Who was the best driver of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

Debates and polls

Start, Sepang, 2011

Start, Sepang, 2011

Who was the most impressive driver throughout the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

See below for my pick of the best drivers in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Review each driver’s race weekend in detail below and vote for who you thought was the most impressive driver.

For your consideration

Here are some of the drivers who impressed me during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend:

Sebastian Vettel – Steely stuff in qualifying to snatch back pole position from Lewis Hamilton.

Nick Heidfeld – Not knocked off his stride by his troubles in Australia or Renault’s problems in practice.

Kamui Kobayashi – Fought hard and clean as ever, and made a two-stop strategy work.

Paul di Resta – Showing up very well against his more experienced team mate.

Heikki Kovalainen – Clearly getting the most out of the T128 at the moment.

Compare all the drivers

Review what happened to each driver over the race weekend and compare their performances with their team mates using the links below:

Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber
McLaren: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa
Mercedes: Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher
Renault: Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov
Williams: Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado
Force India: Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta
Sauber: Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez
Toro Rosso: Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari
Lotus: Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen
HRT: Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi
Virgin: Timo Glock and Jerome d’Ambrosio

Vote for your driver of the weekend

Which driver impressed you the most throughout the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who was the best driver of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

  • Sebastian Vettel (16%)
  • Mark Webber (10%)
  • Lewis Hamilton (3%)
  • Jenson Button (12%)
  • Fernando Alonso (2%)
  • Felipe Massa (1%)
  • Michael Schumacher (0%)
  • Nico Rosberg (0%)
  • Nick Heidfeld (38%)
  • Vitaly Petrov (1%)
  • Rubens Barrichello (0%)
  • Pastor Maldonado (0%)
  • Adrian Sutil (0%)
  • Paul di Resta (4%)
  • Kamui Kobayashi (9%)
  • Sergio Perez (0%)
  • Sebastien Buemi (0%)
  • Jaime Alguersuari (0%)
  • Heikki Kovalainen (3%)
  • Jarno Trulli (0%)
  • Narain Karthikeyan (0%)
  • Vitantonio Liuzzi (0%)
  • Timo Glock (0%)
  • Jerome d'Ambrosio (1%)

Total Voters: 510

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Australian Grand Prix result

Sergio Perez was voted the best driver of the Australian Grand Prix weekend:

1. Sergio Perez – 36%
2. Vitaly Petrov – 32%
3. Sebastian Vettel – 12%

Rate the Race: Malaysian Grand Prix

Don’t forget to cast your vote in the ‘rate the race’ poll as well:

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix


Browse all 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

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146 comments on Who was the best driver of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

  1. jhg103 (@joshgeake) said on 12th April 2011, 8:34

    Well done Heidfeld but really all he did was get a great start and run a solid race.

    Personally I think the stars are Kobayashi, Schumacher and Webber – they really earned their points finishes with all the overtaking.

  2. McLarenFanJamm (@mclarenfanjamm) said on 12th April 2011, 8:51

    I think Heidfeld did a solid job, with a solid car. Vettel won with ease which pretty much everybody expected.

    Di Resta on the other hand achieved a finish that probably wasn’t expected of him, but Kobayashi had an exciting race with many close battles.

    Tough call and I’m clearly in the minority, but I’m going to vote for Di Resta. Only the 3rd rookie to score points finishes in his first two races, the boy deserves some credit.

  3. futureshock999 (@futureshock999) said on 12th April 2011, 8:51

    Great to see Heidfeld back – he will never be world champion material, but he has way more talent than some people that had drives last year, and he showed that on Sunday with a great performance in a car that probably did not deserve third. Kobayashi was utterly fantastic as well, showing his maturation as a driver (never expected to write those words). And lastly, Button’s stealth race into second was smart and smooth, exactly what you would expect of him.

  4. Puffy (@puffy) said on 12th April 2011, 9:07

    What I find interesting is how skewed the votes are toward the top finishers. At the time of writing this, a full 78% of the votes are distributed amongst the top 4. It just goes to show how difficult it is for drivers who are driving less competitive cars to impress. Perhaps because they get very little airtime compared to the frontrunners? Or maybe it’s simply because the top running teams snap up the most talented drivers.

