Alonso withstands Pérez to win Malaysian GP

on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Malaysia, Sepang International Circuitmy

Only 9 laps into the race, the Malaysian GP was stopped due to the rainy conditions, only to be restarted one hour later. It wasn't however any less interesting, with Alonso eventually winning the race after withstanding intense pressure from Sergio Pérez. Lewis Hamilton finished third after an unspectacular performance.

The start of the Malaysian GP is held on a slightly damp track, at least on the starting grid. From turn 4 to 10, the track is very wet, hence all drivers are starting on intermediates.

As the red lights went out, Romain Grosjean made a great start, going to third place immediately. Fernando Alonso as well enjoyed a great start, going through the outside of turn 1.

At turn 4 however, Grosjean's work is undone as he tangles up with Michael Schumacher. Both spin and lose a lot of places. Schumacher is 13th after getting back up to speed while Grosjean dropped to 18th.

Vettel just managed to get around the two, inheriting 4th place, behind Webber and ahead of Alonso and Rosberg.

2 laps into the race there is heavy rain on the pit straight, and at the end of lap 3 Massa is in for full wet tyres. One lap later Button and Alonso do exactly the same, followed by nearly the entire field.

Earlier in that lap, Grosjean ended up in the gravel trap and abandons from the race. Last week, at least he managed to go until lap 11.

The next lap, Hamilton, both Red Bulls and the Mercedes cars are in as well, after noticing that the full wet racers are far quicker in these conditions.

By the start of lap 7, conditions have worsened further, requiring a safety car on the track. Hamilton at that time is still in the lead, just ahead of Button and Sergio Pérez. Webber is 4th, Alonso 5th, Vettel, Vergne, Massa, Rosberg and then Karthikeyen in 10th place. The latter HRT driver started the race on full wet tyres and tehrefore could save himself a pitstop.

Meanwhile in the pitlane the electricity fell out for a brief moment.

On lap 9 the race was stopped as weather was expected to continue like this. As a result all cars stopped on the grid, with team personnel rejoining their drivers. Fortunately, rain started to reduce 20 minutes later, and 1 hours, 15 minutes after the original start, the SC restarted the race.

3 laps later, the safety car leaves the track, and a lot of drivers are immedaitely diving into the pitlane for a change of tyres. Hamilton, Pérez, the Red Bulls and Ferraris are amongst those staying on track, but Mark Webber is quickly going backwards.

Alonso passed Webber on turn 1, with Vettel doing the same 5 turns later. Massa meanwhile also passed Vergne and moves up a spot.

One lap later, a lot of drivers enter the pitlane, but Pérez continues on the full wets.

With Hamilton having to wait to get out of his box due to Massa entering the pitlane, Alonso returned to the track ahead of both McLarens, and right behind Karthikeyan.

Half a lap later the Ferrari is past the HRT, but Button makes a slight mistake and slides into Karthikeyan, breaking his front wing. Button consequently entered the pitlane for a new front wing.

As Pérez now also pitted, the positions on lap 17 are Alonso in the lead, 2.7 seconds ahead of Pérez. Hamilton is third, Rosberg 4th, Vettel 5th, Raikkonen 6th, followed by Webber, Massa, Di Resta, Vergne and Hulkenberg. Button is down in 20th position but has recorded the fastest lap so far, trying to regain some of the lost time.

Ricciardo meanwhile is showing off some of his skill, passing both Kobayashi and Senna on the outside of the fast left-right sweeper.

On lap 23, as Alonso sets another fastest lap, Vettel finally gets past Rosberg using DRS which was enabled by race control on lap 20. Another lap later Raikkonen also passes Rosberg while Webber also closes in on the Mercedes.

On lap 25 Button enters the pitlane after complaining about his tyres. There muist have been something wrong with the tyre pressures, as he is simply fitted with another set of intermediates before rejoining the track.

Mark Webber meanwhile passed Rosberg on turn 7 while Schumacher is also passed in similar manner by Senna. The Mercedes cars are apparently suffering with a lack of grip, likely due to wearing out their intermediates too quickly.

