Skip to content

Bickering teammates, wet roads made for quite the race in Malaysia

Mar 24, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

While everyone expected today’s Malaysian GP to be all about tires and the weather, it turned out that team orders and the drivers’ ability to follow them, which was the biggest talking point.

A wet start to the Grand Prix meant that the normal regulation stipulating the mandatory use of both compounds of dry tire was overridden. Teams were faced with a tricky dilemma, as the first part of the Sepang circuit was very wet, with the middle and last sectors drying up quickly in the first couple of laps.

Alonso’s race was over at the beginning of lap two, following a collision with the back of Vettel’s car on the first lap, partially damaging his front wing. With the wing clearly hanging off, the team gambled on leaving Alonso out for another lap in the hope they could sneak into the window of being able to change to slick tires at the same time as replacing the nose and therefore saving an extra pitstop.

Shortly after going past the pits towards the end of the straight, the wing, hanging on with only one of it’s two mounting pillars, failed completely and stuck under the car. Fernando was lucky to avoid a big collision as the front wheels lifted off the ground, leaving him without brakes or steering at around 180 mph.

As the track dried, all cars moved to slick tires and the differing strategies between hard and medium compounds began to play out. With most opting for the softer medium compound, Mark Webber stayed out a lap later than his team mate and went onto the hard tire out in front. He looked to be in a good position, with the potential to stay out longer on the more durable orange banded compound and putting in some very fast times compared to the medium compound shod cars.

In a slightly surprising move, he actually pitted sooner than Vettel and as the World Champion emerged later from his own stop, the pair were only meters apart.

Vettel on mediums and Webber on hards, the two fought like arch enemies, rather than teammates, very nearly ending both of their races early. With the team having told the pair, in no uncertain terms, to hold positions, turn down their engines and look after the tires, Vettel took his own decision to fight and pass his team mate, eventually taking the lead and the race. A big move, which has left him in hot water with his bosses and his teammate.

Behind the squabbling Red Bulls, Mercedes had similar issues with Nico Rosberg desperately pleading with his team to allow him passed the ‘fuel saving’ Lewis Hamilton. Conversely to Vettel though, when Rosberg was told to hold position and bring the cars home, he did what he was told and followed Lewis home for a solid third and fourth for the team.

Further down the field the development race in pitstop technology cost Force India and McLaren their races as both Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta, who were looking strong, retired as their new captive wheel nut system failed to allow the Force India to change tires.

Jenson Button, also in a surprisingly good position following improvements to his MP4-28, was hampered by a similar error as his car left its pitstop box before the right front wheel was properly attached.

The overriding factor in terms of outright pace was again the Pirellis and their characteristics in different conditions. Last week’s pacesetter, Kimi Raikkonen, today struggled on an abrasive track and higher temperatures, whereas the Red Bulls, who struggled to make tires last in Australia, managed to use them well and maintain good pace. Those that learn quickly how to manage tire temperatures and use them most efficiently will have the biggest advantage as the season progresses.

Next up China, where the teams will have had a chance to regroup and some will hope to bring more updates for the next Grand Prix.

Marc Priestley can be found on Twitter @f1elvis.

Latest Posts
  1. Cup drivers expecting speeds to go up at Kansas

    Apr 15, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Hollywood Casino 400 Getty Images

    If Sprint Cup drivers’ comments during today’s Goodyear tire test at Kansas Speedway are an indication, we can expect to see track records fall next month on the 1.5-mile oval.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Tuesday Round-Up (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Kyle Petty breaks down critical pit strategies in recent races, and Nate Ryan reports on today’s Goodyear tire test at Kansas.

  3. Austin Dillon doing what he has to do so far in rookie year

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    Bojangles' Southern 500 Getty Images

    Rookie rival Kyle Larson has been more flashy, but Dillon’s consistency has paid off in the season’s first eight races.

