Malaysian Grand Prix 2010: Race Report


The reliability of the two Red Bulls finally matched their performance in Malaysia as Sebastian Vettel led a 1-2 finish for the team.

The expected rain never emerged, and Vettel, who started from third on the grid, overtook his teammate in the opening corner. The German then controlled the race from that point onwards.

Nico Rosberg grabbed a podium for Mercedes, as the team gained their first podium. Robert Kubica scored more points for Renault with a fourth-place finish.

Adrian Sutil held off a challenge from Lewis Hamilton in the latter stages to score his first points of the season as he finished in fifth, while Hamilton drove an excellent race to take sixth place, despite starting from twentieth. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, who also had poor grid slots, finished behind him, while Jaime Alguersuari and Nico Hulkenberg picked up their first ever F1 points.

Sebastian Vettel, starting third, overtook his teammate to take an early lead of the grand prix. Mark Webber did fight back in the opening corners, but to no avail.

The much anticipated rain never appeared, and because of the wet qualifying, all drivers were free to choose the tyre compound they started on. Most of the drivers at the front chose the softer tyres, as did Jenson Button who was languishing in 17th.

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa all started with the harder compound. These drivers, who along with Button were stuck towards the back of the grid, were all expected to use their superior straight line speed to pass the underpowered cars that lay ahead of them on the grid.

The two McLarens and two Ferraris were placed 13th through to 17th by the end of the first lap, with Hamilton leading that pack. Jenson Button was struggling with the handling of his McLaren. His teammate and the two Ferraris had passed by the end of the second lap.

Michael Schumacher made a great start, moving up to sixth off the line, making up two positions. However, on Lap 10 he pulled off the track with a rear suspension failure.

But it was Lewis Hamilton who was the driver to watch at the beginning. Within four laps, the Brit who had started twentieth was up into tenth. He was even given a warning later in the race for weaving across the start/finish straight while Vitaly Petrov was attempting an overtaking manoeuvre on him, but was not given a penalty.

Jenson Button, who was not making much progress out on track, came in the pits on Lap 10 to change to the harder tyre. The pit stop proved an inspired decision as Button exited the pit lane into clean air and on Lap 12 he set a fastest lap.

Meanwhile, at the front of the field, Vettel and Webber were pulling away from the rest. Rosberg was over five seconds behind the Red Bull duo by Lap 15. Lewis Hamilton had made it all the way up to sixth place by this point.

During the main pit stop window, as the drivers were switching to the other compound the regulations dictate they must use in a dry race, Jenson Button was sitting pretty. Having made his stop early, he was now in the position where he would overtake the two Ferraris when they stopped, and possibly his own teammate as well. However, Hamilton was banging in a series of fastest laps in an attempt to stay ahead of his teammate when it came to his own pit stop.

On Lap 23 Sebastian Vettel pitted from the lead and he rejoined the track just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who by this stage was third and yet to stop. Webber pitted on the following lap, and the mechanic on the right-front wheel had a problem removing the gun from the wheel. The Australian emerged behind Hamilton. On his new rubber, Vettel set a fastest lap.

Still the rain held off, and still the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton, and the two Ferraris, hadn't yet stopped to change to the softer tyres. Massa made his stop at the end of Lap 26 – at just under half race distance. He rejoined behind Jenson Button but set the fastest lap on Lap 28, laying down the challenge to Fernando Alonso who was still running on older tyres.

Hamilton pitted before Alonso at the end of Lap 30, and came out just inches in front of his teammate Jenson Button, but quickly pulled out a gap over the current world champion. Alonso finally made his stop at the end of Lap 36.

Button's early stop, which at first seemed like an inspired call, was not looking so sensible by Lap 44, when he was passed by Felipe Massa and had Fernando Alonso breathing down his neck. Just up the road Lewis Hamilton, who was sixth, was being held up by Adrian Sutil, who has the same Mercedes engine in his Force India.

At the beginning of Lap 46, Fernando Alonso almost took eighth place from Button, but couldn't quite get past the world champion. He had another go on the penultimate lap, and then his engine went bang.

Lucas di Grassi picked up Virgin's first finish, leaning out the engine to conserve fuel towards the end. He finished ahead of the Hispania's of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna. Both Lotus cars limped to chequered flag carrying reliability problems. In fact, Heikki Kovalainen, who spent some time in the garage during the race with a hydraulic problem, was ten laps down at the end, and not classified in the standings.