2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Review
Welcome to Sepang, the host of the 2nd GP this season. Lets take a look at how the weekend panned out.
In Friday Practice, Lotus looked really strong along with Red Bull, with each of them leading Practice 1 and 2, but in Practice 3, Team Lotus’s pace was nowhere to be seen and it was Vettel on top again with Lewis right behind him. But as Qualifying started, Red Bull didn’t look very strong in Q1 and that’s when the rain started coming down. We were looking at a wet Q2 and Q3. Eventually, it was Vettel who came out on top to prove once again that no team can beat Vettel and Red Bull over a Qualifying lap. Massa out performed his team mate Alonso once again and the duo took 2nd and 3rd positions on the grid.
With rain earlier in the day, the track was damp in a few areas so everyone started on inters. The 5 red lights came on and then they go off to start the second race this season. Alonso and Webber had a great start, Alonso up to 2nd and Webber in 4th. Into the downhill turn 2, Alonso’s front wing touched Vettel’s car and had quite a lot of damage. Webber took advantage of this situation and gave Alonso a tough fight. With sparks flying, Alonso managed to stay ahead of Webber and everyone expected him to pit, but shockingly he didn’t, and this cost him dearly as his front wing came off in the pit straight and he went off into the gravel and it was race over for Alonso. Not a good way to celebrate your 200th GP in F1.
This pushed Webber up to 2nd behind Vettel. Massa fell back to 7th in the early parts of the race and the team of Hamilton and Rosberg moved up to 3rd and 4th. Button’s Mclaren showed good pace and moved up to 5th.
With a drying track, Vettel decided to pit for slicks on lap 6, a risky move which eventually paid off. Over the next two laps, most of the cars pit for slicks and Webber had a great in lap and came out on top. After the first round of pit stops, the running order was Webber, Vettel, Hamilton, Rosberg and Button. Hamilton came into the McLaren pit box before realizing he moved to Mercedes this year. Want to move back to McLaren already, Lewis?
Lotus was consistent through out the race with Kimi and Grosjean showing good pace, but nothing like what they showed in Friday practice. Massa, in the sole remaining Ferrari, had good race pace but not enough to overtake anyone.
Force India were let down with slow pit stops both times, with the problem being on the front left tire. It went from bad to worse when Di Resta eventually retired on lap 24 and Sutil falling back to last place, and later retiring on lap 28.
After the second round of pit stops, it was the same order up front, with Webber leading Vettel, Hamilton and Rosberg. Mercedes looked very strong and were consistently catching the Bulls every lap. Vettel was now close enough to use DRS on Webber. The action was getting hotter and hotter just like the weather at Sepang.
And on lap 33, the 3rd round of pit stops started. Webber pit first along with Rosberg and was later followed by Hamilton the next lap, followed by Vettel. Hamilton had a great out lap and managed to get ahead of Vettel. And in all this, we had Button leading the race – who would’ve expected to see McLaren on top at any point in the race? Button eventually came in two laps later and a bad stop cost him dearly, pushing him down to 14. Hulkenberg and Raikkonen came out of the pits side by side and continued to fight for 8th and 9th places.
Mercedes told Hamilton that he needs to save fuel and we saw Vettel overtake him right after that for 2nd place. Rosberg was right on Hamilton’s tail. A little behind them, Raikkonen finally went past Hulkenburg for 8th place..
10 laps after the last pit stop, Hamilton came in again. How many pit stops are we going to see today? He was followed in by Vettel and Rosberg. Webber came in a lap after them, the 4th pit stop for the leading pack. Webber comes out right in front of Vettel and has to fight to hold on to 1st position, but for how long? Behind them, Hamilton moves up to 3rd by overtaking Rosberg on the pit straight but on the same lap, Rosberg uses DRS to take back his position.
Vettel used DRS to take on Webber but he held on for two corners, but then Vettel muscled past him to take 1st and Vettel’s engineer said “This is silly Seb, Come on!” Red Bull were hoping not to see a repeat from Turkey in 2010.
Raikkonen then over took Perez and Massa on lap 49 to take 6th but Massa powered back up to take 6th on his new set of tires. Massa closed in on Grosjean for 5th, with those on a 3 stop race struggling to maintain their tires. Ricciardo retired with 3 laps to go. Not a good start to his season with 2 retirements in two races.
Ross Brawn kept telling Rosberg to fall back to avoid a clash between him and Hamilton. McLaren brought in Button and decided to end his race 2 laps from the end. Perez pitting 2 laps from the end, not a good race for them either.
With a completely dry race, Vettel came home in 1st, followed closely by Webber, Hamilton in 3rd and Rosberg in 4th. A good race for Massa barring his initial stint, finally finishing in 5th. Lotus finished in 6th and 7th, I expected more from them. Perez set the fastest lap on the very last lap, finishing in 9th.
The drivers looked exhausted after such a long and tiring race. Webber was in no mood to talk to Vettel before heading on to the podium.
So, there it is. Vettel, Webber and Hamilton the top three finishers for the 2013 Malaysia GP. It was a 13th 1-2 for the Red Bull Racing team and 6th Podium finish for the Mercedes AMG team.
Non finishers from this race are – Alonso, Di Resta, Sutil, Maldanado, Ricciardo and Button. The rest took the chequered flag. A good race for the back markers who finished the race. Bianchi again finished ahead of his team mate and the two Caterhams. Good day at the office for him.
Webber thinks he should’ve won and Vettel says he isn’t proud of his win. And Hamilton thinks Rosberg should have been on the podium. A lot of discussions will take place within these teams to sort out all these issues and they will be back out on track in less than 3 weeks for the Chinese Grand Prix. See you all there.