Archive for the ‘Malaysia- Sepang’ Category

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Vettel Wins in Malaysia, Hamilton Steals the Show

April 4, 2010

Sebastian Vettel finally won his first Grand Prix of the season in Malaysia today, but it was Lewis Hamilton who stole the show, charging from 20th on the grid to finish 6th.

The predicted rain failed to fall and Vettel’s usual reliability problems were kept at bay, as he led teammate Mark Webber home for a Red Bull one-two.

Vettel made a charge from third on the grid, passing both Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, and Webber into turn one. Webber challenged Vettel into turn two, but Vettel kept it together and stormed into the lead.

Meanwhile, the two McLarens and two Ferraris, who started at the back of the grid after being caught out in the rain in qualifying, made their way through the field, with Hamilton making a charge from 20th to an early 12th on the first lap, and then passing a car per lap over the next four laps of the race.

While the Red Bulls headed off into the distance, leading Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica, Hamilton was left making the moves. Making eight places off the start, he went on to pass Sebastien Buemi at the start of lap two, Jaime Alguersuari on lap three, and Kamui Kobayashi on lap four.

After Hamilton made his move on Buemi on lap two, it was Felipe Massa’s turn, but the Ferrari driver lost ground, and Jenson Button was able to pile on the pressure. However, Massa was able to keep the McLaren at bay, and eventually it was  Button who lost out to Fernando Alonso.

At the end of lap five, Hamilton had Vitaly Petrov lined up, and after the Renault ran wide into turn 15, Hamilton was able to make his move, but it wasn’t for long, as Petrov reclaimed ninth from Hamilton into turn one. Hamilton made the move stick soon after, but received a warning for weaving while trying to defend his position to Petrov. Hamilton was soon on the back of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Nico Hulkenberg, but didn’t need to worry as Liuzzi slowed, retiring from the race, and Hulkenberg eventually pitted.

Button made an early pitstop on lap ten, changing his soft tyres for the harder compound, while Michael Schumacher found himself taking an early retirement with a possible wheel nut problem.

By lap 13 Vettel was leading the way, with Webber second, Rosberg third, Kubica fourth, Adrian Sutil fifth, Nico Hulkenberg sixth, and Hamilton up to seventh. Hulkenberg and Petrov pitted not long after for a fresh set of hard tyres, allowing Hamilton through to sixth. The McLaren driver then started hunting down Sutil, and eventually found himself third after Rosberg, Kubica and Sutil all pitted.

On lap 23 it was Vettel’s turn to stop for a fresh set of tyres, gifting the lead to Webber, and narrowly making it out in front of Hamilton. Webber was next to pit, but a problem with the front right wheel nut cost him a couple of seconds, allowing Hamilton into second.

Meanwhile, Button, on his new, harder set of tyres, was taking around a second per lap out of both the Ferraris and Hamilton ahead of him. Button was guaranteed to leapfrog the Ferraris when they pitted, but it was touch and go with teammate Hamilton, and following Lewis’ stop for soft tyres on lap 30, the two were side by side into the first corner. Hamilton kept it together, keeping Button behind him, and back in seventh position he began his quest to hunt down Sutil once more.

Button soon found himself defending seventh against Massa, and after a late stop, Alonso was able to catch the pair. Massa eventually made a pass stick, but Alonso was less lucky, and after running wide into turn one trying to pass Button, the Ferrari finally gave in to its downshifting problem, with Alonso retiring from the race in a puff of smoke with two laps to go.

Rain had been predicted an hour into the race, but it wasn’t to be as the race made the full distance without a single drop. Vettel kept calm to bring home the win for Red Bull, his first of the season after reliability problems plagued him in the first two rounds. Webber followed just 4.8 seconds behind in second. Rosberg took his first podium for Mercedes in third, the highest result of the season for the team. Kubica followed his impressive second in Australia with fourth today, with Sutil just behind in fifth. Hamilton stole the show, making up 14 places from 20th to sixth, with Massa also making up 14 places from 21st to seventh. Button managed to hold onto eighth, and it was Jaime Alguersuari and Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the last of the points-scorers in ninth and tenth.

