UPDATED F1 Malaysia Race Results & Report: Vettel Takes the Win, Alonso & Hamilton Collide

What Happens When The Rain Doesn’t Fall

5:57am EST — Sebastian Vettel again dominated, winning the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix comfortably after holding off Lewis Hamilton on the start. In the end, it was Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button who finished second, with Nick Heidfeld completing the podium. Heidfeld had a brilliant start, going from sixth to second in the first turn, and holding off Mark Webber in the final laps. Webber dropped back early, but rallied despite his four pit stops to finish fourth. Felipe Massa finished fifth, ahead of teammate Fernando Alonso, who looked to be nearly on the podium with ten laps left. Instead, he ran into the back of Hamilton, shearing off the endplate on his front wing. Hamilton continued on, but had to pit later and dropped back to finish seventh. Rain fell, but never enough to require intermediate or rain tires, despite predictions to the contrary. The only major incident came from Vitaly Petrov near the end of the race, as he slid off the track, slalomed over a huge bump in the grass, and landed heavily, breaking the steering column in his Renault. He was unhurt.

After the race, Alonso and Hamilton had a chat with the stewards and were each assessed a twenty-second penalty for their actions while tussling over third position. Hamilton received his for “for making more than one change of direction,” whilst defending. Alonso was penalized for “causing a collision,” according to Formula1.com. Little changed in the race results with those penalties (shown in the updated chart below), as Hamilton lost seventh to Kamui Kobayashi. With Hamilton’s penalty and the distance back to Kobayashi, Alonso kept his six-place finish.

Vettel won pole in Saturday’s qualifying with a very quick last lap, breaking Hamilton’s hold on Q3. The weekend had been dominated by Red Bull and McLaren drivers with Webber quickest both Friday morning and afternoon, and Hamilton in the Saturday morning practice. Webber, though slow during much of qualifying, beat Button to start third while Alonso’s only Q3 lap was fifth fastest. Rosberg, starting ninth, shoved teammate Schumacher out in Q2 while the HRTs start their first race of the season, posting times within the 107% rule. Williams struggled, with Barrichello barely making Q2 and Maldonando starting eighteenth. Fifteen minutes before the race began, drops of rain were dotting the pitlane, but most teams and race direction were indicating that there would not be rain for the start.

Most drivers started on soft tires, banking on rain in Malaysia. Vettel led off the line, with Hamilton diving behind, the attempting to pass the German, but instead being forced wide and shoved aside by Heidfeld, who started sixth. Vettel was well away in the first lap, though Schumacher also had a great start, moving up to eighth. Meanwhile, Webber had an absolutely terrible start, though he apparently reported an issue on the formation lap. At the end of the first lap, Vettel led Heidfeld, Hamilton, Button, Petrov, Massa, Alonso, Schumacher, Webber, and Kobayashi as the top ten.

Soon, Kobayashi had passed Webber as well. Barrichello also slowed with a left rear puncture, while Sutil was the first to pit, on L4. Vettel was nearly three seconds ahead of Heidfeld, as the top five spread out a bit: Hamilton another 1.1s behind Heidfeld, Button 2.5s adrtift of Hamilton, and Petrov another 1.4s behind, with Massa challenging him on L4. Petrov had a huge moment, sliding off at the last turn and allowing both Ferraris past. Five laps in, teams were radioing their drivers that rain was on its way and would likely fall in five or ten minutes.

Webber retook ninth from Kobayashi with a decisive move at Turn 14. Kobayashi had a look underneath Webber straightaway at Turn 15, though he didn’t retake the position until the straight with the DRS. At the front, Hamilton was closing up on Heidfeld, while Maldonado (about whom Mike Gascoyne tweeted minutes earlier, “has a sick sounding engine or broken exhaust”) pitted on L9, soon to retire. At the end of L10, Vettel led Heidfeld by nearly seven and a half seconds, with Hamilton, Button, and Massa the top five. Webber pitted as that lap ended, while rain had begun falling in the paddock. di Resta pitted the next time around, as well.

Meanwhile, Hamilton and Massa were just a half second behind the drivers ahead of them (Heidfeld and Button, respectively) and the closest pairs on the track. Hamilton pitted on L12, dropping to tenth. Vettel, Heidfeld, Button, and Massa all pitted on L14, leaving Alonso in the lead. All went to the softer tire as rain was falling in pit lane. Back in sixteenth, Trulli also pitted. Alonso pitted on L15, leaving Petrov in the lead. Button had gained a position on Heidfeld during the stops.

Back on the track, Hamilton, Buemi, and Schumacher were running three wide into Turn 15, until Schuamcher backed out as the meat in that particular sandwich and dove to the pits. Drivers further back from the front were also pitting, though nearly everyone seemed to be going for the soft tires as rain was not falling enough to make inters viable. As the stops shook out, Vettel led again, with Hamilton, Kobayashi, Button, and Alonso as the top five. Kobayashi had not pitted while Alonso dove under Button for fourth (really third). Button tried to go back around Alonso, but the Ferrari driver held him off. Kobayashi left the top three when he pitted on L18, leaving Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Button, and Heidfeld as the top five. Webber had come back nearer the front through the stops, and was then sixth.

Buemi was assessed a 10 second stop and go penalty for speeding in the pit lane during his stop. Meanwhile, Hamilton was continually being reminded by McLaren to conserve his tires. He was five and a half seconds behind race leader Vettel and posting quicker lap times. With twenty laps of the fifty-six lap race over, Vettel led Hamilton, Alonso, who had a three second gap ahead to Hamilton, Button, Heidfeld, Webber, Massa, Petrov, di Resta, and Schumacher as the top ten. All had nearly two seconds or more between them. Buemi took his penalty on L21.

