F1 Race Review: Malaysian GP 2008

After the double DNF and a salvaging a solitary point last week, Ferrari hit back with vengeance hit back this time. In one of the most demanding circuits and on the calendar and in an extreme heat, Kimi Räikkönen scorched the tracks to a neat win for the Scuderia after starting on P2 alongside Pole settler Massa who spun out on Lap 31. Kubica logged his best ever result a second place for BMW. While Lewis Hamilton was out of luck today, his team mate Heikki managed a third place for McLaren.

Saturday’s battle for pole positions saw Felipe Massa set the fastest lap for an all Ferrari front row. Second row McLarens were relegated to 8-9 after being awarded a five place grid penalty each for impeding other drivers in Q3 who were on a fast lap. Force India again failed to make the cut to Q2 and had to be satisfied with P17 & 21. The first lap action saw Massa sliding to the right to keep Kimi in check till he took the lead at Turn one. While Trulli and Heidfeld dropped significantly, Kubica & Webber gained.

Unlike last week, this race day did not see as many spins and crashes. Maybe the lack of traction control is now getting clearer to all. Felipe Massa nevertheless managed a self goal by spinning out at a seemingly zero stress situation in what was a comfortable second place for him. The other who spun out was four time American Champ Car Champion Sebastian Bourdais. In all, there were only five DNFs. Though there was a talk about rain, it didn’t turn up. There were no surprises with Safety Car periods either.

Lewis Hamilton had a terrible weekend this time. After having started from P9, he quickly made up places to fifth until his team made a botched 20 second pit stop dropping him to eleventh, after which he faced quite an uphill battle for fifth. Towards the end of the race, he unsuccessfully battled with Trulli, whose Toyota surprisingly held off a McLaren. Today seemed a perfect day for Kimi who made up for last week’s nightmare. Old warhorse Fernando Alonso took the last point at eighth after some interesting battles.

Ferrari may have won this race, but still their worries may not be over. If last week’s engine troubles were not enough, the Ferrari powered Toro Rosso of Vettel blew up. The Scuderia seriously needs more reliability! BMWs were in great form and soon, we may even see a BMW victory. Among the midfielders, the Red Bull of Webber and Trulli’s Toyota did well. Desi, Force India had one DNF. Fisichella managed a twelfth place in what would have been thirteenth if not for Rubens Barrichello’s drive through.

The Championship standings now look more representative with Ferrari joining the table. Lewis Hamilton now leads with 14 with Kimi and Nick Heidfeld just three points behind. Heikki Kovalainen with 10 points is not far behind either. For the Constructors’, McLaren now has a neat lead of 24 points against 19 and 11 of BMW and Ferrari, in that order. Last week’s performers Williams were dismal at Sepang and added no points to their 9. In what appears a three way battle now, things are already getting interesting!