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Malaysian Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Mar 2013   |  1:00 am GMT  |  424 comments

The Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang is notorious for delivering entertaining races and this year’s event was no different.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel disobeyed his own team to battle past Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber and snatch his first victory of the season at Sepang and 27th of his career.

Webber drove brilliantly to rise from fifth on the grid to take the lead before turning his engine down and getting overtaken by his team-mate in the closing stages.

Mercedes showed they had made impressive progress since last season with Lewis Hamilton securing his first podium for his new team and Nico Rosberg riding shotgun one place behind in fourth.

Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne survived a pit lane collision with Caterham’s Charles Pic to score his first point of the season.

Jenson Button demonstrated that McLaren had made a step forward and was on course to finish around fifth before an error from his pit crew – but who was your Driver of the Day?

Sebastian Vettel

Showed his ruthless side by passing team-mate Webber despite being told to hold position. Made a clean start from pole and survived getting tapped by Fernando Alonso at Turn Two. Was one of the first to make the call to change to slick tyres, but it proved to be a lap or two early and he lost the lead to Webber. Couldn’t leapfrog the Australian during the stops, but began catching him in the final stint. Came close to colliding with Webber as they battled for the lead despite being told to hold position. Eventually muscled his way through with 10 laps to go before easing to his first victory of the season and 27th of his career. He also took the lead in the drivers’ championship.

Mark Webber

Pitted at the right time for slick tyres to take the lead after a brilliant start but lost the lead after team-mate Vettel ignored team orders. Found himself in the lead after sensibly waiting longer than most to change from inters to slick tyres. Showed good pace and controlled the race at the front until the final phase of the race. Turned his engine down after the team told both drivers to hold station, but came under attack from Vettel in the closing stages. Fought to defend his position, but lost out to the German and looked dejected with second.

Lewis Hamilton

Forced to save fuel in the closing stages, but showed good pace all race to secure his first podium with Mercedes. Benefitted from Alonso’s retirement to run third early on and managed to keep pace with the Red Bulls. Stayed in touch with Vettel and Webber all race, but suffered higher than expected fuel consumption and was forced into fuel saving mode in the closing stages. Was caught by team-mate Rosberg as a result, but retained third after the team told Rosberg to hold station. Secured his best finish of the season to rise to fourth in the drivers’ championship.

Nico Rosberg

Showed good pace all race and managed his tyres and fuel consumption to finish fourth. Lost a place to Button at the start from fifth, but climbed up a place when Alonso retired. Stayed in touch with team-mate Hamilton who in turn kept pace with the leaders. Conserved his tyres so that he had speed in the final stint of the grand prix but was instructed not to pass Hamilton, even though he felt he was faster, and finished fourth for his first points of the season.

Jean-Eric Vergne

Scored his first point of the year having started down in 17th. Made a good start and kept his nose clean at the first sequence of corners. Showed good pace throughout the race and ran as high as eighth. Survived a pit lane collision with Charles Pic after his team released him into the path of the Caterham. Once the team changed his front wing, he returned to the track and managed to salvage a top 10 finish to score the Toro Rosso’s first point of the season.

Jenson Button

Led the race for two laps and showed McLaren had made a step forward, but saw a points-finish disappear with an error by his pit crew. Starting seventh, he positioned his car well into the first sequence of corners to run fourth, dropping a place to fifth after the first stops. Ran in that position for much of the race, though took the lead briefly during a flurry of stops, but lost time when he was released without the right front wheel being securely fastened. Rejoined 14th but retired a few laps later.

So who was your Driver of the Day? Leave a comment at the bottom of this story. 

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424comments

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1

Vettel was as ruthless as Senna, Prost and Schumacher used to be.

But my ‘driver of the day’ title goes to Webber – he produced a (nearly) perfect race. A small recognition that ruthless Seb won’t take away from him.

