After the crazy Australian GP it looked for a while we may have another mad weekend in Malaysia. The rain and storm predictions however did not materialize (yet again ) and so we had an opportunity to see what the form of the teams is under normal conditions (if the usual heat and humidity in Sepang can be considered normal conditions).
The Ferraris took the most out of their front row starting positions. Raikkonen made a better start but did not look too eager to fight with Massa in the first corner. He cruised in safe distance behind his team mate. When Massa went in for his first pit stop Raikkonen picked up speed and emerged ahead of Massa after his own pit stop. From then on it was all about Ferrari cars lasting the race distance. Then on lap 31 Massa spun off the track chasing nobody and being threatened by no one. He blaimed the spin on something at the back of the car, the team did not seem to see anything wrong with the car …
Raikkonen did not make any Melbourne-like mistakes this time and went on to win his first race of 2008 season. This also means at least one Ferrari car made it to chequered flag after both their cars failed to finish in Australia.
BMW Saubers again proved they are a serious threat to Ferrari / McLaren dominance. Their race pace was no match to Ferrari, but they did no seem to be much slower than McLarens… Kubica took advantage of the first corner tussles between Trulli and Heidfeld and went on to score his best ever race result – 2nd place.
Heidfeld had solid race and spent most of the time shadowing Lewis Hamilton. He finished only 3 seconds behind him and recorded the fastest lap on the last lap of the race. Heidfeld’s move on Coulthard and Alonso early on in the race was for me the highlight of 2008 Malaysian GP. This may be sign of things to come from BMW Sauber…
McLaren drivers have only themselves or their pit wall to blame for their low grid positions. Driving in snail pace in the racing line while other cars are still on their hot laps is if nothing else stupid and very dangerous … Hamilton had better start and climbed up to 5th, Kovalainen only gained 1 position and cruised at 7th. Unfortunately for Hamilton there was Mark Webber at 4th and Webber had no intentions at all to make life easy for the McLaren driver. When it looked that Hamilton may get ahead of Webber after the Red Bull driver lost time behind Sato after first pit stop, Hamilton’s own pit stop went wrong. Problem with the front right wheel caused Hamilton about 10 seconds. When he rejoined the race he found himself not only behind Kovalainen and Trulli but Webber again too. The next round of pit stops and Massa’s retirement promoted Hamilton to 5th. He closed down on Trulli but that was all he could do today. Kovalainen had rather quiet and lonely race in 3rd. Not able to challenge Kubica but far ahead of 4th Trulli he could cruise to his first podium finish in McLaren colours.
This was not the best race for Timo Glock but a very impressive one for his Toyota team mate Jarno Trulli. Timo Glock retired early (lap 2) after colision with Nico Rosberg. Jarno Trulli did not take much advantage from his great starting position and lost few places after first corner wheel to wheel battle with Heidfeld. He however managed to recover the lost ground after problems some drivers around him experienced and brought his Toyota home in excellent 4th place. The pressure from Lewis Hamilton in closing stages of the race did not seem to trouble him much.
Mark Webber scored first points of the season for Red Bull. He spent most of the race defendig his position. First from Lewis Hamilton, then from Lewis Hamilton again and towards the end of the race from Fernando Alonso. In Australia his weekend began great ended up bad. Here in Malaysia it was the other way round. Points in the bag. David Coulthard did not shoot anybody off the track this time and finished his rather uneventful race (except perhaps the 3 way battle with Heidfeld and Alonso) in 10th place.
Renault are clearly struggling and must be very happy with the fact that they scored points in both races so far. Alonso seems to be getting more than he should out of the car, 8th place finish, sandwiched between 2 Red Bulls, is probably the best they can hope for in a race where 17 cars finish … Nelson Piquet had a quiet race but after a dismal weekend in Melbourne he can be happy with going the full race distance.
Jenson Button had a decent race and 10th is not a bad result considering where the team was about a month ago. Rubens Barrichello should however know more about how to behave while in the pitlane. At least this time he did not get himself disqaulified …
Fisichella recorded the first race finish for the Force India team and the 12th place is a decent result. It was another bad day for his team mate Adrian Sutil who had to retire after only 5 laps following mechanical problems.
Sepang was for Williams what Melbourne was for Ferrari. Poor qualifying combined with Nakajima’s penalty sentenced both cars way down the grid. Rosberg had to pit early after loosing front wing to collision with Timo Glock. His race was pretty much over before it even began. He finished 14th, a lap down. Kazuki Nakajima started the race very well and gained lots of ground climbing as high up as 13th. But a puncture and later on a trip off the track cost him lots of time and he finished the race last, 2 laps dow in 17th place.
Like in Melbourne none of the Toro Rosso cars finished the race in Sepang too. Bourdais crashed out on lap 2, Vettel’s engine expired on lap 41. Unlike in Melbourne this time the Toro Rosso package did not seem to be too competitive in race conditions, and unlike in Melbourne they scored no points.
Super Aguri, the official 2008 F1 backmarkers, are not doing too bad. Both cars finished the race and left Nakajima behind them.
And as a final note, some wise words form post race press conference from red eyed Kimi Raikkonen: ” We should put it (champagne) in the mouth, not in the eye.”
Photos: Williams/LAT, Daimler Media, BMW Motorsport