Vettel starts title race as Red Bull dominates Sepang
Red Bull Racing
Vettel starts title race as Red Bull dominates Sepang
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Apr 2010   |  11:34 am GMT  |  240 comments

After leading but failing to win the first two Grands Prix Sebastian Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix today at Sepang, thanks to a bold pass on his team mate the pole sitter Mark Webber at the start of the race.

It was another race where the start was decisive. That move by Vettel was the key. Webber finished second, with Nico Rosberg third. Robert Kubica had another strong performance, jumping up to fourth place at the start, as in Melbourne and holding that place until the finish. And Adrian Sutil underlined Force India’s credentials with a strong drive to fifth place.

Of the big names who started at the back of the field after misjudging qualifying, Lewis Hamilton got the best result in sixth. He made up 8 places at the start. Hamilton had another swashbuckling afternoon with some strong overtaking manoeuvres. He was warned by the stewards about his driving after he weaved several times to break the tow and shake off Vitalt Petrov, who proved quite tough to pass; the first time Hamilton passed him, Petrov passed him right back again, using the Renault’s impressive straight line speed, which allowed him to compete with the McLaren.

Vettel would now be dominating the championship with 75 points on the board were it not for poor reliability on the Red Bull car in Bahrain and Melbourne and this win will come as a great relief to the team.

A 1-2 finish on a day when both McLaren and Ferrari scored minor placings boosted both Vettel and Red Bull’s championship positions. Vettel is now joint second with 37 points, two points off the lead, while the team leapt from fifth to third in the constructors’ table.

The German got a good start from third place on the grid and hauled past Nico Rosberg to challenge Webber into Turn 1. The Australian covered him initially but then opened the door in the braking zone and Vettel eased through.

“I had a good start and got the tow from Mark, I took the chance I had in Turn 1, ” said Vettel. “We both pushed, we had to fight and we had respect for each other. After that it was a question of getting away from our competitors.

“What a day. We had a magnificent car and the key was to pace yourself. It’s a good result after two races where we didn’t finish where we want to be.”

Webber put a brave face on his loss, but said that the team “blew everyone away” today and praised the spirit of the Red Bull team.

The rain which had tormented the teams in qualifying failed to materialise on race day and it was a race where teams had to decide the right tyre strategy for dry conditions. Complicating the situation was the fact that the track was green at the start after all the rain on Saturday, increasing the tyre degradation.

Starting from the back of the grid, Lewis Hamilton and the two Ferraris opted to run a long first stint on the hard tyres, whereas most drivers went for the soft tyres and a shorter first stint. The drivers on soft tyres pitted from around lap 20 onwards, with the Red Bulls getting 24 and 25 laps out of their tyres.

Jenson Button started on softs and made another very early call for tyres on lap 10, because he wasn’t making the progress through the field that Hamilton was. But this time it was the wrong call, as he was forced to do 46 laps on the hard tyres. Towards the end he was really struggling as the Ferraris of Massa and Alonso caught him.

Fernando Alonso lost the championship lead to team mate Felipe Massa after he retired in the final laps when his engine let go. It was the third Ferrari engine problem along with both Saubers. Both Ferraris had required some work in parc ferme on the engines’ pneumatic system.

Alonso had an impressive race, considering that he also had a gear selection problem from the early stages of the race. He went to lap 37 on the hard tyres and around 30 laps into the race he was able to match the lap times of Vettel who had recently pitted for new hard tyres.

Michael Schumacher, who got a great start and went from 8th to 6th, retired on lap 10, with a loose wheel nut while his nemesis from Melbourne, Jaime Alguersuari, scored his first F1 points in 10th place.

Virgin Racing got its first finish, with Lucas di Grassi despite having a fuel tank which isn’t large enough, by leaning the engine out. While both Hispania cars made it to the finish, along with Jarno Trulli’s Lotus.

