Sebastian Vettel stormed to victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, leading home a Red Bull one-two ahead of Mark Webber with Nico Rosberg completing the podium for Mercedes.
It was third time lucky for the German after mechanical failures robbed him of victory in the opening two races of the season but once he had sped past Rosberg and pole-sitter Webber to lead through the first corner, victory was never in doubt.
Renault’s Robert Kubica followed up last week’s second place in Melbourne with another strong showing in fourth, ahead of Adrian Sutil’s Force India.
The German held off McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, who was sixth, for the second half of the race.
The McLarens and Ferraris started on the back four rows of the grid after misjudging the conditions in qualifying on Saturday but Hamilton made light of starting in 20th place by surging into the points by the end of the fourth lap.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa followed Hamilton through the field to finish in seventh place from 21st on the grid and take the lead in the championship from team mate Fernando Alonso, who failed to finish.
Massa has 39 points, Alonso and Vettel 37 with McLaren’s world champion Jenson Button on 35.
Button crossed the line in eighth place after a stirring battle with Alonso until the Spaniard retired on the penultimate lap.
‘Force India ready to win points regularly’
A delighted Adrian Sutil believes Force India are now ready to fight for points in every race following his strong fifth finish.
“It was always very close with Lewis just behind in the closing stages, but I knew that if I didn’t make mistakes I wouldn’t have problems. So, it was just a case of trying to concentrate. I had to push, but it was under control,” he said.
Team boss Vijay Mallya agreed that Force India had now proved it was a consistent points contender. “Three races and three times in the points, I am absolutely delighted,” he said.
Cursed Webber cuts hand
Webber, regarded as one of the unluckier drivers in Formula One, almost fell victim to bizarre misfortune just moments after qualifying in pole position on Saturday.
Elated after his good performance, Webber tried to slide down a staircase railing on his way back from the press room to his garage. The Australian glided down a little faster than he anticipated, crashed into a wall and cut his right hand.
The 33-year-old Webber finished second, untroubled by the small injury.