Vettel controls Malaysia GP

Sebastian Vettel has opened his 2011 season with back-to-back victories after a comfortable pole-to-flag win at the Malaysia Grand Prix
The reigning world champion battled technical troubles, running without KERS from around mid-distance, to hold Jenson Button at bay by 3.2 seconds over the line.
‘The Grand Prix was quite different to what we’ve seen two weeks ago, especially with tyres going off,’ said the German.
‘It was quite difficult, and obviously it was tight with Lewis. It was never easy until the last stint, when Lewis had a problem. With Jenson behind, I could comfortably control the gap.’
Red Bull’s hesitance to run KERS proved telling as both of their cars experienced failures throughout the race. Mark Webber was forced to keep his switched off for the entire race.
Nick Heidfeld bounced back from his dreadful opening round in Australia to score Renault’s second consecutive podium, managing to withstand a late charge from Webber on fresher tyres.
‘The start was fantastic, good fun. I didn’t expect it to happen starting from sixth,’ said Heidfeld. ‘After that I did the best I could, but obviously Sebastian was quite a bit quicker.’
‘We had to defend from Mark [Webber] towards the end, but once he was behind me his tyres also started to degrade. I used my KERS only in the places I needed to defend.’
Despite an almost-total absence of rain, Malaysia proved exciting from the beginning. Mark Webber’s KERS fault had him fall back to tenth from the line, whilst both Renaults leapt up the grid, Heidfeld settling into second, Petrov in fourth.
Sutil met with Barrichello late on the first lap. The Force India driver managed to make it to the pits to change his nosecone at the end of that lap, whilst Barrichello had to complete his second lap with a rear tyre puncture. He fell to the back of the field before retiring at the midway point.
Kobayashi and Webber battled for ninth place as the race leader set about extending the gap between himself and Heidfeld’s Renault.
The Australian opted for a tyre change on lap 11, opening the first pit stop window. He fell further down the order into 17th place, but was gambling on a four-stop strategy to help him recover from his poor start.
The first half of the race saw Hamilton keeping in touch with Vettel, making gains on the German by lap 20. By lap 30, Vettel was instructed via radio not to use his KERS and his lead seemingly came under threat as the McLarens looked to capitalise on his unreliability.
However, even without KERS, Vettel managed to pump out a number of fastest laps, pulling away from the British pair. Worryingly for Hamilton, he was also losing time to his team-mate Button behind him, who looked far more comfortable on his prime tyres.
‘In the last stint when we put the hard tyre on, the car came alive,’ said Button.
‘It was a really confusing race, trying to understand the pit stops and whether it’s worth looking after the tyres or not. It’s very difficult to understand what to do.’
Hamilton would ultimately succumb to his tyres, being forced to make a fourth stop with three laps remaining. He would finish seventh*, the position vacated by Petrov after he ran wide and launched his car over some high kerbing. He suffered severe damage to his steering column – so much so that his steering wheel came off in his hands.
The final few laps saw a battle between Heidfeld and Webber for the final place on the podium. Webber, with slightly fresher tyres, jumped into fourth place after Hamilton’s stop, but failed to catch Heidfeld in time.
Williams scored their second double-DNF in as many races, compounding their early-season problems. Meanwhile, Mercedes had another disappointing race, Ross Brawn citing problems with their DRS system for their poor qualifying and subsequent race stability and pace.
HRT also failed to bring either of their cars home, though they will take solace in their somewhat-confident qualification after last round’s failure to make the race altogether.
Sebastian Vettel currently leads the championship standings on 50 points, 24 points ahead of Jenson Button in second, and a further two points behind Hamilton in third. Mark Webber lies in fourth on 22 points.
The world championship continues in China next Sunday.
 
Malaysia Grand Prix Results:

Pos.
Driver
Team
Time
Laps
Grid
Pts

1
VETTEL
Red Bull
1:37:39.832
56
1
25

2
BUTTON
McLaren
+3.2
56
4
18

3
HEIDFELD
Renault
+25
56
6
15

4
WEBBER
Red Bull
+26.3
56
3
12

5
MASSA
Ferrari
+36.9
56
7
10

6
ALONSO^
Ferrari
Penalty
56
5
8

7
KOBAYASHI
Sauber
+66.4
56
10
6

8
HAMILTON*
McLaren
Penalty
56
2
4

9
SCHUMACHER
Mercedes
+84.8
56
11
2

10
DI RESTA
Force India
+91.5
56
14
1

11
SUTIL
Force India
+1 Lap
55
17
 

12
ROSBERG
Mercedes
+1 Lap
55
9
 

13
BUEMI
Toro Rosso
+1 Lap
55
12
 

14
ALGUERSUARI
Toro Rosso
+1 Lap
55
13
 

15
KOVALINEN
Lotus
+1 Lap
55
19
 

16
GLOCK
Virgin
+2 Laps
54
21
 

17
PETROV
Renault
+4 Laps
52
8
 

DNF
LIUZZI
HRT
+10 Laps
46
23
 

DNF
D’AMBROSIO
Virgin
+14 Laps
42
22
 

DNF
TRULLI
Lotus
Clutch
31
20
 

DNF
PEREZ
Sauber
+33 Laps
23
16
 

DNF
BARRICHELLO
Williams
+34 Laps
22
15
 

DNF
KARTHIKEYAN
HRT
+42 Laps
14
24
 

DNF
MALDONADO
Williams
+48 Laps
8
18
 

*The race stewards handed a 20-second time penalty to Lewis Hamilton after the race for defending his position with more than one change of direction. He drops to eighth position.
^Stewards also applied a 20-second penalty to Fernando Alonso for causing an avoidable collision with Lewis Hamilton.
 
Championsip standings after two rounds:

Pos
Driver
Country
Team
Pts

1
VETTEL
Germany
Red Bull
50

2
BUTTON
Great Britain
McLaren
26

3
HAMILTON
Great Britain
McLaren
22

4
WEBBER
Australia
Red Bull
22

5
ALONSO
Spain
Ferrari
20

6
MASSA
Brazil
Ferrari
16

7
HEIDFELD
Germany
Renault
15

8
PETROV
Russia
Renault
15

9
KOBAYASHI
Japan
Sauber
6

10
BUEMI
Switzerland
Toro Rosso
4

11
SUTIL
Germany
Force India
2

12
SCHUMACHER
Germany
Mercedes
2

13
DI RESTA
Great Britain
Force India
2

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