MALAYSIAN GP, Sepang, 56 laps
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.8s
3. Rosberg Mercedes + 13.5s
4. Kubica Renault + 18.5s
5. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 21.0s
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 23.4s
7. Massa Ferrari + 27.0s
8. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 37.9s
9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m10.6s
10. Hulkenberg Williams + 1m13.3s
11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m18.9s
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
13. Alonso Ferrari + 2 laps
14. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps
15. Chandhok Hispania-Cosworth + 3 laps
16. Senna Hispania-Cosworth + 4 laps
17. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 5 laps

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george cowley ci5

even though redbull were class of the field,do people really think there reliability is back on track,they were cruising in the race with the wick turned down,if maclaran and ferrai,can get near the top rows,and put pressure on the redbulls in the race,there could be trouble ahead for vettal,forget webber here only win,when vettal has problums


Alonso, best driver for Malaysian GP. Clutch and gear problems from Lap 1, he drove his heart out. BRAVO! That’s why Alonso is the best package overall.



Can you shed any light or find out through your well placed contacts if there are any truth in the “rumours” doing the rounds in sepang that Kubica has signed a letter of intent to move to ferrari in 2011.

Some sites are reporting it as done but who do we believe!!

Can we have an ‘ask James a question’ link on your site for such things as these as you seem to be the one who keeps us all up to date the best



I think he has kept his options open, but I’m not sure that Ferrari would have done such a deal at this stage. Massa is leading the championship after all and they have a lot of belief in him


I honestly can’t see any good reason why Ferrari would switch Massa for Kubica.

Kubica is looking very good this season, but he’s against a rookie. Petrov is of uncertain ability and we have seen young guys struggle when graduating from GP2 before.


Why did Hamilton get a penalty when Petrov did exactly the same, legal, fair, towbreaking move on him in the laps before ?

Why didn’t Massa get a penalty for the far more dangerous Blocking move on Hamilton last week ?

Why do so many people watch Races, read this Blog and still do not or do not want to understand simple facts about racing. If you do not understand the difference between the two, why draw attention to your ignorance, especially when James Allen has described it so well.

Personally I do think his overtaking ability is what scares people, he is simply way better than any of the others.


I think fans like to be part of the discussion.

Armchair pundits love second guessing the stewards decisions. It’s the same with football fans and referees.

Perhaps F1 should have a yellow card – red card system. However, rather than banning drivers for a race for a red card offence let them start from the back and let their talent shine through.

Or should the winner of each race be decided by text voting…

Interesting that Kimi was voted 3 favourite/best F1 driver.

I think true fans understand the sport more than you give us credit for. That’s part of the reason we’re loyal to James’ blog.


sorry to say this but this forum is quickly becoming “lewis hamilton fanclub” and that is sooo sad!


For sure it will eb and flow as the season progresses.

Love him or loathe him he certainly generates interest for the sport.

If Hamilton had pulled off 2 back to back championships 2007 + 2008 he would have had the world at his feet. He didn’t and yet he does. All he needs now are a few podiums and to stay ahead of Button.

Perhaps we will see Lewis and Seb together at Ferrari once Alonso’s contract expires.


Take a look at all the responses to the first comment, if that doesn’t spell “healthy debate” I don’t know what does. Hamilton put up a great performance this weekend outside that minor issue, but this weekend was not his story – this weekend was all about RBR, well done to them, a well deserved 1,2.


You clearly don’t bother reading all the posts as there are many that seem to have a grudge against Hamilton.




Would the Schumi of old have parked it at the first sign of car trouble, or at least tooled round to the pit for a look-see from the mechanics?


Oh dear, that’s really grasping at straws there Pogi. Quote from Schumacher “I lost all drive”.

That answer your question?


” That answer your question?”

Yeah, fair enough. I was disappointed with Michael at first, but then I read that news about his losing drive later on.

All is forgiven, Schumi. Now kick some butt! :p


He might have got to the middle of a right hand bend before the wheel came off. He knows it is better not to risk damaging the car any further. But yes the Schumi of old may have dragged it back to the pits.


Dare I say it, that was another Herman Tilke snooze race.

Also, why are they taking the bumps out of Singapore? The 2008 inception of that track was perfect, nothing needed to be changed.


Looks like Button proved he is no genius or great driver… a real struggler if anything.