Following Fernando Alonso’s retirement from the race, Felipe Massa edges ahead in the drivers’ world championship, with 39 points to Alonso and Vettel’s 37. Button and Rosberg edge closer to the lead with 35 points each, with Hamilton and Kubica just behind on 31 and 30 points respectively, with just nine points between the top seven. Despite his second-placed finish, Webber trails on 24. In the constructors’ standings, Ferrari lead with 76 points, with McLaren closing the gap to 66, and Red Bull close behind on 61.

The next race takes place in two weeks time, with qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on 17th April, and the race live on BBC1 at 8am on Sunday 18th.

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Webber Takes Malaysian Pole in Rain-Stopped Quali

April 3, 2010

Mark Webber gambled with intermediate tyres in qualifying this morning for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, a move he’ll be glad he took after he set a time over a second faster than second-placed Nico Rosberg on full wets.

Webber’s gamble came after heavy rain and standing water haulted Q3 less than three minutes in. In a move that showed grit from the Australian driver, he opted for the intermediate tyres at the restart of the session, and it ultimately scored him his first pole of the season, setting a time of 1:49.327.

All-in-all it was a qualifying session that shook up the grid this morning, as the two Ferraris and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton saw an early exit in Q1 after rain played God.

Jenson Button also saw an early departure from the soaked track, aquaplaning at turn five in Q1, having just posted a time good enough to get him into Q2. But despite the time, he was unable to make his way back to the pits, and was unable to compete further.

The rain began to fall ahead of qualifying and at the start of Q1, the majority of the drivers, which included Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica, made their way onto the track, with the Ferraris, McLarens and Mercedes gambling and playing the waiting game. The gamble very nearly paid off as the rain started to ease, and Button, along with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, was able to post a time. Button’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, wasn’t far behind and looked set to post a time good enough for Q2, but standing water in the final corner sent Hamilton into a spin, and he was unable to complete his lap. The rain then got worse, sending Button into the turn five gravel trap moments later. Hamilton was among those pitting for a set of full wet tyres, but the levels of standing water and the heavy rain meant he was unable to get a time fast enough to see him through to Q2.

It was a similar story for the Ferraris, and Fernando Alonso will start the race from 19th, ahead of Hamilton and teammate Felipe Massa in 20th and 21st respectively. The three front-runners dropping out in Q1 allowed two drivers from the new teams to go through to Q2, and with Button unable to participate in the session, and ultimately starting down in 17th, Heikki Kovalainen will start the race highest of the new teams for Lotus in 15th, with Timo Glock 16th for Virgin.

Q2 saw more of the same, and this time it was Michael Schumacher struggling in the Mercedes. He narrowly made it through to Q3, leaving Vitaly Petrov, Pedro de la Rosa, Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari in 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th respectively, ahead of Kovalainen, Glock and Button. For those who made the top ten shoot-out, Q2 saw all involved taking P1 off each other, with Sebastian Vettel fastest heading into Q3.

Q3 began and the top ten headed out onto the track, but it wasn’t to be for long, and with seven minutes and 17 seconds of the session to go, race director, Charlie Whiting, red flagged the session. It resumed not long after, and all the drivers, except Mark Webber headed out for the final time on full wets. Webber chose to gamble, heading out on intermediates. He began the restarted session over a second off the pace, but with two laps to spare, he managed to set the fastest time. Nico Rosberg followed through in second. Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica and Rubens Barrichello, who had been taking pole off each other in the dying stages before Webber set the pace, will start 3rd down to 7th respectively, with Schumacher unable to improve on eighth and with Kamui Kobayashi and Vitantonio Liuzzi in 9th and 10th.

All in all, the grid has been shaken up, but as the race is due to start at the same time of 4pm local time tomorrow, the rain is likely to shake up the standings as well.

Will the race make the distance, unlike last year? We wait to find out.

Coverage starts on BBC1 tomorrow morning at 8am, with the race starting at 9am.