On lap 26 Massa outbrakes himself and allowed Di Resta and Vergne to gets past, with one lap later also Senna. The Brazilian immediately decided to enter the pitlane and get a new set of intermediates fitted.

On lap 29 Button sets the fastest lap, half a second faster than Alonso's fastest lap.

At this moment, Alonso is still leading, 7.6s ahead of Sergio Pérez. Hamilton is another 7 seconds down on the Sauber. Vettel is 4th with a comfortable margin ahead of Raikkonen and Webber. Di Resta, Vergne, Senna and Hulkenberg are the others provisionally in the points.

On lap 32 Pérez seems to have found some additional pace in his Sauber. He sets the fastest lap and start to cut down the advantage of Alonso lap by lap. The difference of 7.7s has been reduced to 4.9s by lap 37.

In the back of the field, Button is slowly gaining places and has moved up to 15th. Massa on the other hand is going backwards and has dropped to 18th position.

Ricciardo meanwhile has changed to dry weather tyres in lap 38, while Button and Webber have both been warned that rain is extremely close to the track. Massa meanwhile also switches, followed by Webber.

It appears the medium tyres are now quite a bit faster than the worn intermediates.

In the middle of lap 40, Pérez has joined Alonso with the gap now reduced to 0.8 seconds. Alonso however takes the bet and also switched for mediums, followed by Vettel and Raikkonen.

Pérez changed tyres one lap later and it quickly appeared that he would better have done that along with Alonso. Pérez was also fitted with the harder slick, compared to nearly everybody opting for the softer medium compound.

With the front runners now all on slicks, Alonso still leads at lap 43. Pérez is 7s behind, followed by Hamilton at 11s. Vettel is 4s behind, Webber another 4 but he is lapping considerably quicker than his teammate right ahead of him. Raikkonen is 6th, followed by Di Resta, Senna, Vergne, Hulkenberg.

Pérez however continues to impress. The Mexican is a massive 1.4s faster on lap 43 than Alonso. Another lap later the gap to Alonso is down to just 2.8 seconds.

On lap 48 Vettel is in the pits with a puncture. It appears he cut his left rear tyre on the front wing of Karthikeyan. Vettel was in 4th place and when returning is out of the points.

Meanwhile Pérez came right behind Alonso and was within 1 second from lap 48. He didn't get past the Spaniard for two laps, and on lap 51 Pérez made a crucial mistake on lap 51, going way too wide in turn 13. HE was able to return to the track without damage, but with just 5 laps to go the gap to Alonso is back up to 4.8 seconds.

One lap from the end, Maldonado is out of the race. The Venezuelan was running 10th but the Renault engine let go, blowing a lot of blue smoke on the right hand side of the car. At the same time Vettel is asked to retire his own car, likely to enable the team the change gearbox for the next race without a penalty.

This means Alonso wins the Malaysian GP with the Ferrari F2012, a car with front pullrod suspension.

Results

Pos.No.DriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
15Fernando AlonsoFerrari56Winner825
215Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari56+2.2 secs918
34Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes56+14.5 secs115
42Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault56+17.6 secs412
59Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault56+29.4 secs1010
619Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault56+37.6 secs138
711Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes56+44.4 secs146
817Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari56+46.9 secs184
912Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes56+47.8 secs162
107Michael SchumacherMercedes AMG56+49.9 secs31
111Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault56+75.5 secs5
1216Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari56+76.8 secs15
138Nico RosbergMercedes AMG56+78.5 secs7
143Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes56+79.7 secs2
156Felipe MassaFerrari56+97.3 secs12
1621Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault55+1 Lap19
1724Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth55+1 Lap20
1820Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault55+1 Lap24
1918Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault54+2 Laps11
2025Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth54+2 Laps21
2123Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth54+2 Laps23
2222Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth54+2 Laps22
Ret14Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari46+10 Laps17
Ret10Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault3+53 Laps6