There’s never enough time to cover everything that goes on at a Grand Prix weekend in the post-race review.
So after reading various race reports and looking at the detailed statistics I’ve compiled a few more thoughts on the Malaysian Grand Prix including a little bit of lap times analysis, a look at some of the new technology, and a look at a former F1 designer’s claim the Ferrari team mates battle was fixed.
Hope you find it useful, if so leave a comment and I may try to make it a regular thing.
Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa
Massa’s spin at Sepang was almost certainly down to driver error. After the race some sources claimed Ferrari had put about an explanation that the airflow over his wings had stalled after he hit the kerb too hard, but as Mark Hughes explained in Autosport, “the airflow will have had plenty of time to reattach in the space of two corners.”
Was Massa ever in the hunt for the win? Not according to Gary Anderson: “he way in which Raikkonen went past Massa at the first stop makes me suspect that Ferrari had it planned from the outset.” Here are their lap times around that crucial moment:
18 1:38.555 (pits)
17 1:38.918 (pits)
Lap 14 was the first time either got into the 1’35s – and Raikkonen was faster. He kept the gap between them as short as he could as Massa headed for the pits and lowered the fastest lap of the race again on lap 17 to pile on the pressure. He then took on less fuel than Massa at the first stop, which along with his quicker laps explains how he got ahead.
Massa might have jumped back ahead at the second set of stops but could not maintain the same gap to Raikkonen – despite having less fuel on board – and spun off trying.
Odds & ends
BMW continued their policy of fuelling one driver lighter than the other at Sepang – this time it was Nick Heidfeld’s turn to go light, but for various reasons it all went wrong. He was delayed by the McLarens in qualifying, nudged wide by Jarno Trulli at the start of the race, and never saw team mate Robert Kubica.
Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified Lewis Hamilton despite having one lap less fuel in his McLaren’s tank. But Hamilton seems to have had the better race pace, despite spending most of the Grand Prix in traffic – he was faster than Kovalainen in all three sectors.
Jenson Button set the fourth-fastest lap of the race in his Honda, but it’s more likely to be representative of the improving track conditions throughout the race (Button set his fastest lap on the final tour) than a major step forward in competitiveness for the RA108.
Williams qualified 7th and 13th in Melbourne, 16th and 18th in Sepang. The team said they failed to make their tyres work on the resurfaced Sepang track. Nico Rosberg might have made progress in his brim-full FW30 had he not hit Timo Glock on the first lap.
How much faster is Ferrari than McLaren? It’s still hard to tell because Raikkonen was clearly managing his pace after Massa went out. But here are the fastest laps of the four cars by lap 30, when Massa went out:
Raikkonen – 1’35.679
Massa – 1’35.914
Kovalainen – 1’35.922
Hamilton – 1’35.988
Clockwise from top left: McLaren’s extra U-shaped rear wing to channel the airflow between the end plates more efficiently; in Malaysia Renault were willing to sacrifice rear aerodynamic efficiency to allow better cooling of their rear dampers with this heat exhaust; Force India combine their rear view mirrors with novel wings; Kazuki Nakajima’s pit stop provides a glimpse of the FW30’s flow-conditioning wing beneath its brake duct.
The stewards are keeping an eye on how the top teams get their cars off the line – in Melbourne the start data of both McLarens plus Nick Heidfeld’s BMW were checked, and in Sepang Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso’s car were inspected in the same way. These were routine checks that discovered nothing, however in Malaysia the stewards recorded the software versions all the teams were using and the Renault engined cars (Renault and Red Bull) were using an earlier software version (1.00.021) than the other teams (1.00.023).
Malaysia engine changes
(Did not finish the Australian Grand Prix and changed his engine without penalty)
Malaysia gearbox changes
(All did not finish the Australian Grand Prix and changed their gearboxes without penalties)