OllieF1
Malaysia 2008: The World Champion Asserts Authority

Malaysia 2008: The World Champion Asserts Authority

Kimi Raikkonen - 2008 Malaysian Grand PrixKimi 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.

Oliver White

4 comments

  • Hi Ollie,

    With massa out 2nd time in a row (I’m quite happy with it,since I’m becomming the only anti-ferrari italian in the world) ferrari might have to give him some driving lessons in howto handle their car without tractioncontrol.

    I’m pleased to se Trulli hitting some points, he really puched the car, and his one-hand driving skills are scary! 300kph and just hold the steeringwheel with one hand, impressive!

    Fisico did well considering the barrel he is driving him, You’d expect that Force Indias THE “ex-jordan team” should have some improvements in their sleeves to become more competitive, don’ you think?

    Renault really needs to push through with more new improvements now they are heading back to europe, otherwise alonso wont even get on the podium this year.

  • Massa’s already received some help from seven times champion Schumacher, so I don’t see what else the team can do. But Trulli does have mad one-handed skills.

    I think Force India will improve with time but twelfth is impressive to me. Renault won’t win until 2009 now. They’ll improve and if a wet race catches others out Alonso might land some luck, but other than that he’s gonna have to wait until next year at the earliest; the R28 just isn’t that great.

    But, the good side of this is I think it saves Fisichella some. Those who called him crap last season are now back-tracking a little as Mr Sixth Tenths can’t do much more with the car.

  • Jarno Trulli was very impressive today – I liked how he kept his head when Hamilton was charging at him in a vain attempt to catch up, and his ability to maintain pace was really good today as well.

    This was a really good day to be a Force India/Fisichella fan, even if the cameras contrived to miss nearly all of it. Considering that Fisi had such a dodgy start (from a qualifying position that owed more to bad luck than anything else), I thought the way he patiently yet doggedly made up ground and places was great. If Fisi can get twelfth from there, what would he do with a better qualifying slot, a better start and/or rain?

    As for the last statement, I can tell you that even some of the anti-Fisi people in one of the forums I frequent had to admit they were impressed by today’s run. And that was without anyone thinking to reference it to his replacement, which in Nelson Piquet Jr.’s case, I am beginning to believe should be placed in inverted commas. A dangerous line of thinking (there’s still time for him to turn out to be another Kovalainen) but I didn’t expect Piquet Jr to be faring so badly in the Renault this year.

    I think Alonso had a point about the six-tenths, but I think he can only get the full thrust of that advantage when the car is perfect. The worse it is, the less of his natural advantage Alonso can use.

  • “Mr Sixth Tenths” – LOL, Ollie!

    Clearly the Renault is still well off the pace of the front runners but we should give Alonso his due – he is getting as much from the car as it can give. He also provides strong motivation and direction to this team (as he didn’t to McLaren) and they can make up ground during the season.

    It is great to see Fisichella answering his many critics with his performance on the track. I don’t hear so many plaudits for Sutil suddenly. Could it be that everyone got it wrong and he is not the great rookie talent that McLaren allegedly tried to steal from Force India before settling for Kovalainen? Well, well, I wonder where you heard that first… 😉

    Mr Vettel is another for whose “explosive talent” I still await proof. Yes, he was outstanding in qualifying in Melbourne but he was less impressive in Sepang. One swallow does not a summer make. Time to get moving, Sebastian – Sebastien is learning quickly…

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