Fernando Alonso has won the Malaysian Grand Prix after a thrilling race in challenging, uncertain conditions. The Grand Prix had been stopped for 40 minutes after a deluge of rain, and provided drivers with immense difficulty upon the restart, with poor visibility and a still soaked circuit.
Sergio Perez claimed a fabulous second place, and will be disappointed that he didn’t get a maiden victory after proving to be much faster than Alonso in the closing laps, before making a costly mistake. Lewis Hamilton was solid in third, whilst last week’s winner, Jenson Button, collided with an HRT and spent the rest of his race scrabbling around in the midfield.
Red Bull were once again short of the top contenders, with Vettel also colliding with an HRT and eventually finishing outside of the points whilst Webber came home fourth.
There was another great showing by a resurgent Williams team, with Bruno Senna racing strongly to claim 6th. Pastor Maldonado was also destined for a points finish before an engine problem retired him. Mercedes drifted badly and were classified in the midfield, Michael Schumacher gaining a solitary point thanks to Maldonado and Vettel’s problems.
A flash in the pan it may be, but Ferrari will be overjoyed with this result. After taking a hammering from the Italian media and being written off in all quarters after their comparably horrendous start to the season, they have gained themselves some much-needed favour and time.
It transpires that both McLaren’s were forced to save fuel from as early as Lap 8 during today’s Australian Grand Prix. This would explain a message from Jenson Button’s engineer where the Frome-born driver was reassured that their engine was not turned up to its highest level, and he would therefore be in a strong position to defend from Sebastian Vettel.
This admission from Martin Whitmarsh will send groans throughout all at Milton Keynes, in the Red Bull factory, as despite this ‘slower’ pace set by the Silver Arrows, the fastest lap was set by Jenson Button towards the end of the race when fuel levels would have been critical. Lewis Hamilton was also comfortable in racing the Red Bulls.
As we head to Malaysia for next weekend’s Grand Prix, this nugget of information may well have just given us a good indicator of the result, weather and reliability withstanding. Bluffing or even more competitive than we thought?
Reports in German media today suggest that the Mercedes W03, piloted by Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg, will infact prove to be the class of the field come Sunday. A pretty bold statement, considering the murky picture that testing threw up.
Not so for the likes of Bild, who suggest that upon analysis of long-run testing times, the Silver Arrows were faster than Red Bull and were followed by Sauber. This, despite complaints that the car was heavy on its tyres (perhaps a sign of an exhaust system that isn’t entirely optimised yet). The Mercedes certainly has improved, as evidenced by consistent, if not spectacular pace, as the German hacks have reported.
As usual, we won’t find out until Q3 on Saturday afternoon Down Under. That said, don’t be shocked to see a few minor surprises…