Soaking Sepang sorts out stars
Ferrari were short of ideas in Sepang while Brawn GP covered themselves with glory yet again. It may have been frustrating to have first, the monsoon, then bad light stopping play, robbing us of the full race distance in the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the decision to stop the race at the end of the 32nd lap was absolutely justified, writes Steve Slater.india Updated: Apr 06, 2009 23:19 IST
It may have been frustrating to have first, the monsoon, then bad light stopping play, robbing us of the full race distance in the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the decision to stop the race at the end of the 32nd lap was absolutely justified. A Malaysian monsoon and F1 cars simply do not mix.
However, the action on the track really showed up some heroes and zeros this weekend — among the drivers and, even more so, among the teams.
The clear winners were Brawn GP and Jenson Button. Rubens Barrichello had looked set to grab a podium place at least, but slow pitstops — four of them — dropped him down the order. He was eventually a frustrated fifth. If any team could be said to have scored a perfect ten, it was Toyota. Jarno Trulli was just a tenth of a second away from pole position, battled for the lead, and, but for an over-conservative early choice of full wet weather tyres, would have been on the podium.
As it was, Toyota team-mate Timo Glock took third place. Despite dropping from third on the grid to eighth by the end of the opening lap, the German fought back and his gamble on the less heavily treaded intermediate tyres before the heavy rain started, allowed him to leap up the leaderboard and steal the podium place.
In fact when the red flags came out, Glock was running second, but because the results were counted back to the end of the preceding lap, his German compatriot Nick Heidfeld was awarded the runners-up spot.
Off the podium, mention should also be made of initial race leader Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. All delivered potential podium performances and, but for the pitlane poker courtesy rain, all three could have been better rewarded.
I make no excuse about making particular mention of Lewis Hamilton. He and his team could not have had a tougher lead-up to the race and I think that quite rightly, Lewis is going to have to bear the stigma of his dishonest statements to the stewards for the rest of his career.
So, if they were the achievers, who were the under-achievers? Among the drivers, for the second race in succession, Hamilton's team-mate has to qualify as the top loser. As in Australia, Heikki Kovalainen didn't even get past lap one.
But if you want the top loser in the team category, look no further than Ferrari. The rot began in qualifying when the team thought that Massa had gone fast enough in four laps, to progress into the second stage. They thought wrong and Massa could barely contain his frustration when he found himself 16th on the grid. Besides, what were they thinking when they put Kimi Raikkonen on full wet tyres at least 15 minutes before it even started raining.
The writer is a race commentator on STAR Sports