2

Driver of the day was “Cinturato”. I’m all for the way Pirelli handled last year, but this race the tires were over the top. I hope its not the way of the rest of the season. None of the drivers were driving more than 8 tenths for the majority of the race, even from the start if it had been dry, as Vettel alluded to after qualifying. Give the control back to the drivers and I’ll give a vote on driver of the race…

3

Vettel

The more drivers refuse to apply… ‘silly’ team orders, the less team principals will dare to call team orders and spoil the competition. In the end you’re all crying for your Commonwealth hero because he didn’t win what would have been a worthless win, with 10 laps to go and with Vettel unfairly prevented from using the tyre advantage he earned on the track on Saturday. Shame on you.

Reminds me when Mark boasted his win in Brazil 2011 was the real thing because Vettel really had a gearbox problem… What the fuck ? Defeating your teammate because he has gearbox problem is hardly more glorious than defeating him because he let you win.

4

I have to say, I was really hard on Rosberg, but he did drive a great race. Sure, Hamilton having to go into fuel saving mode was the reason why he was caught, but even in the first couple of tire runs before fuel became a big problem, Rosberg was notably quicker after a number of laps into a run, while Hamilton was quicker during the best laps of the tire cycle. And he was very strong in qualifying as well. In the interview after the race with Sky, he said the line “There will be a time to fight between teammates” with a lot of confidence- the confidence of someone who really believes they can take on their teammate. Rosberg, in my mind, really deserves driver of the day.

Hamilton better up his game. He might just be facing the toughest teammate he has ever faced.

5

webber. bring back the poll/voting system james

6

I am really really very confused as to why on earth Button is considered driver of the day?????????. What did he do? Why are we being fed all this rubbish about how bad the car is and then it isnt? Suddenly the mclaren is a bad car,then depending on where button manages to run in the race its a good car? I thought it was just because he cannot drive the car fast enough..simple as. He has lost his true reference point in Hamilton. All he was ever focused on was beating Hamilton,now he has gone the whole team have no true reference point for the actual capability of the car..no one else find it strange how without him a good team goes very bad and a bad team just gets more competitive?.

7

Vergne.

3 stopped when everyone else went for 4, lost 20+ seconds through a team pit error and still got a point.

He’s had the clear upper hand over Ricciardo so far this season.

8

I have skipped reading James analysis because results wise only the 3 on podium or any other driver in the top ten is definetly NOT the rule that should be followed.

Jules Bianchi has to be DOD, a rookie in a poor machinery and never been to Sepang before.

Forget the Webbers, Vettels or Hamiltons for a while, the next generation of F-1 drivers has come.

9

Driver of the Day – Mark Webber .. happy surfing Mark, McLaren should call you and offer you a drive for next year – hopefully the 2014 car will better than this year – instead of Perez (no offence to Sergio) he can move to Redbull!

10

Rosberg, he was one of the fastest driver all weekend, having watched living timing his pace was pretty impressive and had ross brawn greenlighted him ahead of hamilton he could have given vettel some trouble. and because rosberg showed immense respect and magnanimity for the team.

and webber, he had pretty much controlled race, it was obvious he was deprived of victory.

and my honorable mention goes to jules bianchi…

11

Vettel for DOTD

Funny a few days ago I really thought I didn’t have a favorite driver. Things change quickly.

Now I have a favorite driver, several I really like, and 2 I absolutely can not stand.

First the easy one, Alonso. I have seen on another site Alonso blaming Vettel for Alonso hitting Vettel. His team has taken credit for keeping him out on that wing, yet during the race Will Buxton reported from the pits that Ferrari was ready for Alonso to come in.

Webber, this might be unfair but on consideration of his behavior after the race it probably isn’t.

Let me make my case:

First his behavior after the race was disgraceful. You just do not ever under any circumstances air your dirty laundry in public. Mulit 21 or Multi 12 or single 2 whatever the call.

Second Horner was pretty firm on the that both had had their engine’s mapped to the fuel saving settings. In fact you can look at this graph http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/03/24/2013-malaysian-grand-prix-lap-times-fastest-laps/ and compare the times for Hamilton, Webber, and Vettel and clearly see they were both on the same engine power. If that doesn’t work you can watch the race again and see Webber fend off Vettel for a few laps.