Hamilton did not block, as he was trying to move out of the path of the car behind – it was the car behind that kept following Hamilton… blocking requires the car infront to move as a result of the car moving behind…

Hamilton is miles ahead of everyone…

James Allen, I’m afraid Buttom let you down big time, and I expect this to happen time and again, as he is only any good when freak events happen to get him ahead…

As soon as Button’s talent is called upon, he fails miserably, everytime…


Surprisingly good dry race.

However…Looking more closely most of the passing was due to a significantly faster car managing to overtake thanks to poor starting position and/or pitstop strategy.

The last 20 odd laps were…well…promising, but failed to deliver any major position changes on track.

Still, an enjoyable race.

In any case, the race gave me 2 ideas:

1. Give the qualification top 5 an option to trade their grid position for points (eg. 7-5-3-2-1).

That is, first place driver could take 7 points but would have to start from the back of the grid, second place driver 5 but would start from second to last position, etc…

That way we might see more stunts (ie. on track passing 😉 like we saw today from Hamilton, Alonso, Massa & Button…

2. Create a mandatory aerodynamic ‘drag device’ that “clears the air” behind a running car enabling much better slipstreaming.

Basically an F1 car which ends to a ‘wall’* creating something akin to a suction behind the car -> highly beneficial slipstreaming -> much easier overtaking.

The problem currently is that if your car is not significantly faster on straights overtaking is very, very hard…Now add a ‘slipstream device’ which would effectively give a speed boost to the brave driver trying to overtake…well, you do the math.

* Few centimeters high one, but you get my point, I hope.


The Handford Device, used by CART on the super speedways in 1998. I don’t know how well it would work on a road course…


Hmm…googles a bit..

It might be that something like Handford Device would work better in normal racing tracks as its impact would be greatest on straights and would be virtually negligible in slow corners.

On the other hand, it would work as an airbrake so…

I gather I might be worth a few simulation runs at FIA side of things though.


“I gather *I* might be worth a few simulation runs at FIA side of things though.”

That should be it.


Wonder how the removal of pod mirror is going to slow Red Bull, Ferrari.


Looks like engine reliability will slow the red cars more…


Sounds like Alonso had to do manual heel-toe shifts, not sure if that had to do with the blow up but if so it woundn’t have been wise to waste an engine for 2 points, or worse, nothing.


Yes interesting subject:

In theory it will spoil the body airflow as the mirrors have to be moved inboard. Also it removes any excuse for the flat panels outside the front of the pods. So in theory, more body drag and less cooling.


The silver and yellow teams don’t have it while the red and blue ones do. A very subtle move behind the scenes to prevent a RBR runaway? Meanwhile Newey is complaining about F duct safety =) Gotta love this sport !!


James, Lewis started in 20th place and finished in 6th position. Jenson started in 17th place, and pitted on lap 9, and as you say was the wrong call, and finished in 8th place. Don’t you think that you went too far when you said that Button has, ” instinctive tactical brilliance “. If that’s the case then, what happened with that brilliance today???




Button as good as Hamilton, I don’t think so.

What we saw from Hamilton today is what I for one want to see in F1, being bold and proving overtaking can be achieved in F1.

Driver of the day (by a mile) Lewis Hamilton (come on McLaren give him a winning car) ❗


James, with all this fuss over Hamilton’s weaving to lose Petrov, would you consider doing a story on this subject to help set the record straight for us all.

I have done the same manoeuvre in bicycle racing, and it is purely designed to spoil your opponent’s ability to draught you, and is quite obviously not a blocking move.

Petrov did not have to follow across the track, he could have chosen to go straight and try to overtake Hamilton if he was close enough behind. I see it as a perfectly legal racing action.

But the problem now exists that we are highly unlikely to see anything like this again this season, as the drivers will fear a slap on the wrist. And the sterilisation of F1 continues…

It would be great to have this clarified.



great site btw – As I read the below reg, Hamilton made 3 moves to many! Once, ok. Twice, no way. Thrice, ya gotta be kiddin’ me! But 4 times?!

Re: “The Hamilton Weave”

For what it’s worth:

Appendix L To The International Sporting Code

Code Of Driving Conduct On Circuits

Chapter IV Article 2 b)

“Overtaking, according to the circumstances, may be carried out on either the right or left.

However, manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such

more than one change of direction to defend a position,

deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited. Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will be reported to the stewards of the meeting.”

Hammy shoulda gotten a “stop & go” at the minimum!


You just wrote it out but did not read it. It covers overtaking. If Petrov had moved to the side and Lewis blocked him more than once that would be covered in the rule. BUT Petrov was not trying to overtake, HE was following Lewis’s movements.


rpaco – Well no, I read it, UNDERSTOOD it, and then wrote it! YOU do not understand it.

Hammy’s actions belie your contention ” BUT Petrov was not trying to overtake, HE was following Lewis’s movements”. Hammy KNEW Petrov was trying to attempt a pass. THAT’S why he drove like a drunk, dancing all over the straight! Petrov got in his gear box and was going to slipstream and slingshot ahead of Hammy. Hammy knew this and the moment Petrov got in his gear box he jinked 4 DIFFERENT TIMES!! Do we want exciting racing (overtaking and re-overtaking) or do we want our fav driver/team to win?

“manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such

more than one change of direction to defend a position

…or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited. Any driver who appears guilty of any of the above offences will be reported to the stewards of the meeting.” Please re-read slowly and carefully.

And James, please have an article on this. You do a great job of clearing minds with facts.


I have to agree. Lewis is without doubt guilty of weaving. Whether he was trying to break the tow or not is irrevelent. You NEVER see F1 cars weave that much, why? Because if they did they’d be penalised. It doesn’t matter that it was Lewis. If the cars had touched at that speed due to the excessive movement between them, both could have been seriously hurt. It’s never been acceptable to jink about that much.

Stuart the old geezer

You have the figures – out of three races, how many laps has Vettel been P1?


good point from bison when james made the leadership argument about jb i choked, it was a big joke,love him or hate him ,lewis is one of the best if not the best in formula one to some how even try to compare them is just crazy and about ms i have said before he is finish and that will be the must humiliating comeback ever nico rosberg will have the last laught….


Well said re: Hamy! Simply in a class of his own. JB would never do what he did. or if he did, it would be an exception. as for Hamy, who would bet that he wont repeat what he did today a few more times this year if he finds himself in a similar situation?

Hamy, entertainer-in-chief! Who needs Kers or new tyre regs? just keep Hamy starting from back of the grid:).


These are my top three drivers for the Malaysian Grand Prix:

Lewis Hamilton: His charge through the field showing aggregation and determination makes Hamilton a driver fun to watch. He is never happy just to settle for a few points like many drivers do and does not take prisoners when it comes to try to win a race. He was great passing cars today.

Sebastian Vettel: This kid is just unbelievable, give him a reliable and reasonable quick car and you have a winner here. He is more and more looking like the real deal.

Nico Rosberg: Very strong and consistent drive to take the final podium spot with a car that is not a match for Red Bull.

I had a hard time here because I think Robert Kubica did a great job too but I picked Rosberg simply because he is coping really well with his top of the line team mate Michael Schumacher. We’ll see how Rosberg handles Schumacher when or if he ever gets back to his old days.

Lets bring on the Chinese Grand Prix.


Your first two I agree with but Rosberg third? Sorry can’t agree with that, Alonso is a far better driver than Rosberg.


I know Alonso is a better driver than Rosberg, but I’m talking about this race. My title was “These are my top three drivers for the Malaysian Grand Prix”, so the question here is was Alonso better than Rosberg in the Malaysian Grand Prix? Not to me.


Great great drive from Lewis…the man’s got talent and knows how to entertain..”SHOW MAN HAMMY”…btw…lewis is a beast in China…be!!!


Hamilton could not do what he did to Petrov.

It’s forbidden, no one is allowed to do that.

Lewis is a world champion, and he should know the rules. Beeing a champion should mean greater responsabilities.

Petrov is just a rookie and he has a lot to learn from the big guns.

Today Hamilton gave him a lesson: forget the rules…stupid.


what do you mean?

is it forbidden to step outside the racing line?

hamilton is not obliged to help with petrov’s slipstreaming attempt. it was petrov that decides to follow hamilton rather than break the tow. if petrov was fast enough, the moment hamilton breaks from the racing line petrov could just gleefully power on ahead to be side by side with hamilton. why didn’t he do that?

