Alonso’s mega-start and Button’s killer laps (Malaysian Grand Prix analysis)

Fernando Alonso passed six cars on lap one

Fernando Alonso passed six cars on lap one

Here’s a closer look at some of the outstanding moments of the Malaysian Grand Prix: Fernando Alonso’s incredible getaway, Jenson Button’s race-winning pace, and Timo Glock’s inspired switch to intermediate tyres.

Lap 1: Alonso’s terrific start

Malaysian Grand Prix position change on lap 1 (click to enlarge)

Malaysian Grand Prix position change on lap 1 (click to enlarge)

Fernando Alonso blasted his Renault R29 off the start line with indecent speed given its truck-like appearance and handling. He actually made up six places at the start, rising from ninth to third. But he was re-passed by Jenson Button half way around lap one, knocking him back to a still-impressive fourth.

That pass by Button turned out to be absolutely crucial to the Brawn driver’s hopes of victory. Team mate Rubens Barrichello was stuck behind Alonso for an extra couple of laps, and the extra time it cost him meant he had no chance to use his longer first stint to jump into the lead.

Lap 18: The real speed of the BGP001

Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg (click to enlarge)

Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli and Nico Rosberg (click to enlarge)

Was this the first time this season Jenson Button unleashed the full potential of Brawn’s BGP001? Stuck in third place behind Jarno trulli, but in sight of leader Nico Rosberg, he was content to lap away in the mid-37s. Once the cars in front of him had pitted on lap 18 unleashed a fastest lap a full second quicker than his pace up to that point.

His in-lap (19) was similarly rapid – a second quicker than Rosberg’s and 1.5 faster than Trulli’s. Job done.

Laps 26-30: Glock’s perfect gamble

Timo Glock on intermediate tyres (click to enlarge)

Timo Glock on intermediate tyres (click to enlarge)

Having lost out badly at the start of the race (see above), Timo Glock brought himself back into play by gambling on intermediate tyres when the rain first began to fall.

At one stage he was cutting up to ten seconds per laps out of the leaders. While the rest hastily followed him onto the shallower-grooved tyres the weather began to turn – and the canny Glock got himself onto full wet tyres at exactly the right time.

The race result was eventually declared based on the standings on lap 31 – hard luck for Glock, who’d passed Nick Heidfeld for second on the ‘phantom’ 32nd lap.

Full race history and lap charts

Malaysian Grand Prix race history (click to enlarge)

Malaysian Grand Prix race history (click to enlarge)

2009 Malaysian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

2009 Malaysian Grand Prix lap chart (click to enlarge)

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37 comments on Alonso’s mega-start and Button’s killer laps (Malaysian Grand Prix analysis)

  1. Owen said on 7th April 2009, 20:24

    What is the update on engines? I think I heard that McLaren were the only team not to use a new one at Malaysia. Is this correct?

    At this rate Kova will only need one or two for the whole season.

  2. Mahir C said on 7th April 2009, 23:02

    Looking back to the start of Alonso, it wasnt his getaway from startline that pushed him up the grid. He saw a great gap on the inside took 3 or 4 cars into the first corner.(then overtook Button on turn 2) It was very classy stuff.

  3. hihialan said on 7th April 2009, 23:32

    fabulous
    now i can spend my spare time checking on stats
    great post!

  4. F1Yankee said on 8th April 2009, 0:52

    thanks for putting this piece together. well done, too. i think the numbers within sports are absolutely fascinating.

    Fernando Alonso blasted his Renault R29 off the start line with indecent speed given its truck-like appearance and handling.

    that made me :D

    does anyone know what the purpose of counting back to the penultimate complete lap is? to me, the last complete lap would be the intuitive thing to do. i guess it does serve at least one purpose – maximum motivation.

  5. Jay Menon said on 8th April 2009, 2:23

    I was hoping Alonso will be in a good car this season, turns out they’re worse off than they were last season. Not only does the car look like a truck, it drives like one too. Hopefully they’ll be able to run some new bits cone the next race.

    Alonso was not happy at Sepang with ear infection and all. Him wrestling the car to Q3 was an achievement enough. If Renault’s performance doesn’t pick up, Marranello may be his next port of call…maybe even Brackley? Or will that be Hinwill?

  6. I think team Brawn have genuinely got a shot at the title this season. I would never normally get so bold this early in the season but think about it. A car that has been developed fully whilst the others were busy racing last year, a team principle who is experienced at being at the sharp end,pots of cash thanks to Mr Branson and finally, a first class driver line up. I have always loved Jenson’s smooth driving style – now he’s up the front, he won’t make silly mistakes. If I was a betting man, I would put a few quid on him lifting the drivers championship 2009!

  7. Eakky said on 9th April 2009, 1:35

    How many laps the race had btw?….in graphics only show 32 race laps if is 32 so the results are wrong because the countback rules says penultimate lap will count for race results.

  8. martinb said on 9th April 2009, 20:58

    Nice graphs. I have one suggestion. Could you give the Safety Car laps a grey background. That way one can understand why the Gap to Leader drops for everyone.

  9. Hey Kieth; please show a graph of Kimi’s falling lap times after that ridiculous of putting full wets on a dry track. That way, we can know till how many laps would that gamble have been feasible.

  10. gabor said on 10th April 2009, 21:36

    great graphics! please keep making these for all the future races!

    kind regards!

  11. Magnificient article as usual Keith!

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