What did we learn from the Malaysian Grand Prix?

Friday, 30 March 2012 From Issue Vol. XX No. 13 By  Dr. Iain Corness

Well, we learned that it still rains in the rainy season in Malaysia, something the FIA hasn’t quite managed to get a handle on yet.  Wake up rule-makers.  Change the date!

We also learned that Sauber’s Sergio Perez, the speedy Mexican, is a huge talent.  Second in the end, but within a gnat’s knee of overtaking Alonso (Ferrari).  The best result for Sauber and very deserved.  You will see him in Massa’s seat before half way through the season.

While still on Ferrari, Alonso drove a magnificently judged race and deserved his win.  Some luck with timing of pit stops, but take nothing away from the Spaniard, and thankfully he seems to have given up his bird impersonations while standing in winner’s lane.

Another third for Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) but this time the psychotherapy seminars worked and he wasn’t standing on his bottom lip like he was in Australia.  Disappointing, after doing so well in Qualifying, but pole position does not guarantee a win anywhere.  Team mate Jenson Button had a Sunday to forget.  Clobbering Narain Karthikeyan was a very rare mistake for Button, but he paid the price and consequently finished out of the points.

Red Bull were always running in the top half dozen, but were never going to challenge for the win.  Mark Webber out qualified Vettel again and finished fourth (again).  Vettel’s race finished when attacked by an HRT (see further in the story).

Mercedes looked to be in great shape after Qualifying, but they came away with only one point for 10th (Michael Schumacher).  His race was compromised in the very beginning, being turned around by Grosjean (“Lotus”).  The Frenchman appears to have problem in relating to time and space, claiming Schumacher hit him!  The only way that could have happened was for Schumacher to select reverse!  Rosberg, the second Mercedes driver (in all respects) went steadily down the order and will have to find some fire and determination before the next race.

The principal “Lotus” driver Kimi Raikkonen drove a sensible race and was rewarded with a fifth place.  In many ways, Raikkonen has been a surprise package, very quickly regaining form and even uttering sentences with more than five words!

Like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes, Williams are back.  Both Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado were right in the thick of things all the way through the race and Senna, in particular, impressed with his driving, and not just through using the family name.  The new blood in the engineering department and a new engine supplier have changed Williams’ fortunes.

Finally, Force India with DiResta and Hulkenberg had two cars in the points, a great result.

Mention must be made of every Indian tailor’s favorite driver.  Narain Karthikeyan in the HRT (Hispania Racing Team, not Hormone Replacement Therapy).  He has made being a “mobile chicane” into an art form, eventually taking out Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and receiving a penalty for it.  However, his moment of glory (59 minutes actually) was his sitting on 10th place on lap eight when the race was suspended (for 59 minutes) after a lucky tyre selection at the start of the race, while the rest of the field were diving into the pits to change from intermediate to full wets.  There is no truth in the rumor that Karthikeyan had been promised a new hand-made suit, two silk shirts and a tie all in 24 hours if he could take out the world champion.

Despite the suspended part of the Grand Prix, it was an exciting race, all the way down the field, so roll on China on April 15.

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