Vettel takes fourth win in a row in hectic race

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2011

Sebastian Vettel kept up his winning streak with his fourth victory in a row in Malaysia.

But Red Bull’s rivals were able to push them closer during the race and Jenson Button finished only three seconds behind.

Vettel held his lead at the start but had to defend carefully from Lewis Hamilton. That allowed Nick Heidfeld – who made an excellent start from sixth – to grab second ahead of the two McLarens.

The other Renault of Vitaly Petrov also made a good start but he couldn’t resist pressure from Felipe Massa. The Ferrari driver used DRS to pass at turn one, and Petrov went off shortly afterwards gifting sixth to Fernando Alonso.

Bad start for Webber

Mark Webber’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System failed to work at the start and he dropped like a stone, ending up in a dogfight with Kamui Kobayashi for tenth place.

After several passes and re-passes Webber instead tried to gain a strategic advantage with an early pit stop on lap ten.

The runners in front of him quickly reacted over the following laps, and Renault were unable to maintain Heidfeld’s advantage over the McLarens.

Massa suffered a slow pit stop and dropped further down the order. But Alonso left his pit stop later and came out on Button’s tail, passing the McLaren at the first corner.

The leading drivers stuck with the soft tyres for the first round of pit stops but Hamilton switched to hards for his third stint. His pace dropped off during the stint and McLaren brought him in for his third stop on lap 37 – with 19 still to go.

Alonso and Hamilton collide

His race began to unravel as a slow stop dropped him behind Button. He struggled to make his second set last – team mate Button was much quicker after his last stop – and Alonso quickly caught him for third.

While Hamilton struggled for pace Alonso’s adjustable rear wing had failed meaning he did not have the advantage of DRS Nonetheless he mounted an attack on the McLaren and was shaping up for a move down the inside of turn four when he clipped Hamilton’s right-rear tyre.

The impact smashed Alonso’s front wing and sent him into the pits for a fourth stop. Hamilton’s car appeared undamaged but he was still struggling with his tyres.

Heidfeld breezed past him using DRS on lap 51. Hamilton had an off afterwards and, despite having only four laps left, pitted a fourth and final time for more hard tyres.

Button tried to give chase of Vettel, but even though the Red Bull driver’s KERS was only working intermittently, he was easily able to maintain a gap over the McLaren.

Webber had also made a fourth stop and with fresher tyres was able to pass Massa for fourth place. The recovering Alonso took seventh.

Petrov crashes out

Hamilton came out of the pits behind Petrov but the Russian driver’s race came to an end in a bizarre incident. He ran wide off the track, bounced high into the air, and landed so hard it broke the mounting on his steering column. He came to a stop while trying in vain to re-attach the wheel.

In eighth place was the only driver to make two stops – Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber. His team mate Sergio Perez retires after hitting debris which fell off another car.

Michael Schumacher and Paul di Resta rounded off the points-scorers, the latter beating his team mate home by ten seconds.

There was little sign of the widely-anticipated rain, aside from a brief shower around the first pit stops. The race was action-packed without it, but in the end the world champion prevailed once again.

Update: Hamilton and Alonso handed penalties following Malaysian Grand Prix

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix


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56 comments on Vettel takes fourth win in a row in hectic race

  1. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 10th April 2011, 12:29

    It’s all good. I had Seb as the winner and Jens in the number 2 slot. I should have put money on that!

  2. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 10th April 2011, 12:31

    Pets steering column breaking off? Weird and scary. I think the FIA will be looking at this very closely.

    • gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 10th April 2011, 12:41

      Well, his car literaly took off… This is no normal condition for an F1. I wouldn’t be too worried about that…

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th April 2011, 13:03

        I think they’ll be paying closer attention to the outside of that run-off area. Petrov ran out of run-off and was launched into the air. The drain he hit was right up alongside the circuit. With his hands full of understeer and travelling at speed, he never would have seen it coming. I’ve seen the on-board and I could barely see the drain, so he never stood a chance.

        • zecks said on 10th April 2011, 13:16

          True but neither did he seem to lift and rejoin the circuit as soon as possible. What petrov did was madness

        • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 10th April 2011, 14:58

          I can’t believe the suspension stayed intact! Timo Glock has a similar accident in Melbourne in 2008 (although I think Petrov outdid him today) and his wheels all bounced off. If the steering wheel hadn’t have come free, he might have been able to continue! :P

        • Dipak T said on 10th April 2011, 15:00

          He may not have seen the drain, but he must have known that:

          – He was off the circuit
          – He was running out of tarmac run off

          So keeping his foot bolted down was clearly the obvious thing to do…

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 10th April 2011, 14:52

      F1 cars aren’t tractors.

      • kinz (@kinz) said on 10th April 2011, 19:40

        I think Petrov would be the first to admit that was his fault, how he thought he would drive over a large mound when an f1 car has near to zero ground clerance i’ll never know.

  3. Jungly (@jungly) said on 10th April 2011, 12:32

    Vettel’s 6th fastest lapt of the race suggests he had pace in hand. He was also able to put in some fast laps in his 3rd stint when he needed to, again confirming pace in reserve. China, however, will be a diiferent story as it is less areo critical and more of a power circuit. If Red Bull can not make their KERS reliable, they will certainly struggle!