    However I think looking a little down the field shows some drivers who may not have made a big splash in the race, but drove incredibly well. After all, it’s a lot easier to get a car that’s supremely quick, well balanced and with high downforce around a race track than one that may not be as easy a drive.

    That said, I think Paul Di Resta has has had a cracking start to his F1 career, out-qualifying (and arguably out-racing) his vastly experienced team mate and scoring points in the first two races is a mighty accomplishment for a rookie.

  5. topdowntoedown (@topdowntoedown) said on 12th April 2011, 9:57

    Has to be Button for me… a classic drive from him. Quietly got on with the job of getting to the end of the race in the smallest time possible.

  6. gnvour (@) said on 12th April 2011, 10:15

    Hmm, Its really difficult to say with certainty as it has been a massively competitive weekend and very close race. A lot of drivers performed really well and exceeded expectations.
    For me it could have been anyone between Vettel, Heidfeld or Button.
    But voted for Button in the end because he really beat the race by doing a good job in evaluating all variables perfectly, i.e. pit-stop strategy, tyre degradation, car setup, etc and finding the right balance for him in order to come on top. Am sure this is what every driver is doing during racing, but he did it brilliantly by coming from behind and surprising a few people with his podium finish.

  7. GameR_K (@gamer_k) said on 12th April 2011, 10:21

    Sebastian got my vote but I was tempted to go for either Nick or Mark. Nick might have nicked in Sepang alone, but we are yet to ascertain his consistency. As for Mark it was a brilliant drive with the best moment of the race, the overtaking maneuver on Massa (Apart from the Lewis and Buemi mugging Schumacher – When was the last time we saw 3 cars side by side and it wasn’t even a crash). As for Vettel, you can’t blame him for people around him not challenging him. This was the most exciting race in a very long time, considering the main action was in the midfield, but still enthralling.

    • sam3110 (@sam3110) said on 12th April 2011, 11:34

      Mugged Schumacher, as he drove into the pits? he had to back off as the dive into the pitlane takes a completely different route into the final corner, and if he didn’t back off there would have been a horrific 3 car crash at about 180 mph, no-one wants to see that

      • GameR_K (@gamer_k) said on 12th April 2011, 13:11

        Schumacher got mugged before he made it into the pits, he did dive into the pits, but that was an afterthought scenario. Of course there would be a crash if there are 2 cars on either side of you and you keep your foot on the throttle. Who says people don’t watch crashes? Did you close your eyes during Abu Dhabi 20101 – Lap1?

        • gnvour (@) said on 12th April 2011, 16:04

          So you think that Mercedes changed their strategy 150m before Schumacher was in the pit lane entrance because Buemi passed him? Interesting..

          Well I suppose it does makes more sense than the comments that Schumacher was kept out in the track 2/3 laps longer than what he was supposed to while Mercedes was praying for rain in the pit wall.

  8. graigchq said on 12th April 2011, 11:13

    Button. Had it not been for Heidfeld holding up Lewis and letting Vettel get away at the start he would have won the race

  9. smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 12th April 2011, 11:50

    for me its paul di rasta just his second race

    • MW (@) said on 12th April 2011, 13:25

      “Paul Di Rasta Mon”! I like it Smokinjoe :)

      For me it was Vettel, just because we expect him to be flawless doesn’t make it less impressive.. complete dominance.. Having said that, I’d like to see him battle it out without crashing into them.

      He’ll have to let them passed before that happens…

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 12th April 2011, 13:32

    A close one for me this decision…

    Heidfeld had a great weekend and worked hard for it, he kept his head down and just got on with it. Given the minimal running they had on Friday that’s a good achievement.

    I was also thinking Di Resta. His result should not be over-looked and is only made sweeter by the fact he beat Sutil again.

    But in the end I went for Heidfeld :)

  11. smithyF1 (@smithyf1) said on 12th April 2011, 14:40

    What a great drive from Kobayashi. He got my vote. Obviously Heidfeld was very solid too but there is just something about Kobayashi that I admire. I’d like to see him given a chance in one of the big teams over the next few years, maybe as a Massa replacement at Ferrari?

