahead but they’ll be less comfortable than after Melbourne. They will have to get the KERS working properly at some point.

PROVISIONAL RESULTS:

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 56 Winner 1 25
2 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 56 +3.2 secs 4 18
3 9 Nick Heidfeld Renault 56 +25.0 secs 6 15
4 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 56 +26.3 secs 3 12
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +36.9 secs 7 10
6 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 56 +37.2 secs 5 8
7 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 56 +49.9 secs 2 6
8 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 56 +66.4 secs 10 4
9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 56 +84.8 secs 11 2
10 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 56 +91.5 secs 14 1
11 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 Lap 17
12 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +1 Lap 9
13 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari +1 Lap 12
14 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari +1 Lap 13
15 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault +1 Lap 19
16 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth +2 Lap 21
17 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault +4 Lap 8
Ret 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth +10 Lap 23
Ret 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth +14 Lap 22
Ret 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault +25 Laps 20
Ret 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari +33 Laps 16
Ret 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth +34 Laps 15
Ret 22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth +42 Laps 24
Ret 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth +48 Laps 18

 

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Posted in: Formula One, Race