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Button Rains Again

April 6, 2009

Jenson Button managed to secure his second victory in succession for Brawn-Mercedes at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday when torrential rain cut the race short.

Rain flooded the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur forcing race director Charlie Whiting to red-flag the event 24 laps early. The treacherous driving conditions caused many of the drivers to spin off the track as their extreme weather tyres drowned in rivers of monsoon rain.

Despite his poor get-away, Button put in an outstanding drive to secure his second race victory of 2009 after just 32 laps.

The race started out dry, with Nico Rosberg making a quick get-away from fourth on the grid to take an early lead, which was short-lived when Button leap-frogged both first-place Rosberg and second-place Jarno Trulli in the first round of pitstops on lap 19. Then the rain came on the 22nd lap creating an early second stop.

Perhaps the team who gambled the most were Ferrari, who put Kimi Raikkonen on full wet tyres when he pitted on lap 18, even though the track was not wet enough. The Finn lost pace and was soon being passed by the rest of the field as his tyres crumbled. Raikkonen, who had started seventh on the grid, lined up 14th behind the safety car as the race was red flagged. He soon bailed from a potential re-start and his F60 was wheeled into his garage with KERS problems. He was later seen in a pair of shorts with an ice cream, even before race control called time on the race. 

Timo Glock gained the most from the heavy downpour. Having started third on the grid he had soon found himself further down the pack. When the rest of the field came in for their full wet tyres, the Toyota driver took a gamble and opted for the intermediate tyres. The gamble paid off and soon saw him jostling with Button for the lead. The rest of the pack were soon forced to change their full wets to intermediates as the track was still too dry, just minutes before the rain got really heavy forcing them to come back in and get back on the full wets. Glock’s gamble meant he finished back where he started in third.

With blots of lightning hitting the grandstands, and cars swimming through rivers of water, the safety car was deployed and within a lap race control had suspended the race, with the drivers once again lining up on the grid to await any kind of re-start. At one point it looked like race control were going to give the go-ahead to allow the race to continue behind the safety car, allowing for the race to reach its three-quarter distance and full points to be awarded. However, failing light and poor visability meant the drivers would be unable to see to continue, and the race was abandoned.

Defending world champion, Lewis Hamilton, who started from 12th on the grid in the MP4-24, finished in seventh, scoring one world championship point. Hamilton, who had received the most media attention throughout the weekend – for all the wrong reasons – struggled for grip on the full wet tyres and had to go defensive on more than one occasion. He was one of several drivers who spun in the extreme conditions behind the safety car. The Briton’s teammate Heikki Kovalainnen once again finished his race on the first lap, after driver error saw him beached in gravel. Another early retirement came from Robert Kubica. Having barely got off the grid, he ground to a hault on the second lap.

Because the race had not reached three-quarter distance, the points scorers only received half of the points normally awarded. Button scored five points, extending his lead in the championship from 10 to 15. Nick Heidfeld, who finished lap 31 in second received 4 points, whilst Glock in third received 3. Trulli finished in fourth with 2.5 points. Button’s teammate, Rubens Barrichello who qualified fourth and received a five place grid-drop for changing his gearbox, finished in fifth with 2 points. Mark Webber was next in sixth with 1.5 points, followed by Hamilton in seventh on 1 point. Rosberg, the last of the points scorers in eighth place received 0.5 points.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who only managed to qualify in 16th, failed to score again in Malaysia, finishing in ninth. With both of the Ferraris having retired in Australia and failing to finish in the points in the second round, the Italian team have yet to start their championship campaign. Only one point better is McLaren despite finishing third in the season opener last weekend.

For Button and Brawn-Mercedes, who would’ve thought they would be on top so early on in the season. For the British team, getting both of their drivers in points-scoring positions in Malaysia is somewhat of a big success story, for the car has never been driven in the wet before. As for last year’s frontrunners, two rounds in, they have a fair bit of catching up to do if they want to be fighting for the title this season.

 

The next race is in China in two weeks time, with qualifying at 7am and the race live on BBC One at 8am on Sunday 19 April.