  12. Himmat S. said on 12th April 2011, 14:47

    Heikki gets me vote. He squeezed out every last bit from the TL128. Methinks if he stays at Lotus for a couple more years, they could forge a brilliant combination similar to the Schumacher-Ferrari era. Go Heikki!

  13. KOBAYASHI all the way for me, an amazing battle with Schumacher and at times “showing him how its done” with some truely stunning overtaking moves, a fantastic driver to watch. Such skill and commitment is inspiring.

    Di Resta had a great weekend, the lad shows a lot of promise in a car that is a bit off pace.

    Vettel dominated again but I think the McLarens were outwitted on strategy and used up too many tyres in quali ALA HAMILTON.

    Cant wait for the weekend again now, China usually throws one or surprises.

  14. sharmin. (@spartle) said on 12th April 2011, 22:02

    Don’t think Vettel has won any of these polls, whether he was the best driver or not. It’s always the excuse of “he had the best car”. Don’t think that can be said for this race though, my vote goes to him.

  15. Muriel Smith said on 13th April 2011, 18:16

    ALONSO WAS UNDOUBTEDLY THE BEST DRIVER OF THE SEPANG GP because:

    with regard to who was at fault in the Alonso v Hamilton coming together on lap 46 of the Sepang GP … clearly Martin Brundle and David Coulthard at the time of the ‘collision’ (and shortly after) were being totally premature in their hasty assumption that (and I quote): … ‘it was all Alonso’s fault’ … ‘it was a misjudgement by Alonso’ … ‘yes Alonso has to take 100% responsibility for that’ … when in fact the rear overhead camera at the time of the ‘collision’ (as opposed to all the other camera angles that they were subsequently shown and analysed?) reveals quite clearly that:

    Alonso was still hot on Hamilton’s tail and determined to get past him as they both rounded that final sweeping bend … Hamilton brushes against the chevrons on the left of the (very broad) track and then immediately swings out widely to his right to block Alonso from passing … when the same footage is studied in slow-motion we can see that Alonso is closing in and positioning himself just fractionally behind and to the right of the McLaren so that he can pick up the slipstream and make his move on this long clear strait (bearing in mind that his DRS is not functioning?) … then at the crucial moment as Alonso turns sharply to his right to fly past the McLaren we can also discern that Hamilton is simultaneously veering across Alonso’s path??

    Let me spell that out again … Hamilton’s car is on the edge of the chevrons as Alonso is right up behind him (but not on the chevrons) … as Alonso turns out sharply to the right the McLaren is already half-a-car-width to the right of the chevrons … a split-second later as the debris from Alonso’s wing is still airborne Hamilton’s car is a full-car-width away from the chevrons … then two-car-widths … this is irrefutable proof that Hamilton swung out in front of Alonso knowing that he was about to pass him and it is this totally indefensible move to the right by Hamilton that resulted in Alonso’s left front wing clipping H’s right rear tyre (and let’s not forget that Brundle had assured us just prior to the ‘collision’ that Hamilton had been really struggling on this last set of tyres and had another 10 laps to go on them, etc?).

    Obviously Hamilton was not prepared to give way or yield to Alonso and certainly wasn’t going to let him finally succeed (after a full two minutes of trying) in sublimely and spectacularly overtaking him to steam ahead towards the 3rd podium … he would rather risk Alonso running into the back of him and the Ferrari leaving the ground and launching itself into the air (he must have known just how dangerous it could have been for Alonso) … yes it needs to be said again … it’s Lewis Hamilton who is undoubtedly guilty of ‘causing that particular avoidable collision’ and of ‘making more than one move to defend his position’ (aka ‘weaving’) … in my opinion not only should he have been penalised for both offences (and Alonso completely exonerated from any blame) but in addition Hamilton should have been severely reprimanded by the stewards and penalised for ‘dangerous driving’?!?

    Hamilton cannot say in his defence that he didn’t know where Alonso was because he would have seen in his right mirror that the Ferrari was only a hair’s breadth behind him and a fraction to his right (and more importantly TRAVELLING A LOT FASTER THAN HIM BECAUSE OF THE SLIPSTREAM?!?).

