F1 2011

KERS-less F1 victory for Vettel in Malaysia – Vodafone’s Button second and Renault driver Heidfeld third !

10.04.2011 / Sepang - Dubai - Cairo /

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel made it look graceful as he scored his second victory of the season and extended his world championship points to 50 on Sunday afternoon in Sepang, Malaysia. The German started from pole position to snatch the lead from the start, looked after his tires through three pits stops, avoided using his problematic KERS from the 29th lap after receiving instruction from his team, but still crossed the start-finishing line 6.1s ahead of a challenging Jenson Button in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes with a lap to go.

Button did the impossible by running 19 laps on a set of Pirelli's prime tires where previously nobody had managed more than 16, but the 3.2s gap at the chequered flag still reflected the Sebastian Vettel dominant triumph as he reached the finish line.

Lewis Hamilton in the other Vodafone McLaren Mercedes had been in the fight all afternoon, once he had overtaken super-fast starting Nick Heidfeld's Renault in the first stops, but unlike his team mate the Briton lost pace on the primes, fell behind Button after the third stops, and needed a fourth to finish the race in seventh after running off the track. This race also clearly showed the difference between the two Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in nursing their tires

Nick Heidfeld astonished the audience in his second race with the Renault team to overtake Mark Webber's Red Bull to the final podium slot, after the KERS-less Australian recovered from a terrible opening lap and four devastating pit stops.

Behind them, Felipe Massa brought his Ferrari home fifth after three stops, only 0.2s ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso, who seemed determined to snatch Hamilton's third place until he hit the back of the McLaren on the 46th lap who seemed slightly to lift the throttle on purpose and therefore needed a fourth stop for a new front wing. He had been struggling for some time with a DRS wing which was out of order working, and was calmed over the team radio by his Ferrari race engineer.

Kamui Kobayashi was involved in several interesting fights, including some wonderful side-by-side racing with Webber as confirmation that the DRS wing concept worked superbly here, and took eighth place for Sauber in Hamilton's wake and ahead of Michael Schumacher who was able to force his way ahead of Paul di Resta's Force India in the last two laps.

Once again the Scottish rookie beat team mate Adrian Sutil, who needed a stop for attention to first lap damage only three laps into the race, but couldn't hold off seven-time champion Schumacher's Mercedes as his Pirellis were finished. Nevertheless he maintained his great record of scoring points in both of his Grands Prix.

Nico Rosberg had a miserable race for 12th in the second Mercedes, ahead of the duelling Toro Rossos of Sebastien Buemi, who overcame a stop-and-go penalty for pit-lane speeding to beat team mate Jaime Alguersuari to 13th. Heikki Kovalainen just failed to catch the Spaniard by the flag, as Lotus beat Virgin and Timo Glock in the newer teams' race to complete the finishers.

A breath taking moment took place as Vitaly Petrov, who scored third place in the last Australian Grand Prix, had just repassed Kobayashi for eighth place on the 53rd lap when he had a big off which sent his Renault flying so high over a kerb that his car's steering column broke after the landing, but though he hit an advertising hoarding he didn't hurt himself. His race, however, ended.

Tonio Liuzzi didn't make the finish either as his HRT stopped when running 18th, nor did Jerome D'Ambrosio's Virgin which had been just ahead of him. Jarno Trulli's Lotus also ran into unreliability, as did Sergio Perez's Sauber and Narain Karthikeyan's HRT, while both Williams drivers, Pastor Maldonado and Rubens Barrichello, had early problems and failed to get the car over the finish line.
After the race was over, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso have had 20 seconds added to their race times by the Malaysian stewards following their clash during the Sepang event.

Hamilton was penalised for making more than one change of direction as he tried to defend his position from Alonso. The Spaniard, meanwhile, received the same penalty for causing a collision with the British driver during the fight.

Hamilton's penalty promotes Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi to seventh in the race results and drops the McLaren driver to eighth. Alonso retains his sixth-place finish.
Sebastian Vettel now has 50 points to Jenson Button's 26, with Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber on 22, Fernando Alonso on 20, Felipe Massa on 16 and both Renault drivers Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov on 15.

Red Bull move further into the lead of the constructors' championship with 72 points, with McLaren on 48 ahead of Ferrari on 36 and Renault on 30.


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