Webber started dropping back again, as Massa neatly overtook him for sixth. Webber immediately pitted. Rain could be seen falling lightly from on-board cameras and collecting on lenses. Button pitted on L24 from fourth, taking another set of softs, and rejoining in seventh. Hamilton pitted the next lap, switching to the hard tire, presumably indicating that McLaren did not anticipate rain in the near future, or the race. At the same time, Barrichello retired, having pulled into the garage. Soon thereafter, Perez pulled off on the straight. L26 brought Vettel into the pit for another tire change, though he stayed on the softs. He rejoined in fourth, just behind Button and Massa.

Hamilton, in sixth, dove down the inside of Petrov for fifth. Both Alonso and Heidfeld pitted on L27 for soft tires. Meanwhile, Vettel attempted to pass Massa for the lead, sliding under the Ferrari into Turn 1, after coming up quickly behind the Brazilian through use of the DRS. Massa pitted on the next lap, as did Petrov. At the halfway point, Vettel led Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Webber, Heidfeld, Massa, Kobayashi, Petrov, and di Resta as the top ten. Schumacher had been a member of that group, fighting with Kobayashi as the younger driver took eighth from him, until the German pitted with no grip.

In the lead, Vettel received confirmation from Red Bull that he was absolutely not to use KERS, leading McLaren to tell Hamilton and Button that they now “had a chance.” Thirty laps into the race, only Alguersuari was under two seconds behind the man in front of him (Schumacher). Webber pitted again on L33, from fifth, switching to the harder tire. Further ahead, Button was catching up his teammate, with only 1.2s separating them, though Vettel was six and a half seconds ahead of Hamilton. While Ferrari informed Alonso that Hamilton was on the harder tire, he calmly responded that they shouldn’t worry and he was pushing. In fact, he was, as the gap between he and Button continued to drop, and drop as well to Hamilton ahead.

Hamilton pitted on L38, with eighteen laps to go, staying on the harder tire, remarkably. The stop was a bit slow, and Hamilton returned to the track in sixth. Teammate Button stopped on the next lap, also on the harder tire. On that stop, Button gained a position and came out in front of Hamilton. Heidfeld pitted next, from third. After his stop, McLaren told Hamilton that there were seventeen laps to go and “we do not want to stop again.” Vettel still led at the end of L40, with Alonso almost sixteen seconds behind, Button third (with the fastest lap of the race to that point), Hamilton fourth, and Webber in fifth. Petrov, Heidfeld, Massa, Schumacher, and Kobayashi completed the top ten.

Vettel stopped on L42, as did Alonso. Vettel kept the lead, while Alonso rejoined in fifth. He was soon just under a second and a half behind Webber, who was a half second behind Hamilton. Meanwhile, Schumacher had an excursion through the gravel in ninth, only to lose the position, and pit. Webber pitted again (for his fourth time) on L44, leaving Alonso ahead and just 1.2s behind Hamilton. Heidfeld, then Massa slid neatly under Petrov for sixth and seventh. Petrov then pitted.

Alonso was pushing hard after Hamilton, just two tenths behind his former teammate at the end of L44. Alonso had a look to the inside, but Hamilton defended. They continued to dice, as Alonso ran into the back of Hamilton, passed him, but was forced to give the position back (and fall well back) after the left front endplate was sheared off. Alonso pitted for a new wing and tires. He rejoined in eighth, behind Webber.

As the laps ticked down, Vettel still led, with Button just under seven seconds behind. Hamilton was another fifteen back, somehow without a puncture after Alonso’s impact, with Heidfeld and Massa the top five. Massa was holding off Webber for fifth, but the Australian was looking for any opportunity to pass. Into Turn 1, the two barely touched, with Webber taking the position, Massa fighting back, but unable to reclaim his former position. A bit ahead, Heidfeld was having a go at catching Hamilton for third. With five laps to go, less than a second separated them.

Heidfeld was very close to Hamilton, who seemed to be struggling, and went neatly past into Turn 1. Webber also took position from Hamilton who ran wide, who then pitted, rejoining behind Petrov. When three laps remained, Button was six and a half seconds behind Vettel. Webber, though was closing on Heidfeld, looking to return to his starting position. Meanwhile, Petrov slid off, ran over a huge bump off the track, landing hard and breaking the steering column, ending his race.

Vettel and Button looked quite safe with two laps left, but Heidfeld was under pressure from Webber. Heidfeld had a massive lock-up with barely more than a lap to go, but Webber was not quite close enough to take advantage. Lapped traffic was ahead of them into Turn 1, though both were cleanly around quickly. Vettel took the win with an excited Button behind. Heidfeld was able to keep his margin and take third, with Webber fourth, and Massa completing the top five.

UPDATED Results from the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix:

Driver Team Gap Start
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1
2. Jenson Button McLaren +3.2 4
3. Nick Heidfeld Renault +25.0 6
4. Mark Webber Red Bull +26.3 3
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari +36.9 7
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +37.2 

+20 penalty

7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber +66.4 10
8. Lewis Hamilton McLaren +49.9 

+20 penalty

9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP +84.8 11
10. Paul di Resta Force India +91.4 14
11. Adrian Sutil Force India +1 Lap 17
12. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP +1 Lap 9
13. Sebasien Buemi Toro Rosso +1 Lap 12
14. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso +1 Lap 13
15. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus +1 Lap 19
16. Timo Glock Virgin Racing +1 Laps 21
Vitaly Petrov Renault +4 Laps 8
Tonio Liuzzi HRT +10 Laps 23
Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin Racing +14 Laps 22
Jarno Trulli Lotus +25 Laps 20
Sergio Perez Sauber +33 Laps 16
Rubens Barrichello Williams +34 Laps 15
Narain Karthikeyan HRT +42 Laps 24
Pastor Maldonado Williams +48 Laps 18

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