Weber’s fastest lap was lap 45 @ 100.69 while Vettel fastest lap was also lap 45 @ 100.45. It is clear that Vettel had a .07-.06 second advantage due to the tires he had on vs the ones Webber used.

Vettel opted for used set of hard tires on an earlier stop, as his strategy was to make sure he had the longer lasting and faster medium tires for the last stint. Webber was unable to execute this strategy for whatever reason.

Third the false claim that Webber was pulling away from Vettel when Vettel asked for Webber to be moved aside. In fact MW was driving too slow and had just been told to speed and drive to a high 1:41 instead of the 1:42 he just ran. That coincided with Vettel being told slow down and hold a gap. He made that gap around 1 second. So no Webber was not pulling away from Vettel except by RBR commands to establish a fixed gap. Another website has reported that gap was to be 3 seconds.

Fourth as stated and referenced plenty on here, Webber has stated that he doesn’t feel like he should be subject to team orders. Pretty hypocritical for him to now think Vettel should.

Fith the one sided way that the press has portrayed Webber as the wronged angel and his supporters have pilloried Vettel for doing what his team should have allowed in the first place. This type of tabloid journalism is disgusting, and for it Mr. Webber pays the price.

Last the team orders that were broadcast and clear were to Vettel that he would be able to race Mark at the end of the race and it was a long race to conserve the car. I guess RBR panicked and did the multi21 call which I guess is “multiple car points finish 2 car then 1″or something like that.

Vettel did what the team should have done, raced! 7 points are too many to subject to chance.

If I were Vettel, I would have demanded that Mark not be brought back after Brazil. I would dang sure go in now and demand that he be sacked. If not, I would go to a new team next year. RBR has already said they would not force Vettel to stay and I would hold them at their word, or call their bluff. Ferrari, MC, Merc, Lotus, and others would just love to have the chance to scoop him up. After all if Vettel was so average why hasn’t Webber won more WDC’s?

12

You know, I think you really hit the nail on the head. You can call what Vettel did devious, but by God, he is a champion, and in his mind, he is not going to be told to follow the guy he beat the last three years home. Because THAT is how champions think. I just wish he was more of a man about it than he was after the race.

The big problem for this is for the management at Red Bull. They absolutely MUST draw a line in the sand, or they risk completely losing control of the team to Vettel. Christian Horner especially is on the hot seat. He was completely weak and ineffective in his handling of the situation in the race. He gets on the radio and tells Vettel “Come on, Seb, stop being silly.” If you want to have a hope in hell of your three-time defending world champion driver to obey you when you tell him to follow his teammate home, you damn sure better come at him with something stronger than that. I can only imagine how Ross Brawn- who has handled the biggest ego of all drivers on the planet- would have handled the situation: he would have been much more harsh in tone and language. I mean, did you hear how he handled Rosberg on the radio when he told him to follow Hamilton? He sounded like an angry father smacking his problem child across the rear with a very sharp belt. That is how the team principal should be. He should be big, bad papa to the little children (drivers). He should be feared and respected.

There is absolutely nothing Christian Horner has that strikes fear or inspires respect. He’s the rich dad who doesn’t give a toss about raising his kids as long as the money is coming in, and then one day his little brat becomes a full-blown monster who grows a mohawk and listens to dub step and is completely out of his control.

I honestly can’t see this end any other way than that Vettel or Webber ends up leaving the team. And honestly, I think it could be Vettel before Webber. He’s a three-time world champion, and he expects to be treated accordingly. He has a strong argument to make regarding the size of his contribution to the success of the team. Simply put, they didn’t start winning until he got there. (Hell, the year before, he beat Red Bull with the Junior team!) That’s what his move was all about: making a statement. He will not be told to follow Webber home. If there is a chance for him to win, he will take it. If there is a chance to gain 7 more valuable points on perhaps his chief title rival on a day in which he retires, he will certainly take it. Because he is the three-time champion. Red Bull will push back hard, I think. Marko will not let Vettel control his team, even if he supports him. Because that isn’t how it works with Helmut Marko. The pressure will be applied on Vettel, and Vettel will respond by telling them he could easily take his talents elsewhere to a team that will respect his status.

