Malaysian Grand Prix Results – Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second round of the Formula 1 World Championship, which has just ended. The Malaysian track was spared the expected storm as the German’s Red Bull crossed the line ahead of Jenson Button in the McLaren and Nick Heidfeld in the Renault. Felipe Massa was the first Ferrari man home, in fifth place ahead of the other 150º Italia, driven by Fernando Alonso, in a race in which as expected, the main player was the tyre changes.
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro picks up valuable points with just a few days to go until the next round, next Sunday at the Shanghai circuit.
Ferrari on the pace in race. Podium hopes vanish in the end.
Eighteen points to its name for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro at the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix, thanks to a fifth place for Felipe Massa and a sixth for Fernando Alonso. Both drivers ran a three stop strategy, using the “Option” tyre for the first two race stints, before ending the race on the “Prime” compound. Unfortunately, a collision with Hamilton as Fernando tried to pass him, meant the Spaniard had to make an additional pit stop to change the nose. After this race, Fernando and Felipe are fifth and sixth respectively in the Drivers’ Championship, while the Scuderia is third in the Constructors’.
Stefano Domenicali: “We cannot be pleased with this result, because today, we had the possibility to finally leap up onto the podium. Two incidents, linked one to a reliability issue (a failure of the moveable rear wing on Fernando’s car) and one at a pit stop (a problem with the left front at Felipe’s first stop) cost us very dear. It’s a shame, because in terms of race pace the 150º Italia seemed much more competitive when compared to its qualifying performance, as we had already seen in Melbourne. Once again today one driver, Vettel, was probably uncatchable but we were capable of fighting with all the others. Felipe and Fernando both drove great races: it’s up to us to give them a better car. We find ourselves in a situation where we need to be perfect to maximise our potential, given that we are lagging behind in terms of performance: we did not manage that and we must do all in our power to avoid that situation repeating itself. At the same time, we have to seriously ramp up the development of our car to make up the lost ground compared to the best. We will try and complete an analysis of the aerodynamics of the car as quickly as possible and introduce some developments as soon as we can, maybe right from the next race in China.”
Fernando Alonso: “I am happy with this race: not with the result but because we were finally competitive, capable of fighting wheel to wheel for a place on the podium. This is further motivation for the forthcoming race in China. We were not lucky: if the moveable rear wing had worked all the time, I could easily have passed Hamilton down the straight, but instead we had to fight hard. He defended very well and, unfortunately, we touched: that broke my wing and I had to come back into the pits to change it, thus losing any chance of getting to the podium. These things happen: today went badly for me, but another time we will have better luck. Here, the car seemed capable of managing the tyres really well which meant I could fight with the others. With the package we have today, we cannot fight for the win, but I hope that changes soon. In Shanghai, we realise we can expect another difficult weekend. We will have something new, but we don’t know how much progress it will see us make. Everyone knows that, at the moment, we just have to grit our teeth and that’s what we will do. There is still a long way to go in the championship and we must leave nothing to chance.”
Felipe Massa: “We definitely have to improve the car, but it’s equally true that our race pace is very different to our performance in qualifying. That’s a positive, but we know that grid position is nevertheless very important, so we have to move forward on this front. As for my race, it was a shame to have lost valuable seconds at my first pit stop: but for that problem, I could have fought my way to a podium place. With the soft tyres my pace was very good, less so on the hards, to such an extent that Webber, who in addition had made one more stop, managed to pass me.”
Pat Fry: “Today we had the potential to pick up rather more than these 18 points, but we didn’t manage it, which leaves a slightly bitter taste in the mouth. Fernando could have made it to the podium, but the coming together with Hamilton, which led to the front wing breaking, meant he had to make an additional pit stop. Unfortunately, the Spaniard had to tackle the duel with his former team-mate at a disadvantage, as he was unable to use the DRS which failed after a few laps because of a mechanical problem. Felipe lost valuable position at his first pit stop because of a problem with the wheel nut on the left front wheel, otherwise he too could have been fighting for a podium place. From a strategic point of view, we scheduled three stops and that proved to be correct. Today, tyre degradation was less than what we had seen on Friday afternoon. The 150º Italia showed it had a good race pace, as indeed was the case in Melbourne. We leave Malaysia aware that we have a lot of work to do to raise our performance level and there can be no doubt about that, but it is also the case that, in the race, the gaps are not as big as in qualifying.”
