Despite being skirted by rain storms throughout the race, the Malaysian Grand Prix thankfully remained dry and delivered a spectacular race. It was the first chance to see what Formula One racing 2011-style is really like - and it is good!
The drag reduction system (DRS) rear wings and KERS power boost delivered probably more overtaking manoeuvres than we saw all last season. Meanwhile the rapidly changing Pirelli tyres led to a total, if my notes are correct, of 59 pit stops!
Red Bull boss Christian Horner described their car to pit radio as sounding like "an air traffic controller's nightmare". "You are trying to look at where you are going to emerge, what the degradation is, what tyre you should be using and with two cars, the work rate is colossal" Horner told journalists after the race.Sebastian Vettel was able to control his pace and even though the team asked him not to use his KERS for some of the race (overheating?) he was able to cruise to a well-deserved victory. Mark Webber was less lucky. The failure of his KERS to operate on the run into the first corner squandered his row two starting position.
Webber's drive back from 10th place to an eventual 4th was probably one of his best drives ever, but it also shows that reliability is going to be the key to winning this year's championship.
Meanwhile despite pre-season problems, the McLaren cars have been reliable in the first two races and Red Bull's closest challenger. It is their pit wall race strategies that have let them down. While Jenson Button had a strong race to second place in Sepang, Lewis Hamilton was left bemoaning a bungled tyre strategy that robbed him of a podium finish and put him in conflict with the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
Hamilton had looked good until his third pit stop when the team fitted a set of already used, hard compound tyres to the McLaren.
Had they been brand-new Hamilton might have stretched them to reach the chequered flag without a fourth pitstop. However the used tyres started to lose performance rapidly, allowing Alonso to close in and make the misjudged bid for third place that let to the collision.
Ferrari struggled in qualifying but their race pace has been strong. Adrian Newey has admitted that Ferrari and McLaren will be Red Bull's main threats in China.