  4. karan01 (@karan01) said on 10th April 2011, 12:34

    What happened to Maldonado? Also, anyone got a high res pic of Petrov in the air?

  5. Ads21 (@ads21) said on 10th April 2011, 12:37

    I still have my timing screens up here and just noticed something, did Kovalainen really only finish 0.4s behind Alguersuari?

    • Kimster said on 10th April 2011, 12:45

      yes

    • Kyle (@hammerheadgb) said on 10th April 2011, 12:48

      That’s correct. I spotted the Lotus right behind one of the Toro Rossos as they all came across the line at the end of the race. Good show from Kovalainen, showing that Lotus are there or there abouts in terms of tagging onto the midfield.

  6. Oliver said on 10th April 2011, 12:37

    Yawn! Tell me that win wasn’t predictable.
    Even Webber without KERS or DRS was putting in sensational lap times.
    The only consolation is that Redbull allow Webber to fight with the other teams while leaving Vettel free to discuss Dante’s Inferno with his race engineer. :-)

  7. The-Masked-Racer said on 10th April 2011, 12:38

    On-board cameras showed renault drivers pressing KERS much later( > 3rd gear ). The ferrari, on the other hand, much earlier( cud not make out gear though ), an explanation of why they lost ground. Anybody notice wheel-spin on ferrari or what gear alonso was in when he used KERS off start ?

  8. Abuelo Paul (@abuello-paul) said on 10th April 2011, 12:39

    What a great race! terrific start from the Genii warriors, the new stars in the wars… (Shame about Petrov), Alonso and Hamilton continue to battle between themselves and lose the advantage as a result. Super job by Webber and sterling performance from di Resta and a usual steady result from Jenson.
    Good result also from Massa, and Rosberg.

  9. Icthyes said on 10th April 2011, 12:49

    I made this point before but you can’t make these tyres last significantly beyond the car set-up without dropping a lot of pace. What McLaren were thinking is beyond me, though Button made the last stint work, could have been down to his differing set-up.

    It was also, I have to say, a poor choice of starting line for Hamilton. He was never going to get down the inside and lost 2nd because of it. It may have made the race pan out differently and more positively for him.

    • shakey66 said on 10th April 2011, 13:03

      ” I have to say, a poor choice of starting line for Hamilton. He was never going to get down the inside and lost 2nd because of it”. I think Hamilton was caught out by Vettel weaving down the straight. He clearly moved right to cover, then drifted left to cover again, then back right again to close out Hamilton.

    • Oliver said on 10th April 2011, 13:14

      Hamilton was blocked twice by Vettel and I have to commend his decision not to try and suddenly take a wider line in a braking zone as it is so easy to collect otherfast starting drivers arriving unseen.

  10. Bigbadderboom (@bigbadderboom) said on 10th April 2011, 12:56

    The nature of these tyres indicate that those with aggresive driving styles like Hamilton are suffering, so although i’m no tyre expert, how the hell did kung fu Koby get to the end on 2 stops with all those battles he was fighting. Maybe Sauber have unlocked some suspension tweek?

    • gnvour (@) said on 10th April 2011, 13:07

      Yes agree, pretty impressive that Sauber are able to look after their tyres so well, hope they can keep it on in the following races

    • Oliver said on 10th April 2011, 13:18

      Interesting that Hamilton’s tyres went off despite himdrivng very smoothly and also the tyres being very fresh. Kobayashi on the other hand did a 2 stop and tussled with other cars at some point.

      • Solo (@solo) said on 10th April 2011, 13:52

        As Button said sometimes trying to look after them makes things worse because you don’t heat the up right causing them to get destroyed. Considering Lewis had the mechanics going on and on in his ears about looking after the tyres(what annoying racing when you can’t race) he maybe went completely the other way and looked after them a little too much.

  11. Hamilton is now 8th after a twenty second penalty for moving more than once while defending.

  12. I really hope someone starts picking up pace and catch up with RBR. I don’t mind Webber and I really admire what they and Newey have managed to achieve so far and no doubt will achieve in the future with their technical nous and the way they’ve organised the team.

    But I have to admit I’m not particularly fond of Vettel, I’m losing respect for Horner almost every time he opens his mouth these days and I don’t like the way Helmet Marko hovers in the background. In short, RBR is definitely one of my least favourite teams and they’re bloody winning all the time! Stop it already! :p

    I’d like Sauber to drop the lower-midfield team mentality and realise they have a shot at competing without risking their results on tyre preservations pitstop strategies. I’d like Ferrari to find about half a second to 7 tenths compared to RBR and McLaren. I’d like Petrov and Heidfeld to come in together, as opposed to have one of them way down somewhere. And I’d like Williams to make their car a second a lap faster. Come on guys, get it together already :D

  13. Oliver said on 10th April 2011, 13:25

    I have to admit, Petrov’s incident was almost comical despite the extreme seriousness and danger.

  14. mingmong said on 10th April 2011, 13:32

    When is Vets ever going to win a race from not leading start to finish? All his wins have been fairly straight forward with no dog fights. His no Senna or Mansell so lets not make him out to be…

  15. Eggry (@eggry) said on 10th April 2011, 13:38

    The race was excited but now I fear Vettel dominance.

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