Within sight of the podium
Felipe Massa finished the second round of the world championship in fifth position, one place of his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate, Fernando Alonso. However, these bare facts hide the true story of the race that provided plenty of excitement for the fans, even without the much awaited Sepang storm and in which both Ferrari men had genuine opportunities to finish on the podium today. In the end, a malfunction of Alonso’s adjustable rear wing meant a straightforward passing move on Hamilton became a titanic and thrilling struggle between two worthy opponents. It ended when the Spaniard clipped the rear of the Englishman’s car, which forced the Ferrari driver to make an extra unscheduled stop for a new nose. Felipe too put in a spirited drive, although a slow pit stop dropped him down the order and in the end, Webber on fresher tyres was able to sneak past the Brazilian who had battled his way back to fourth, but had to settle for that fifth place. Eighteen points mean the Scuderia is still third in the Constructors’ Championship on 36 points, 14 behind McLaren and with half the number of Red Bull Racing the leaders on 72.
The race was won by Sebastian Vettel who thus has a full quota of points having won for Red Bull Racing in Melbourne a fortnight ago. Currently, the German world champion is in a class of his own. Behind him, there were several drivers who seemed ready to lay claim to second place, that position eventually going to Jenson Button for McLaren. Nick Heidfeld, who drives for Renault this year as the replacement for Robert Kubica took an impressive third place, which he built on by powering into second place at the start, from sixth on the grid.
As the lights went out Vettel led from pole, then came the unexpected Heidfeld, followed by Hamilton, Button, Petrov and then Felipe who passed Fernando at the hairpin, with Schumacher and Webber just behind. By lap 6 the two Ferrari men had got by Petrov and then as early as lap 10, Webber began the tyre changes. Three laps later, in came Felipe to switch from old to new soft tyres, but a problem on the left front wheel nut meant his stop was longer than it should have been and he dropped down the order, while Fernando, on the same three stop strategy came in next time round.
Lap 16 saw Fernando go fourth as he passed Button and then third as he moved ahead of Kobayashi. By lap 18, the Spanish Ferrari man was third, about 4 seconds behind Hamilton, while Felipe was in seventh place. From lap 22 onwards, the three stoppers came in for their second tyre change. Lap 30 saw Fernando fourth behind Vettel and the two McLarens and a few laps later, the Ferrari man began to close on Button, while Hamilton had a slow pit stop on lap 37. Lap 40 saw Alonso briefly second, but only because of the run of pit stops, after which he was right with Hamilton. Unfortunately, any chance of getting the F150º Italia ahead of the McLaren were thwarted by the fact Alonso’s moveable rear wing system was no longer working, but the double world champion is not the sort to give up easily, hence began a fantastic fight between the two men. Unfortunately, on lap 46, with 10 to go, Fernando’s front wing just clipped the back of his rival and he had to come in for a new nose, which effectively ruined any chances of a strong result. In fact, after the race, the Stewards gave both men a 20 second penalty; the Prancing Horse driver for causing an accident and the McLaren man for changing too often. Fortunately, while Hamilton dropped a place on the result sheet, Fernando’s time advantage was such that it kept him in sixth place.
As for Felipe, who made his final pit stop on lap 38, he found himself struggling a bit on the hard tyres and despite his best efforts, he was unable to fight off a recovering Webber, who on fresher tyres, eventually passed the Brazilian on lap 50 to take fifth place off him, after which the Australian also moved up to fourth when Hamilton, another one struggling with tyre wear, ran wide with three laps to go.
At the flag therefore, Vettel shared the champagne spraying duties with Button and Heidfeld (possibly the most delighted man in Sepang.) The other points went to Webber fourth ahead of Felipe, then Fernando was sixth, with Kobayashi promoted to seventh, Hamilton demoted to eighth, Schumacher ninth and Di Resta taking the final point for tenth spot.
For Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, the obvious conclusion, now reached in both races so far, is that the pace of the Maranello car is much better in the race than in qualifying. This alone will not be enough to win races and there has been plenty of talk all this weekend from senior personnel in the team, indicating that the technical battle is only just beginning,as everyone in the factory prepares to ramp up efforts in developing the car. Already there are updates making their way to Shanghai where the Chinese Grand Prix takes place in just one week’s time.