Kimi Raikkonen got his title defence back on track with a dominant victory for Scuderia Ferrari in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The world champion had a frustrating race last weekend in Melbourne, with two driving errors at turn 3 followed by an engine failure. Making up for that disappointment, the Iceman drove a perfect race here in Sepang beating Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber and Heikki Kovalainen in the McLaren.
Australian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton struggled with race pace. It didn’t help that he was demoted down five positions due to ‘blocking other cars’ during Q3 in which Lewis and team-mate Kovalainen was at fault… Adding insult to injury, Lewis had a problem in his first pit stop with the right-front tyre (the wheel nut locking mechanism failed). Without these problems, the championship leader could have finished on the podium. Fifth was the best Lewis could have hoped for…
The manner in which Kimi Raikkonen dominated the Malaysian Grand Prix means Ferrari has finally reveal the true pace of the F2008. Though the performance from the blue and white cars (BMW Sauber) could suggest that this championship battle may be a three-way fight. Kubica’s second place finish follows on from team-mate Nick Heidfeld’s impressive result in Australia. Both drivers have now finished in second position in two consecutive races. In addition, this was the Pole’s first podium since the 2006 Italian Grand Prix.
Sure, Kubica benefited from Felipe Massa’s spin on lap 31 to take the runner-up spot, but the German team do have genuine pace to keep up with the top two teams in Formula One. It will be a matter of when BMW scores its first victory this season.
For Massa, the pole sitter was baffled in how he lost control of his Ferrari while running second. It was the Brazilian’s second consecutive retirement following an engine problem in Australia and with no points in these two races, Felipe faces a difficult challenge to regain lost ground over Hamilton and Raikkonen. The cause of the spin remains a mystery but I believe he may have accelerated a bit too aggressively…
In Melbourne at the first corner, Massa lost the back end of his car in a bid to out-accelerate Heikki Kovalainen. This resulted him to hit the tyre wall but he was fortunate enough to get away with only a damaged front wing.
And as he pirouetted out of the Malaysian Grand Prix in a spin, it points to the hallmarks of a driver asking too much on his rear tyres… The Ferrari team admitted afterwards they couldn’t see anything obviously wrong from the car’s telemetry. A potential one-two result for Scuderia ended with a beached Ferrari in the gravel…
Finishing in fourth went to Toyota’s Jarno Trulli who managed to resist a late race charge from Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld was sixth while Mark Webber scored two points for Red Bull Racing after the team started the weekend poorly.
Close behind Webber was Fernando Alonso, who scored the final remaining point. He finished six seconds ahead of the second Red Bull of David Coulthard, with Jenson Button rounding out the top ten in the Honda.
Despite the poor race for Lewis Hamilton, the Brit retains the drivers’ championship lead with 14 points but following Raikkonen’s commanding victory here in Sepang, the Iceman is only three points behind. In the constructors’ chase, McLaren Mercedes leads with 24, ahead of BMW Sauber on 19 and Ferrari on 11.
Malaysian Grand Prix result – 56 laps
1. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1h31m18.555s
2. KUBICA BMW +19.5s
3. KOVALAINEN McLaren +38.4s
4. TRULLI Toyota +45.8s
5. HAMILTON McLaren +46.5s
6. HEIDFELD BMW +49.8s
7. WEBBER Red Bull +1m08.1s
8. ALONSO Renault +1m10.0s
9. COULTHARD Red Bull +1m16.2s
10. BUTTON Honda +1m26.2s
11. PIQUET Renault +1m32.2s
12. FISICHELLA Force India +1 lap
13. BARRICHELLO Honda +1 lap
14. ROSBERG Williams +1 lap
15. DAVIDSON Super Aguri +1 lap
16. SATO Super Aguri +2 laps
17. NAKAJIMA Williams +2 laps
R. VETTEL Toro Rosso +17 laps
R. MASSA Ferrari +26 laps
R. SUTIL Force India +51 laps
R. GLOCK Toyota +55 laps
R. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso +56 laps
Fastest lap: HEIDFELD 1m35.366s
World Championship standings, round 2:
1. Hamilton 14
2. Raikkonen 11
3. Heidfeld 11
4. Kovalainen 10
5. Kubica 8
6. Rosberg 6
7. Alonso 6
8. Trulli 5
9. Nakajima 3
10. Webber 2
11. Bourdais 2
1. McLaren-Mercedes 24
2. BMW Sauber 19
3. Ferrari 11
4. Williams-Toyota 9
5. Renault 6
6. Toyota 5
7. Red Bull-Renault 2
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2
NEXT ROUND: Bahrain Grand Prix, Bahrain International Circuit. April 6.