    Further proof (again in my estimation) of Hamilton’s culpability is that it was glaringly obvious in his post-race interview with Lee Mckenzie that either Hamilton himself or ‘someone’ had specifically instructed her not to ask him about the HvA incident or who he thought was to blame for the ‘collision’, etc … Hamilton isn’t very good at hiding his emotions and his body language/facial expressions and hesitancy all spoke palpable reams … he actually couldn’t speak to Lee for a full three seconds at first and was visibly distressed and struggling to say ‘something’ … until Ms Mckenzie then asked him ‘how disappointed are you?’ to which he seemed relieved that it wasn’t the dreaded question???

    Still his speech was stilted and there were long pauses and looking down at the floor before Hamilton answered ‘I don’t want to want to talk about it really’ … he then managed to compose himself after biting his lip … lots of umming and erring and a couple of forced smiles for the camera … then of course we had to listen to his usual batch of excuses to explain why his race was so lousy … sorry but Hamilton looked and acted as guilty as hell and obviously hadn’t had a chance to be briefed/primed about what to say by his ‘team’.

    In complete contrast when Ms Mckenzie spoke to Alonso his body language was at the opposite extreme to Hamilton’s … she asked him straight off to talk about the little hit he had with Hamilton and he was quite calm and at ease when he answered her … there was just a shrug of his shoulders and a hint of disappointment in his voice when he explained how they had touched and as a result he had to pit for a new wing which maybe had cost him the podium (all this was said by him without any vestige of blame) … he continued to inform her that he was pleased and surprised with the improvement in the car from Australia and will try again in China, etc.

    Please note that:
    1) The first part of Hamilton’s post-race interview where he was conspicuously looking anxious/sheepish and tongue-tied was edited out for the BBC’s afternoon race re-run (and the 7pm highlights) and Alonso’s interview wasn’t shown at all (lest perhaps people should spot the distinct difference in their body languages’ and demeanours’ and realise the truth??).

    2) McLaren’s Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh was not interviewed to give his opinions on either of his drivers’ races (an inexplicable omission considering that Button came 2nd?) … this omission only serves to strengthen my argument.

    3) As I predicted (and Sepang is only the second race of the season) … the pairing of Martin Brundle and David Coulthard in the commentary box would result in Coulthard agreeing with most of what Brundle says and both of them continuing to cover-up/disguise/gloss-over and make light of any ‘mistakes’ made by Hamilton … but conversely jump on anything that Alonso might do that can be construed as (and I quote): … ‘the two-times world champion making a schoolboy error’, etc??

    STUDY AND SCRUTINISE THE EVIDENCE PEOPLE BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR HASTY AND HARMFUL JUDGEMENTS because you probably made it more difficult for the stewards to totally disagree with what you both had so emphatically stated about Alonso being 100% at fault and that Hamilton was just driving along minding his own business, etc! Clearly Mssrs Brundle and Coulthard have vested interests in still trying to portray Hamilton as being the great/fantastic/skilful driver that in fact he never was (or ever has been?) … and of course they continue to (albeit more stealthily nowadays) minimise and under-rate Alonso’s achievements, ie: when Red Bull’s Webber and Renault’s Heidfeld overtook another car in Sepang their moves were described as ‘beautiful’ … no such superlative would ever be used for Alonso because it would literally get stuck in their throats … their glee and euphoria when Alonso had to pit for his new wing was palpable?!?

    4) I’ve said it from day one of the 2007 season and my opinion of Hamilton hasn’t changed much since then … he is a harebrained young man and always has been a second-rate/mediocre/immature and reckless F1 driver and he will remain so mainly because he has invariably been positioned on pole or put (yes put?) on the front row at the start of most races … in Australia it worked out brilliantly for him (as indeed in numerous other races over the last four years) … but when he’s not up front (and sometimes even when he is?) … he usually makes at least one cringe-worthy mistake somewhere during the race which his team and certain others are quick to minimise and brush aside!

    I will rest my case for now and wait to see what surprises/plans/ploys have been contrived and hatched for the Chinese GP on Sunday!

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