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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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

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

  1. Electrolite said on 10th April 2011, 16:04

    Good race, slightly better than Melbourne in my opinion, great to see another Renault podium. I honestly think they are 4th best at the moment and closer to Ferrari than Mercedes are to themselves.

    I notice there’s been a few negative responses to the DRS on the site this time round. But personally I think we should still hold out and see. We’ve had Melbourne – one of the least DRS effective tracks and then Malaysia – one of the most effective.

  2. strunk27 said on 10th April 2011, 18:10

    I have a quick DRS question if someone could clear it up. If three cars are all traveling within a second of each other who gets to use th wing? The back two or the last car only?

  3. Welshief1 said on 10th April 2011, 23:23

    All I can say us well done Jenson great race, get qualifying sorted out and then beat the pants off vettel

  4. Robert said on 11th April 2011, 2:35

    Me and my mates are finding it hard to stay awake watching F1 these days. Wacky races style overtaking gimmicks and endless talk about rubber. Duller than a wet weekend in Wales.

    • Welsief1 said on 11th April 2011, 9:26

      Robert, it must have been a while since you were last in Wales, nothing dull about it whatever the weather,

  5. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 11th April 2011, 3:41

    Fascinating race after a very long time we have seen such a action packed dry race on a Tilke track, I do wonder whether we have had ever seen any?

    Great start by the Renault driver,many have underestimated Heidfeld but he proved that he is a good racer today.Petrov mistake was his own making as he should have had backed off & joined the track instead to trying to go full throttle. Penalties weren’t justified.

    Bad race for Schumacher, he lost to Kobayashi who did had a good race.

    One thing is that we have seen many overtaking today but many of those been failed to pick up live by the TV coverage people, it was disappointing they need to work on that. So lets go to China for another great race.

  6. DavidS (@davids) said on 11th April 2011, 8:59

    Did anyone notice how ridiculous the “top” McLaren made Jenson wear was. They might have been getting away with that in the press conference when they had a desk, but without that desk you can clearly see its a top made specifically for the press conference, not helped by it being blindingly white.

  7. Daniel said on 11th April 2011, 11:14

    Yeah. Not a surprise for me to see a RedBull winning again though it was a good race. And I suspect Vettel’s series won’t end soon. Good to see again a Renault ahead of a Ferrari. It’s pretty obvious how this season will evolve. RedBull and McLaren are untouchable, then Ferrari and Renault will have their fight, and then Sauber, Mercedes, and then the rest of the teams.

    • Leeh said on 11th April 2011, 15:07

      Heard rumours that Red Bull won’t be running Kers in China and with china having the longest straight i believe there could be an upset. I also can’t see Ferrari being so far behind for too much longer.

      I really hope that Finger Wagger doesn’t take the championship this year

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