13

Wanted to vote Alonso, but he’s not in the list.

WEBBER as DOTD. But so many drove well especially Jules Bianchi, gotta watch this Bianchi.

14

Vettel – Reasons:

a. Promised on radio that ‘we are only half way thru and not to charge for lead now, you can challenge later’

b. My tyres were in better condition and faster than driver ahead of me. If driver ahead of me has slower tyre its his problem as I lost position in start for same reason!!

c. I started from pole, there were still 15 laps and no sensible driver will cruise for 15 laps. (except for Nico who did unwillingly!!)

d. To show I can ‘overtake’ to people who keep saying I cannot!!

e. Does this mean that we have put down our guns everytime we approach end of race to gather “points” for team, when will I score for myself.

15

WEBBER for me.

He just drove an (almost) flawless race. There is no doubt that Vettel is a better driver than Webber, much as I dislike Vettel there is no denying his talent.

On this day in history though up until the final pitstop Webber had more than the measure of Vettel. He started better, got the first pitstop *exactly* right, drove fast when needed and looked after his car when needed.

Not long after Vettels “He’s too slow move him out of the way” comments Webber pulled out a handy gap – if he was that slow Mr Vettel then why couldn’t you pass him on the track during the period of the race that your team had all agreed you’d actually be racing for?

During the battle the two drivers had the driving from both of them was top drawer stuff, it seemed that Webber eventually thought sod it gave up the place and then seethed around in 2nd place until the finish. Could have parked it in the garage in ultimate frustration, could have taken out both Vettel and himself but was professional.

He even managed (more or less) to keep a lid on it in post race interviews. Respect to you Mark. Excellent drive in my book.

Honourable mentions to Button for getting more out of his McLaren than seemed possible and to Rosberg for being surprisingly quick.

16

Vettel!

He showed that he is the man to beat.

17

Rosberg from list the above but would have picked Bianchi if he was on the list.

18

Button, Bianchi and Hulkenberg. All did outstanding performances

19

I would say Lewis cause Im a BIG fan, but gotta hand it to Nico, he handled that well.

So DOTD IMO, Nico Rosberg.

That said, IMO the reason why he was told to hold position was because the team screwed up and under fueled Lewis, and didnt want to ruin his up even more.

20

Webber !!!

James, do you know if there are any restrictions for drivers -or for Mark- for quitting or changing teams once the championship has started??

What could happen if McLaren wants to get rid of Perez / Lotus of Grosjean, etc. and a seat opens up in the middle of the season??

21
John MacMicking

Webber all the way, really do miss the poll James!

22

Vettel is a ‘worthy’ successor to Schumacher, both in terms of racing ability and ethics. He was clearly aware that he had some explaining to do after the Malaysian GP, and understandably Mark Webber was justifiably unhappy, to put it mildly. Lewis Hamilton in third was not happy either, but at least this seemed to be, as he said on the podium, that he felt that Nico Rosberg should have been there instead. Nico was very philosophical when interviewed, so my order of drivers of the day is Rosberg, Hamilton and Weber, with Vettel in negative territory. JB was very unlucky too.

23

Webber.

I’d love to see this particular engine of Vettels blow up the next time it is used – 15 laps prior to the end of a race he is leading. Would be gold.

There used to be a graphic on the internet of where teams schedule engines – wouldn’t mind knowing where Redbull use these engines next – from memory they use the 1st engine in the 1st 3 races?

24

Hamilton – for his graceful behavior at the presentation

Rosberg – for being a team player

26

Alonso could ve done the same, ruthless but brutal reality to achieve the goal in F1.

So DOD is Vettel

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