Skip to content

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

Mar 24, 2013, 10:15 AM EST

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. Richard Petty Motorsports seeks sponsorship for 26 races for Hornish

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:12 PM EST

    Sam Hornish Jr Sam Hornish Jr

    Richard Petty Motorsports seeks sponsorship for 26 races for Sam Hornish Jr.’s team this season.

  2. F1: Red Bull’s Horner confident that RB11 will be ready for Jerez test (VIDEO)

    Jan 28, 2015, 1:02 PM EST

    Christian Horner AP

    Horner also speaks with NBCSN’s Will Buxton about efforts from the team’s engine manufacturer, Renault, to ensure a much smoother start to 2015.

  3. F1: Force India will skip first preseason test in Jerez

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:33 PM EST

    Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg AP

    Force India opts to concentrate on getting its new 2015 car ready for the second preseason test at Barcelona.

  4. Hornish fitting in quite well with Richard Petty Motorsports

    Jan 28, 2015, 12:15 PM EST

    hornish AP

    Sam Hornish is fitting in quite nicely in his new role with Richard Petty Motorsports.

  5. After 2014 Chase berth, Aric Almirola expects “breakout year” for Richard Petty Motorsports

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:56 AM EST

    Oral-B USA 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Last year’s July winner at Daytona thinks RPM’s momentum will continue to grow in 2015.

  6. Sponsorship woes leave Jeb Burton scrambling again for a NASCAR ride

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:46 AM EST

    Fred's 250 - Practice Fred's 250 - Practice

    A deal to return to a ThorSport Toyota has fallen through for the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton.

  7. NASCAR: Ross Chastain moving up to XFINITY Series with JD Motorsports

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:27 AM EST

    NextEra Energy Resources 250 - Practice Getty Images

    Chastain will have support from the National Watermelon Association on his No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro.

  8. Roush Fenway Racing continues to look for sponsorship for Wallace

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:11 AM EST

    Bubba Wallace Bubba Wallace

    Roush Fenway Racing continues to look for sponsorship for Darrell Wallace Jr., but Wallace says he plans to run the full XFINITY season.

  9. Roush Fenway Racing looks for big rebound in 2015

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EST

    jack roush 2015 AP

    Although there were a number of changes at Roush Fenway Racing, team co-owner Jack Roush believes things are on the right track for a big collective comeback from RFR in 2015.

  10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. channels Marshawn Lynch: ‘I’m just here so I won’t get fined’

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:06 AM EST

    Stenhouse Phoenix 2 2014 Getty Images

    Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to channel his inner Marshawn Lynch during Roush Fenway Racing’s segment of the NASCAR Media Tour on Wednesday.

  11. Tony Stewart buys All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EST

    Hollywood Casino 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Stewart takes control of one of the country’s oldest sprint car leagues.

  12. NASCAR: Outcry causes GoDaddy to pull Super Bowl ad featuring Danica Patrick, puppy

    Jan 27, 2015, 10:41 PM EST

    Aaron's 312 Getty Images

    Negative backlash following ad’s premiere on Tuesday’s “Today” show leads to GoDaddy pulling it from Sunday’s big game.

  13. Indy Lights: Ed Jones leads Day 2 of Homestead road course test

    Jan 27, 2015, 8:55 PM EST

    Credit: IndyLights.com Credit: IndyLights.com

    The Lights contingent finish their two-day session on the Homestead road course before heading to the oval on Thursday.

  14. Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick: “I’m as comfortable as I’ve ever been”

    Jan 27, 2015, 7:12 PM EST

    (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Getty Images

    Following a dramatic Sprint Cup title victory in 2014, Harvick enters 2015 with less pressure – but not less motivated to continue his success.

  15. Gene Haas updates F1 team’s progress at NASCAR media tour

    Jan 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EST

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    Gene Haas provides an update on his F1 team’s progress during NASCAR Media Tour.

  16. The King: NASCAR’s next great driver may be in XFINITY Series right now (video)

    Jan 27, 2015, 5:28 PM EST

    richard petty daytona rising 2014 Getty Images

    In a new promotional video for the XFINITY Series, Richard Petty says the next great NASCAR driver may be in the sport’s junior league right now.

  17. NFL legends join NASCAR stars in NBC Sports’ upcoming “Gridiron Challenge” (VIDEO)

    Jan 27, 2015, 4:58 PM EST

    nbcsports1 (1)

    Don’t miss this special event on Friday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  18. Kurt Busch reasserts what he said about ex: “What I said was under oath”

    Jan 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EST

    Kurt Busch Kurt Busch

    Kurt Busch says he’s unsure when a decision will be made in the protective hearing case sought by his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll

  19. NHRA wants to give fans ‘Baptism by Nitro’ in 2015

    Jan 27, 2015, 4:22 PM EST

    (Image courtesy NHRA) (Image courtesy NHRA)

    In an effort to attract new drag racing fans, the National Hot Rod Association has embarked upon a new marketing and social media program for 2015: “Baptism by Nitro”, featuring the sport’s fastest cars, Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (2245)
  2. J. Clements (1727)
  3. K. Schrader (1720)
  4. K. Grala (1604)
  5. M. Lira (1523)