BECAUSE he will lose speed without the tow.

some people just don’t get it.


I agree, blocking is when the person behind tries to overtake and this clearly didn’t happen here.

Must say though, the Renault seems to have fantastic straight line speed and as far as I know they don’t have the stall wing so how are they doing it?


LH moved first. Petrov CHOSE to follow. Take off your blinkers and learn the rules.


Im sorry but thats wrong.

Its forbidden if you are swerving to block and overtake. Hamilton moved FIRST, Petrov followed him. Hamilton moved several times to break the tow line and Petrov followed him.

There was no attempt by Petrov to overtake.

This is racing fs. Hamilton had worked hard to get that position and forced Petrov into a mistake. What would be the point in F1 if he just had to sit in a straight line and let Petrov past?

Hamiltons move was legit. Seems to me that the only people who have a problem with it is the Hamilton haters IMO.

Seems that in race pace the Mclarens and Ferraris are a lot closer to the Red Bulls than they are in Quali. I wonder if Hamilton or Alonso would have let Vettel get such an easy pass on the start that Webber gave him….certainly I think that either Hamilton or Alonso would have given him more of a race TBH.

Mclaren/Ferrari made a total mess of Quali…need to get themselves sorted for China or they risk letting RBR run away with this.


it looks like Ferrari are hoping to lose WDC. it sounds good for McLaren and RedBull. for the second race in a row much faster Alonso is being held by Massa


At some point Alonso is gonna have to be more aggressive with Masssa because Ferrari will not tell Massa to move over for Alonso at this stage of the Championship. The have learned a lesson and will not want to be see as favoring a driver.


True. As how put it: compared to how rough Kubica & Heidfeld got it on with each other back in the BMW days, Alonso seems to be wary of being aggressive towards his teammates. It’s probably because he doesn’t want to risk both cars for the sake of constructors’ points.

His current hesitations in having a real, solid go at Massa could be traced back to his hesitation in making a committed overtaking move on Hamilton back in Indy ’07.

Check it out in youtube, at 2.00mins


massa seems to be keeping his head down and racking up those points. he seems to be keeping a low profile and getting on with it. lets hope he can get the job done this year , he deserves to be a world champ.


Hamilton getting a warning was the right thing to do after all there was no danger and Petrov didn’t have the speed or position to even attempt overtaking and weaving stopped before breaking zone. Right call. As well right call not penalizing Vettel for overtaking a backmarker car running very slow in yellow flag zone especially since he had lifted considerably. Good to see sensible steward decisions and them being on top of it right away. Very good race. Many good fights and overtakes was well worth getting up at 3am to watch.


I enjoyed the race today but was also hoping for rain, it could have been a classic. Would have been nice to see Lewis take the lead for a short time. His drive deserved better than his placing.

Great stuff from Kubica again, where would be in Webber’s place?

Bring on China!



I am starting to like and rate Alonso more every race (I used to loathe the man in 05-06!).

I cannot see any other driver not just nursing a sick car but racing a sick car in those conditions like he did today…. and if he qualifies decently for the rest of the season…. Vettle better hope his car stays fast because the Scuderia will pip him!

I am a massive Massa fan too, and perhaps i’m judging him too early, he is top of the charts afterall, but he has ‘destroyed’ the last 2 Ferrari races in my book…. harsh term but there is something less menacing about him in comparison to Kubica, Alonso, Hamilton…. he needs to get aggresive! let him know Mr Smedley!

Regarding Hamilton’s outrageous ‘illegal’ swerving… how great did that look!!!

Bring on China!

ps. M.Webber – sort it out mate!


“I cannot see any other driver not just nursing a sick car but racing a sick car in those conditions like he did today…”

I remember Michael Schumacher finished 2nd at the 1994 Spainish GP after being stuck in 5th gear for the most of the race.


me too…. but that was then! the King is dead… Long live…!


I seem to remember Kimi doing a similar thing to Lewis at Spa in 08. Only i seem to remember it was Lewis that got punished, funny that.


Lewis was penalised due to cutting the chicane and not for weaving.

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