Sebastian Vettel took his first win of season 2013 but in doing so disobeyed a team order from Red Bull and left a solemn podium of three men who all didn’t want to be there.
Mark Webber took second after leading for most of the race, with Vettel passing him after the team told both drivers to conserve tyres and hold station. Vettel later apologised after the race, admitting he had ‘made a mistake’ in passing the Australian and both drivers clearly have a lot of making up to do as the F1 circus moves to China in three weeks time. Vettel also admitted that it was a win that should’ve been Mark’s.
The move from Vettel came after a tight battle between the two coming into the first corner, with both drivers coming within inches of repeating their infamous clash at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix. Vettel held the inside line before Webber took the position back into turn two, but couldn’t make the move stick as Vettel accelerated towards turn three.
The win means Vettel takes the lead in the Drivers’ Championship, over Kimi Räikkönen and Mark Webber. Red Bull also take the lead in the Constructors’ Championship.
The race initially started wet as a heavy shower appeared just before the race start. Several drivers made off trace excursions on the way to the grid as they tested the track surface, but the track dried quickly enough for the slicks to be used after a few laps.
Lewis Hamilton finished third and took his first podium for Mercedes, but also was disappointed in the result after further team orders saw him take a position he admitted should’ve been for Nico Rosberg, who finished in his wheeltracks in fourth. Hamilton did provide the ‘comedic moment’ of the race after pulling into the McLaren pits instead of Mercedes, and admitted after the race that he lost concentration after being used to pulling into the Silver Arrows garage for so long.
Both Mercedes cars were forced to save fuel and couldn’t challenge for the win after keeping pace with the Red Bulls for large portions of the race, and Rosberg was then ultimately told to hold position behind Hamilton. Despite the mood within both teams, Red Bull and Mercedes will be happy to come away with a good haul of points.
Felipe Massa finished fifth and had a disappointing race after starting on the front row. The Brazilian had a bad start that saw him drop back into the field, while his team-mate Fernando Alonso had front wing damage after touching Vettel and a surprising move not to pit at the end of the first lap saw him crash out in the Turn 1 gravel after his front wing lodged itself under his car.
Romain Grosjean drove a quiet but impressive race for Lotus to finish ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen in sixth place. The Frenchman had a battle with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez but quietly made his way through the field after pit stops. Räikkönen also was involved in several battles, struggling to get ahead of Hulkenberg for most of the race and never showed the pace that he had previously demonstrated at the start of the weekend.
Hulkenberg gave Sauber their first points of the year after a great drive to eighth. The German kept Räikkönen behind him for most of the race and will be happy to get points in his Sauber career. Sergio Perez also scored his first points for his new team in 2013, and finished ninth, setting the fastest lap along the way. Jean-Eric Vergne was tenth after inheriting the position from his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who was forced to retire after a strong race. Vergne’s race wasn’t without incident after a collision with the Caterham of Charles Pic in the pit lane forced him to change his front wing. Vergne was later found guilty of breaching Article 23.12 of the Formula 1 sporting regulations for an unsafe release from a pit stop, and Toro Rosso was fined 10,000 Euros.
Outside the points and Valtteri Bottas nearly became the first rookie in 2013 to score a point after finishing in 11th place. He just edged out fellow rookies Esteban Gutierrez and the impressive Jules Bianchi who once again pushed his Marussia well above its capabilities. At one stage Bianchi was ahead of both Williams’ and was seven tenths off Australian Grand Prix fastest lap holder Kimi Raikkonen’s fastest lap time. Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde were 14th and 15th, while Max Chilton brought up the rear in 16th place.
For the non finishers, it was a disastrous race for Force India after showing so much potential across the weekend. Three separate pit stops saw problems, and both Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil were forced to retire with wheelnut issues.
Jenson Button continued McLaren’s woes by also retiring after stopping in the pit lane when he was released from his pit bay before all wheels had been fully tightened. Button continued but was pulled in to the garage with only two laps remaining. The only other retirement of the race was Pastor Maldonado, who once again failed to finish in his Williams.
So with three weeks now until the next round of the championship, a lot of mending fences will need to take place between the already frosty relationship in the Red Bull garage.
2013 Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (56 laps):
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||56||1:38:56.681|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||56||+ 4.298|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||56||+ 12.181|
|4.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||56||+ 12.640|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||56||+ 25.648|
|6.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||56||+ 35.564|
|7.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||56||+ 48.479|
|8.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||56||+ 53.044|
|9.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||56||+ 1:12.357|
|10.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||56||+ 1:27.124|
|11.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||56||+ 1:28.610|
|12.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||55||1 lap behind|
|13.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||55||1 lap behind|
|14.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||55||1 lap behind|
|15.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||55||1 lap behind|
|16.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||54||2 laps behind|
|17.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||53||Wheel|
|DNF.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||51||Exhaust|
|DNF.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||45||KERS|
|DNF.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||27||Wheel nut|
|DNF.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||22||Wheel nut|
|DNF.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1||Accident|