  4. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 6 p.m. ET

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:45 PM EDT

    nascar america

    On tap: The decision of four tires or two; Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson; today’s tire test at Kansas; and the Darlington edition of “Scan All 43.”

  5. Former FIA prez Max Mosley rubbishes F1′s ongoing noise saga

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:55 PM EDT

    Max Mosley And Representatives Of The NUJ Arrive To Give Evidence To A Select Committee On Regulation Of The Press Getty Images

    Mosley’s advice to current FIA president Jean Todt? “Take no notice.”

  6. World Challenge: Make-up race to be run at season-ending weekend in Utah

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT

    WC

    The first race of last month’s season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg was rained out.

  7. Sergio Perez: Target is to “keep improving” after Bahrain podium

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain - Qualifying Getty Images

    The Force India driver will look to continue his momentum this weekend in China.

  8. 19 car/driver combos expected at IndyCar test in Texas

    Apr 15, 2014, 2:11 PM EDT

    Firestone 550 Getty Images

    The test will help determine the aerodynamic options available to teams for this June’s IndyCar event on the 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth.

  9. F1 flashback: Ten years since first Chinese Grand Prix, too (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Race Getty Images

    Video highlights from the first Chinese Grand Prix, already 10 years ago.

  10. Jeff Gordon’s 6-year-old daughter takes to the track (PHOTOS)

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

    Federated Auto Parts 400 Getty Images

    Like father, like daughter? Ella Sofia Gordon got her first taste of a quarter-midget car earlier this week.

  11. IndyCar: Stats of note and points through two races

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Conway AP

    Some of IndyCar’s top performers, stats of notes and points after two races.

  12. Indy Lights: Lloyd Read is a seriously unlucky – or lucky – individual (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    ReadGPSTP

    Indy Lights rookie Lloyd Read has either been really unlucky with circumstances or really lucky to avoid worse circumstances in the first two races, depending on your interpretation.

  13. NASCAR points observations through eight races

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    Harvick Getty Images

    Where the NASCAR points standings sit after eight races, now post-Darlington.

  14. Ten with Townsend: Long Beach Debrief

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    Hunter-Reay AP

    Expert insight from NBCSN’s IndyCar ace analyst Townsend Bell returns for a second season on MotorSportsTalk.

  15. Ricciardo Australian GP disqualification upheld by FIA

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:07 AM EDT

    Ricciardo AP

    No overturning of Red Bull’s appeal at Melbourne.

  16. Roller coaster days for Dixon, Wilson, RHR Sunday at Long Beach

    Apr 14, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Dixon Getty Images

    See what changed between Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon for three of IndyCar’s best – a street race at Long Beach where the gloves came off.

  17. Schumacher’s manager: ‘Small signs of progress’ made by F1 legend

    Apr 14, 2014, 7:37 PM EDT

    (Photo: Tony Gentile / Reuters) Reuters

    Sabine Kehm also talks about the Schumacher family having to deal with “untruths” in media reports about the seven-time F1 champion’s health.

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: Monday Round-Up (VIDEO)

    Apr 14, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    Rick Allen and Kyle Petty discuss the Darlington efforts from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, and Jimmie Johnson – as well as Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer’s late incident.

  19. NBCSN’s own Townsend Bell joins KV Racing for Indy 500

    Apr 14, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    Panther Racing driver Townsend Bell looks down pit lane after qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis Reuters

    The open-wheel veteran will drive a third car for the defending ’500′ champions.

  20. Indy 500 qualifying format, schedule modified

    Apr 14, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    Teams that don’t make the field on the first day of qualifying due to hardship can attempt to make the final row of the grid on the second day.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (29740)
  2. K. Harvick (7985)
  3. M. McDowell (3901)
  4. C. Edwards (1851)
  5. T. Bayne (1431)
  1. T. Stewart (1339)
  2. K. Larson (1244)
  3. J. Logano (1241)
  4. K. Busch (1213)
  5. K. Kahne (1178)