• Malaysian Grand Prix

Driver-by-driver run down

Laurence Edmondson and Chris Medland April 10, 2011
A full field of 24 cars starts the Malaysian Grand Prix ... not all of them finished © Getty Images
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Sebastian Vettel - 1st - His perfect start to the season continued as he took his second pole and second win of 2011. The McLarens were close in qualifying, but Vettel kept Hamilton at bay in the first corner and then built up a 7.4 second buffer after 10 laps - mostly thanks to Heidfeld's fast start. His position briefly looked under threat when his KERS failed at half distance but by then Hamilton's charge had started to wane.

Jenson Button - 2nd - After a disappointing first race and twice being out-qualified by his team-mate, second place in Sepang was a very solid result for Button. He managed his race well despite losing position at the start to the two Renaults. At each pit stop he added angle to his front wing and by the final stint had perfected his balance for the hard tyres as Hamilton struggled.

Nick Heidfeld - 3rd - Proof, if it was needed, that Heidfeld is still a very consistent driver. His start was the best on the grid, putting him on the outside in to turn one but crucially on the inside for turn two. After that he used his KERS efficiently to keep Hamilton at bay, although probably stayed out too long on his first set of tyres. Nevertheless, he kept in the mix and pounced on mistakes by Alonso and Hamilton to take his first podium since the Malaysian GP in 2009.

Mark Webber - 4th - If his KERS had been working he could have finished second. He lost six places in the first two laps and then struggled to fight for position as he was out-accelerated by all his adversaries. On the plus side he managed to make a four-stop strategy work - the only driver to do so - underlining the raw pace of the Red Bull.

Felipe Massa - 5th - A strong race compared to his performance in Australia, but still short of where he and Ferrari would like to be. His plight wasn't helped by a slow first pit stop which dropped him three places, although his main concern is still the considerable gap to Alonso in qualifying.

Fernando Alonso - 6th - It was so nearly a podium, but an uncharacteristic error saw him clip Hamilton as he tried to take third place. The mistake was penalised after the race but had no effect on his finishing position and he duly accepted it. Despite that, it was a positive race as he showed the Ferrari is capable of snapping at the heels of McLaren and Red Bull in race conditions, even if it's still a second adrift in qualifying.

Kamui Kobayashi - 7th - The only driver in the top ten to make a two-stop strategy work. For much of the race he was defending rather than attacking, but he handled it all maturely in the knowledge that he would gain back the positions in the pits. It was also further proof that the Sauber is a competitive car.

Lewis Hamilton - 8th - His race was compromised before it began as one of his sets of soft tyres had been damaged in qualifying and couldn't be used. It meant he had to take on hard tyres at his second pit stop and they were simply no match for the softs on his rivals' cars. Things went from bad to worse when Alonso appeared in his mirrors and made contact trying to overtake. Hamilton's bullish defence on the previous lap resulted in a post-race penalty, capping a disastrous day.

Michael Schumacher - 9th - He got a good start to get up to eighth on the first lap, but any hope the Mercedes would be quicker in race trim than it was in qualifying soon evaporated as he found himself back outside the top ten after the second stops. He battled back for two points, but it was hardly a convincing performance.

Paul di Resta - 10th - Two points from two races is an impressive record for a rookie, especially one driving a lower-midfield car. Crucial to the result was a well-timed first pit stop and a couple of brave overtaking manoeuvres that saw him slice through the field.

Adrian Sutil - 11th - Contact with Barrichello at the start meant he had to pit for a new front wing, dropping him down the order. From that point he had a very solid race on what was effectively a two-stop strategy and finished 9.8 seconds off his team-mate.

Nico Rosberg - 12th - A poor start dropped him back from ninth, and as Norbert Haug put it: "If you lose four places with our current technical package, it is difficult to recover". His mindset was summed up when he backed out of a battle with Di Resta.

Sebastien Buemi - 13th - Had a good start which was crucial to his two-stop strategy, but undid all his work by speeding in the pit lane. The resulting stop and go penalty ruined his race, though he still managed to win the internal team battle.

Jaime Alguersuari - 14th - Made an even better start than his team-mate, but soon started slipping backwards as he struggled with his tyres having made only two stops, saying "I feel that finishing the race was in itself an achievement". A day to forget.

Heikki Kovalainen - 15th - An encouraging performance, and Lotus' most competitive so far. Made a two-stop strategy work, and preserved his tyres enough to take seven seconds out of Alguersuari in the final lap, ultimately finishing just 0.4s down.

Timo Glock - 16th - Got ahead of Trulli in to turn one, but Virgin's lack of pace was evident after that. Showed good reliability to capitalise on retirements but still a long way from the midfield, finishing two laps down.

Vitaly Petrov - 17th - He made a lightning-quick start and was on for a solid score until he ran wide coming out of turn eight. Naively kept his foot in and flew off the kerb when trying to rejoin, which will give him a sore back to add to his frustration if throwing away points so late.

Tonio Liuzzi - DNF - Will have been pleased to show decent pace at the back, and some reliability to complete 46 laps before he was retired as a precautionary measure with a damaged rear wing. Still a long way to go for the team though.

Jerome d'Ambrosio - DNF - Drove a solid if unspectacular race, and was running comfortably behind his team-mate when he hit a kerb too hard and was unfortunate to find his ignition switched off.

Jarno Trulli - DNF - A slow start didn't help as he lost places off the line, and then went off after locking up in to turn one after leaving the pit lane. A scruffy race compared to his team-mate, ended prematurely when his clutch went.

Sergio Perez - DNF - Hadn't made any headway from his 14th place starting position when a stray bit of debris from a Toro Rosso set off his fire extinguisher and cut out his electrics. Unable to show if he can back up his impressive debut.

Rubens Barrichello - DNF - An early puncture that struck just as he passed the pit lane entrance ruined his race, before a hydraulics problem ended it. A less eventful, but equally disappointing race as Melbourne.

Narain Karthikeyan - DNF - Was getting dropped off the back when water temperatures forced him to retire in order to protect the engine. Still only completed a handful of laps in the car.

Pastor Maldonado - DNF - An early engine misfire gave him no opportunity to try and make up places. First to retire in both races this season through no fault of his own.

Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010