Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez tore up the formbook at Sepang International as torrential rain caused havoc at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Who was your driver of the day?
Arrived in Malaysia adamant that Ferrari had plenty of work to do despite an encouraging fifth place finish in Melbourne. Looked uncompetitive in first practice on Friday but improved when the team bolted on a new specification wing. Sneaked through into top 10 in qualifying and started eighth. Inherited the lead after the restart when the McLarens pitted and then pumped in the lap times on the intermediate tyres to get a gap. Ferraris quick pitstops ensured he stayed ahead of Sergio Perez and despite late pressure from the Sauber driver, the Spaniard held on to secure his 28th career victory and take the lead in the drivers’ championship.
Showed encouraging pace in Friday practice sessions and then outperformed his Sauber team-mate Kamui Kobayashi by making it into Q3 in qualifying. Started ninth but dropped two places at the start. The team decided to pit him for full wets when the safety car pulled in – a move which proved inspired as the Mexican found himself third after everyone else had followed suit. Third turned into second when Lewis Hamilton had a problem in the pits and then the Mexican turned up the heat on Alonso. Came within a second of the Spaniard after setting a flurry of fastest laps in the dying stages, but a mistake saw him go off track and he ultimately finished second – the best result of his career.
Showed brilliant form on Friday to top the times in both practice sessions and then followed that up with a stunning lap in qualifying on his first attempt in Q3. Made a good start from pole to retain the lead into the first corner, unlike in Australia, and proceeded to pull out a gap over Jenson Button. Lost out to Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez in the pitstops, first having to wait to be released from his pitbox because of traffic and secondly having to wait for the team to remove take from the brake ducts. Struggled to with the intermediate tyres but limited the damage in the drivers’ standings, trailing Alonso by only five points.
Started the weekend on the backfoot as he struggled with his steering and was then forced to change his gearbox following damage sustained in Australia. Showed the Lotus had good pace by qualifying fifth, though that became 10th after the five-place grid drop for the gearbox change. Got clean off the line and performed some good overtakes to rise back up the field. Admitted that he didn’t push to his maximum because of his lack of experience on Pirelli’s wet weather tyres but still showed impressive pace to finish fifth.
Outqualified by Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado for the second successive race and started 13th. Made a good start, but contact early on forced him into the pits. Began the restart in last place, but battled his way through the field, including a brilliant move on Michael Schumacher around the outside of Turn 5. Good strategy from the team and strong pace on the intermediate tyre allowed the Brazilian to work his way into the points and finish sixth. His points tally was in this race was more than Williams managed to score in the entire 2011 season.
Had a nightmare in qualifying when he was knocked of qualifying in Q1 having flat-spotted his tyres and started the race in 18th place. Stayed out on intermediate tyres and found himself in seventh position when the safety car came back out. Managed to make the intermediate tyres work and though he lost a place later on, the Frenchman held on to score his first F1 points in only his second race.