Red Bull stay ahead but KERS is still a weakness

2011 Malaysian GP race review

Red Bull won again in Sepang but two KERS failures revealed their vulnerability.

Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Qualifying position 1 3
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’34.870 (-0.309) 1’35.179
Race position 1 4
Laps 56/56 56/56
Pit stops 3 4

Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race:

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Sebastian Vettel 109.614 104.539 104.209 104.369 104.378 104.265 104.541 104.568 104.782 104.945 105.798 106.893 110.561 125.241 105.211 105.36 104.026 103.993 103.45 103.393 103.52 103.5 103.447 103.435 105.734 122.148 102.582 102.259 102.688 102.043 102.284 101.668 101.539 102.003 102.387 102.704 102.798 102.901 102.774 102.823 105.479 121.36 102.31 101.876 102.237 101.711 102.004 102.746 102.018 102.012 102.072 101.858 102.38 101.992 102.861 105.543
Mark Webber 116.366 106.656 107.142 105.651 105.887 106.843 106.738 107.346 106.181 109.035 122.007 104.27 104.184 105.599 103.961 104.57 104.431 104.835 103.872 104.511 104.341 108.908 119.513 103.351 101.6 101.642 102.307 102.295 101.981 102.332 102.939 105.969 120.064 102.232 102.5 101.423 102.135 103.514 103.125 103.22 102.867 103.048 105.367 119.397 100.736 100.571 100.789 101.091 103.57 101.76 101.111 101.228 101.405 102.481 102.488 102.831
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2011

Sebastian Vettel

At Melbourne there was speculation Red Bull were running a special Kinetic Energy Recovery System that only worked at the start.

Although it turned out not to be the case, it wasn’t far from what happened to Vettel in Malaysia. He had the vital extra boost in hand at the start but had to drive much of the race without KERS after it failed.

Fortunately for him by that time he’d already made the advantage of starting from pole position count.

It’s not clear why the stewards didn’t class Vettel’s behaviour at the start, where he clearly made two moves away from the racing line to defend his lead, as the same kind of weaving which Lewis Hamilton was given a penalty for later.

Hamilton was poised to dive down the inside when Vettel feinted right for a second time, and while Hamilton was held up Nick Heidfeld split the pair of them and inadvertently helped Vettel build an eight-second lead in the first 11 laps.

Vettel’s lead was reduced by Hamilton during the second stint but in the third stint he stretched his advantage again despite having lost his KERS.

Jenson Button took up the chase later in the race. But by this stage Vettel was managing the gap en route to his fifth win in six races and a perfect start to his championship defence.

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber

Webber’s KERS failed before the start leaving him easy prey when the red lights went out. From third on the grid he fell to tenth.

Unlike Vettel, Webber committed to ‘Plan A’ which turned out to be a four-stop strategy. A lengthy scrap with Kamui Kobayashi delayed him to begin with.

But despite no boost button and four visits to the pit lane he was able to make some progress and overtook Felipe Massa for what would become fourth place.

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix


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46 comments on Red Bull stay ahead but KERS is still a weakness

  1. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 12th April 2011, 18:44

    seems to be unnoticed, but rbr performed a 2.7 second 4-tire change (vettel, lap 26). absolutely incredible!

  2. MattHT (@mattht) said on 12th April 2011, 20:03

    Isn’t this a bit like saying you don’t think Barcelona’s football team doesn’t have very good substitutes? ;)

  3. Oliver said on 13th April 2011, 11:34

    kERS was nothing more than a minor distraction

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