Vettel Unbeatable at 2011 Petronas Malaysian GP

Published on April 10th, 2011

All bets were off when Nick Heidfeld took second, ahead of dropped-out Lewis Hamilton and teammate Jensen Button, right on the get-go. Heidfeld banked on the outside of Turn 1, and managed to clip right on Sebastian Vettel’s rear, securing second.

Jensen Button was aiming for the inside lane when the Lotus Renault GP driver overtook him on the outside and started chasing after Vettel.

Heidfeld’s teammate, Vitaly Petrov, was forced to stay behind Hamilton, who was overtaken by Button earlier.

The two Lotus Renault cars took an interesting strategy by going towards the outside of Turn 1, before clipping into the traffic, avoiding the confusion altogether.

Heidfeld’s reign as second, however, did not last for all 56-laps. A pit-stop caused him to lost position and came out behind Fernando Alonso. Alonso however, had to make an extra stop to replace a damaged front wing on lap 46 after a small accident with Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. Heidfeld later overtook Hamilton with 5 laps remaining, claiming third on the podium.

Vettel’s teammate, Mark Webber, overtook Hamilton on lap 53 after Hamilton went off track.

Hamilton had to make an extra stop to be able to finish the race, and finished seventh overall.

Vitaly Petrov literally went off the ground with two laps remaining after going off track, damaging his steering column upon landing. He did not finish the race.

The weather was looking rather gloomy all afternoon, with heavy drizzling causing some excitement among the spectators.

The tyres did their job well, with extra pit stops definitely making the whole race much more challenging and fun to watch. Crowd literally went crazy whenever a car came into the pit.

Overall, Sebastian Vettel remained unbeatable for the second round of Formula One 2011 series, even with damaged KERS system from 29th lap onwards.

By the way, the race today had the same Team result with Australian GP, with RBR-Renault taking the win, followed by McLaren-Mercedes on second, and Lotus Renault GP on third. It was Vettel, Hamilton, and Petrov for Australia, Vettel, Button, and Heidfeld for Malaysia.

Vettel commented on the race during a press conference afterward. “The start was crucial. I thought it was a very good start, but then I saw Lewis lining up behind me. I was surprised going into Turn one, as all of a sudden I saw something black in my mirrors – I knew it was a Lotus. For the first stint it was a good thing to happen, as I could pull away lap by lap. The entire race was quite different to what we saw two weeks ago – it was a lot closer and there were more pit stops due to the tyres. With the stops, you don’t want to be first in, as you want to do as few stops as possible, but also you don’t want someone else to go in, get an advantage with new tyres and undercut you. It wasn’t an easy race, but in the last section Lewis had a problem and was then behind Jenson. I’m very pleased with today’s result. I love what I do and don’t think I could be happier at this stage. It’s been close here, so we need to keep cool and keep pushing, but the guys know this is the way forward, so I’m not worried. But for today we will enjoy it and be very proud.”

Jensen Button couldn’t resist the temptation of going after Vettel. He even managed a 19-lap run with his prime tyres; something other drivers never achieved at any stage during the weekend. “This has been an extremely encouraging weekend for us. It’s very satisfying to come away with a good lot of world championship points – everyone in the team has done an amazing job and we should feel very proud of ourselves. Today’s race was all about looking after the tyres. On the way to the grid, I purposely took a lot of front wing out of the car, which was a mistake because I had massive understeer for the first stint, which also hurt the rear tyres. I just got the balance wrong. So at each pit stop, I dialled in more front wing and my pace kept getting better and better. At the end, the prime tyre was really working for me. I knew Lewis had a problem in one of his pit stops and that I would be able to come out in front of him, but my pace was very good anyway. It was a great afternoon. In the closing laps, the team told me to take it easy on the tyres, but I chased down Sebastian as much as I could all the same – still, it wasn’t quite enough. We should all feel very encouraged that we have a good, strong package. I still don’t think we’re getting the best from it yet – but I hope we will in China, and that Lewis and I will both have great races.”

Heidfeld had a wonderful start by going up four positions early in the race, but was later challenged by both McLaren’s drivers and later Webber of RBR-Renault. “The start was fantastic. Good fun. In Australia I made up many positions on the start but I didn’t expect the same happening when starting from sixth rather than 18th or whatever it was in Australia. I found myself actually fighting with Sebastian who watched me in the mirror and just paced himself to keep me behind. After that I did the best I could but Sebastian was quite a bit quicker. Then in the first stint there were some drops [of rain] coming down and I called the box to say my tyres were going off and they said ‘stay out, there might be rain coming so we don’t want to do an extra pit-stop’. Then, our first pit-stop was not perfect, lost one or two positions, and after that I was a bit lucky with Fernando (Alonso) who lost his front wing or damaged his front wing and had to do an extra pit-stop. I had some good pace later on, especially on the prime tyres, similar to the McLarens probably and had to defend from Mark towards the end when he came flying by. But I think once he was behind me his tyres also started to degrade. I used my KERS just in places where I needed to defend and it is great to come third. Second podium for Lotus Renault. It is a great step forward from last season.”

Next round of Formula One series will be held in Shanghai, China on April 15-17 next weekend.

For full results, head over to Formula1.com or Sepang International Circuit website.

words & pix: Syawal Ahmad

Comments

  1. Posted by Faiznur Yazreen on April 11th, 2011, 14:10

    Beautiful pictures!

  2. Posted by Top Secret on April 11th, 2011, 18:06

    Nice Bro!!!

Reply

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