Grand Prix 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The first race of the season has just finished and what a race it was. Exciting from start to finish. Nice battles. Three World Champions on the podium. And the good thing is, there is another Grand Prix in just seven days time in Malaysia!

Having won in Melbourne, Kimi Räikkönen will go into the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix leading the World Driver's Championship. His Lotus car looked as though it was treating the new Pirelli tyres better than any other car/driver-combination, managing to win the race with only two stops. Can they keep this good initial form up?

Red Bulls pace didn't look too frightening in Melbourne. Mark Webbers race was ruined by his (usual) bad start, which apparently was caused by a software issue. Sebastian Vettel finished third. Let's see if they'll be able to fight for the win in Malaysia, where temperatures should be significantly higher than in Australia.

McLaren had a poor race (as expected). Jenson Button just finishing within the points. Sergio Perez' terrible qualifying led to him finishing just outside the points. Jenson sounded pretty pessimistic after the race about short term improvements. So we shouldn't expect a strong performance from them in Malaysia. But one never knows.

Mercedes had a pretty good start to the 2013 F1 season. Even though Nico Rosberg retired in the middle of the race, Lewis Hamilton was able to qualify third and finish fifth, which in his own words was more than expected. He seemed very upbeat about the car's performance, so there is probably more to b e expected from them. Considering McLaren's early form, his switch to Mercedes seems to have worked out.

Ferrari had a very strong race, leading the constructor's championship after Fernando Alonso finished second and Felipe Massa finished fourth. Alonso was strong as usual, but it was Felipe Massa who looked really impressive. After outqualifying his teammate, he was able to keep Alonso behind him for the first part of the race only losing the battle against Alonso due to a poor pit stop strategy. They're in for a pretty strong season.

In the midfield battle it was Force India who looked mightily impressive with Adrain Sutil leading the race twice and finishing seventh after his last stint was compromised by the quickly deterioating super soft tyres. Let's see if they can keep up their good form in Malaysia.
Sauber only started the race with one car as Nico Hülkenberg was unable to start due to a fuel pump problem. Esteban Gutierrez looked rather anonymous during the race. They'll be hoping for a more competetive outing in the next race.
Williams didn't look too strong with Pastor Maldonado calling the car "undriveable" and retiring after beaching his car in turn one. Rookie Valtteri Bottas finished 14th not living up to the high expectations people put on him. Let's see, if they will be able to make short term improvements for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Toro Rosso looked strong during Free Practice and parts of qualifying but only managed to finish 9th with Jean Eric Vergne. Daniel Riccardo, who told media before the race that he will have to "blow Vergne away" in order to get a shot at the Red Bull seat for 2014, retired from the race.

In the battle of the "new teams" it was Marussia who looked to have the upper hand over Caterham, with Jules Bianchi appearing to be strongest of the four backmarkers.

Can Kimi Räikkönen make it two out of two? Are McLaren going to be as poor as in Malaysia? Will Nico Rosberg come back strongly after his retirement? And most imprortantly: What about the weather?

No argument from me. I've always said Alonso is ruthless. I've also said being such a gentleman is Massa'a greatest weakness. Sad but true. In F1 it's often the difference between winning and coming second.
Qualifying result, showing the Q3 gaps:

A bit of an unrepresentative grid unfortunately, due to tyres again.

If everyone had been on new tyres for their final flying lap I have a feeling it would be a bit different.
This is just a personal observation and I may be quite wrong but I don't think so. Montezomolo is Ferrari's figurehead, Domenicali is the Team Principle, but Alonso has been providing the inspiration that's been driving the team forward. Having taken them to a heartbeat away from two world championships even the designers feel they owe him a decent car. That is why he's the teams number one driver. He hasn't just been given that status he's earned it. Of course they favor him, why wouldn't they.
teabagyokel.... I don't believe Ferrari will favor either driver this early in the season. Alonso's decision to pit early in Australia was based on self belief he would be quick enough to jump Vettel. He was and sadly Massa payed a price by being caught behind Vettel as that lap unfolded. It had nothing to do with the team favoring Alonso. It should be pointed out that the team favored Massa at the first pitstop. They pitted Massa first getting him onto fresh rubber leaving Alonso out to do one more lap on shot tyres. It doesn't appear to be convenient for anyone to have noticed that. Spoils their Alonso favoritism argument.
Kewee - I agree, I don't think Ferrari need to favour Alonso. They had plenty of time to get Massa out of the way in Melbourne and didn't, just as they didn't in Melbourne in 2010.

I'm not sure team orders are as widespread as we think; I think superior talent shines through and a lot of the accusations are designed to smear Alonso or Vettel.

Although, admittedly, I've been making the jokes about team orders on this site, so I doubt I'm helping... LOL
Food for thought before Kewee goes to bed. Lets hope the start of the race is dry. If it's hosing down they'll start it behind the safety car which would ruin the race. I think it would anyway. :yawn: :sleeping:
Force India pit (crackling) radio to Adrian Sutil........"Keep off the ###rs....
Sutil............. "Kers?"..........
Pits.............."CURBS, on the sides of the circuit" .........Keep off the curbs
Interesting to note that they are having the same problems with telemetry as they did at Melbourne.
This from the official FIA communication:

Due to continued reliability problems with the telemetry link between race control and the cars we will
again be disabling this with immediate effect. The consequences for the race will be as they were in
Melbourne, namely :

1. None of the red, yellow or blue cockpit lights will work.
2. At the start of the race DRS will be automatically enabled once each car has crossed the Line to complete two laps.
3. There will be no automatic blue flag messages on the Official Messaging System. We will do our best to give as much information from race control as we can, however, it will be even more important that teams do what they can to ensure their drivers respect blue flags.
4. If the safety car is deployed Safety Car Mode will have to be selected manually by the driver immediately after he sees either the SC light panels or SC boards being held out by marshals.
5. If the safety car is deployed a message saying “DRS DISABLED” will be displayed, we will however be unable to actually disable it. Therefore, from this point, drivers must not use DRS until the message “DRS ENABLED” is shown two laps after the safety car returns to the pits.
6. If yellow flags or lights are displayed in either DRS activation zone “DRS DISABLED” will be displayed, from this point drivers must not use DRS in that activation zone until the message “DRS ENABLED” appears.
7. In conditions of poor visibility a message saying “DRS DISABLED” may be displayed, we will however be unable to actually disable it. Therefore, from this point, drivers must not use DRS until the message “DRS ENABLED” is shown.

As these procedures are the same as Melbourne we see no necessity for a further test of the system following P3.
That was a good session wasn't it? Thought the Mercs should have came in for fresh inters like Ferrari and Red Bull, look like they had the pace to challenge for pole. As for Vettel, what a lap! He is probably the best one-lap driver I've ever seen.
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