Kimi Raikkonen has dominated the Malaysian Grand Prix, winning with outright pace after the first round of pit stops. Although the pass on team mate Felipe Massa was made in the pit lane, it was Kimi’s sensational in-lap that sealed the deal for Finn. It wasn’t all plain-sailing for Ferrari though as Massa failed to finish again. McLaren collected a few points and did the best they could from their starting positions, while the second podium of 2008 saw a different three drivers receive trophies.
From Raikkonen’s perspective, the race must have been a little dull, his F2008 having the pace to be able to win comfortable from the others. Although he couldn’t quite get past his team mate from the grid, Kimi kept Massa within sight and as soon as the Brazilian peeled off to pit himself, the hammer went down and Kimi piled on the pressure. By the time the Finn exited the pitlane it was over and Massa was behind.
Further back the McLaren’s made ground on the start and generally speaking everyone was on their best behaviour going into turn one. A few wheels banged together but nobody had any serious offs; it seems as though the drivers have calmed down from the hectic Australian Grand Prix last weekend.
By the time the first round of stops loomed Lewis Hamilton looked to be good for a podium finish, reclaiming some points from a poor weekend for McLaren. However, his first stop didn’t go to plan and the front-right tyre caused problems. In total the Briton was stationary for just shy of twenty seconds and the possible-podium faded very quickly.
Felipe Massa was running in second for much of the race, having conceded the position to Raikkonen after failing to re-pass on the track following the pitstops. However, on lap 31 Massa spun his Ferrari at turn seven and got trapped in the gravel pit. The incident appeared to be driver error, although the rear of the car did move strangely. Without traction control though, it is easy to have a silly spin as most drivers demonstrated at Albert Park.
The retirement of Massa will punish Ferrari in the constructors, the Brazilian driver is yet to complete a full race distance this season. However, his poor showing in Malaysia helped BMW and Robert Kubica toke the year’s second podium for BMW, matching Nick Heidfeld’s P2 from Australia. Although Kubica had a reasonably quiet race, the Pole drive well and earned a valuable eight points. This result, combined with Heidfeld’s sixth means BMW sit just behind McLaren in the constructors in second, five points behind the Woking team but eight ahead of Ferrari.
Jarno Trulli emphasised the improvements made to the Toyota car by claiming fourth place, the Italian driving well all race to fend off the advances of Lewis Hamilton. Unfortunately, Timo Glock suffered another non-finish as he eventually retired his TF108. Of the double finishers though were Red Bull, a pleasing result after all that happened on Friday and Saturday. Mark Webber scored the team’s first points of the year with a seventh place finish, and David Coulthard ended up just behind in ninth.
Renault performed better in Malaysia with Fernando Alonso collecting one point from eighth and Nelson Piquet Jr finishing the race without major drama. Honda too got both cars to the finish with Jenson Button in tenth and Rubens Barrichello in thirteenth. Super Aguri also managed the feat with Anthony Davidson in fifteenth ahead of Takuma Sato in sixteenth.
The Force Indias had a mixed result, enjoying a superb twelfth place from Giancarlo Fisichella but showing frustration at a spin from Adrian Sutil that resulted in retirement. Scuderia Toro Rosso also had a poor race, with Sebastian Vettel peeling off the track with another blown Ferrari engine and Sebastien Bourdais becoming the first of the retirements with a slide off the track and a trip through the gravel.
All in all the race was quite dull. The rain stayed away and it became a tour-de-Ferrari in the end. The real positive to come away from this weekend is the fact that Ferrari are not as bad as their Australia form hinted at, which should make for a great championship. The podium was also completely different to Australia’s, making the title race already look very interesting.