2011 Malaysia Grand Prix - Review


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Sebastian Vettel has now won 5 dry races in a row, and scored pole in the last 5 dry qualifying sessions. And he should have won in the rain in Korea too.

However, pole was not a slam-dunk for Red Bull this week. Lewis Hamilton was only a tenth of a second slower, suggesting that McLaren were back in the battle. Saturday was a good day for Hamilton, as was most of Sunday. However, his pace on primes was reprehensible for a couple of stints and he ended up in 7th. Whether or not he should have been punished for a double-weave, he shouldn't have been down there.

It was Button who did what he usually does who hence finished runner-up. He generally turns up at the front under the radar letting Lewis take the McLaren headlines. When Lewis, as usual, gets it right, he looks slower. However, his skill is that he rarely gets it wrong and comes in with good points week in, week out. And since he wasn't toiling with penalties and Ferraris this week...

Webber, meanwhile, is in need of maybe a bit of luck, but mostly a bit of confidence. He was three tenths off Vettel in qualifying, albeit with KERS failure. His start showed the future for anyone without working KERS, as he ended up in 9th at the end of lap 1 and was forced to duel with Kobayashi. All-in-all 4th was a good recovery. Vettel's KERS stopped working too; it is an issue that Red Bull will be wise to redress.

The contrast to Webber at the start was provided by Lotus-Renault yet again this week. This time it was Heidfeld who came from nowhere to pass Hamilton at turn 1, while Petrov also made position. Heidfeld took advantage of all of the dramas to finish 3rd, and was certainly this week's most improved driver. His defence against Webber at the finish was also excellent, and above all, legal...! Petrov restated his capacity for stupid errors, attempting to drive full pelt over a grass verge at the end and finishing his race with aplomb!

Ferrari qualified ahead of the black cars and were a second behind Red Bull. They looked much faster in the race though for the second race running, and it was only Alonso's mistake when he had Hamilton reeling that prevented a podium. Felipe Massa, meanwhile, will be delighted to finish ahead of Alonso! He was also much improved this week; if he's on form by the Turkish GP he could take a podium!

Sergio Perez was unimpressive in qualifying and retired in the race as Kobayashi took the limelight for Sauber. Another Q3 appearance and plenty of overtaking coupled with taking only 2 tyre stops allowed the Japanese driver to finish 7th after Hamilton's demotion. Even when Sauber don't look that fast, their tyre preservation will get them places.

Mercedes' pre-season optimism seems like a distant memory. Schumacher was beaten in a race long duel with Kobayashi, while Rosberg simply disappeared having again outqualified his team-mate. I doubt 2 points from 2 races is the aim of the silver mission.

Toro Rosso, aside from when their sidepods decide to detach themselves, remain the definition of midfield! In the race, they were the last of the midfielders, and Buemi finished ahead. Yet again, he's started the season well.

Despite qualifying behind the gold-nosed Bulls, Force India were more impressive in the race. And it was Paul di Resta who was leaving Adrian Sutil behind. The German finished 10 seconds behind his rookie team-mate; they scarcely had a chance to ask for team-orders. Another precious point for the Force.

The Malaysian Lotus team scored a famous landmark on home soil, Heikki Kovalainen finishing close to the midfield. In Q1 they looked, for the first time, like the back of the midfield rather than the front of the back. It seems that Lotus are moving in the right direction. Meanwhile, Virgin are exactly where they've always been!

HRT's qualification and closeness to the Virgins suggests their future looks brighter than the one-way lift to doom that I predicted last week. Liuzzi was unsurprisingly ahead of Karthikeyan, and both unsurprisingly did not finish.

I did not predict doom for Williams last week, but Maldonado's Q1 elimination and Barrichello's almost equally uncompetitive showing suggests that the days of Mansell and Hill will never return. Two early DNFs was hardly impressive either. It seems that today, even the great Williams team is out of its depth. Brabham, Lotus and Tyrell all died an agonising slow death; I hope Williams are not heading that way, but I do fear for them.
Great article TBY :thumbsup: I wonder if Mercedes are regretting their decision to 'go it alone' so to speak.
To be fair to Lewis, he only had 2 sets of option tyres for the race, was hampered by a 6.9 second pit stop and was caught by Mark Webber who was on his third set of options and a 4 stop strategy.

Autosport reported on Monday that Lewis had overshot his mark for this third pit stop which led to the front wheel man having to reposition himself. However they make no mention of it in their Complete Malaysian GP Review. I am not at all sure that Lewis did overshoot. Does anyone have any evidence of what actually happened?
Autosport reported on Monday that Lewis had overshot his mark for this third pit stop which led to the front wheel man having to reposition himself.

I question that.

Teddy Kravitz was right on the scene and he made no mention of it immediately after the stop. The only thing he talked about was the left front wheel issues. (His report can be found in the Overtaking Summary)

edit - removed blocked link
I might have to apologise to Autosport actually. :embarrassed: I definitely read it in an article after the GP and was sure it was Autosport because I've been reading little else since I took up a subscription. But I can't find any trace of it now. So it might have been on another site entirely, I had better find it though so I can blacklist whoever it was that wrote that shite.
To be fair to Lewis, he only had 2 sets of option tyres for the race,
Why to be fair, it was no one elses fault that he wrecked his other set of tyres in qualifying. If he would stop flat spotting them then he could use then again..
A lucky escape there.

If the debris was able to penetrate the tub then flesh and bone would have been no match for it.
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