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GP Week : Issue 111
KERS failure doesn’t stop Vettel Sebastian Vettel shrugged off a KERS failure mid-way through yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix to rack up his second race win of the year, although the German crucially had the system at his disposal for the start of the race. Red Bull famously ran without KERS at the season- opening Australian Grand Prix, but had to rely heavily on it in Malaysia to keep their winning streak going. Vettel admitted after qualifying that without KERS he would have been behind the McLarens on the grid, and used it to great effect off the line to keep his advantage from pole position and open a two-second lead on the first lap. On lap 29 however, his race engineer instructed him not to use KERS any more. “It was a little bit on-off during the race. It is something we have to work on but still never forget two weeks ago we didn’t race it at all and today it was very crucial at the start,” admitted Vettel. “Without KERS again we would have been in a completely different position and the race would have unfolded in a different way. “It was giving us what we needed and being in a luxury situation, being a little bit ahead, we had a little problem so we turned it off and it went back on. “The entire race was quite different to what we saw two weeks ago – it was a lot closer and there were more pit stops due to the tyres. “It wasn’t an easy race, but in the last section Lewis had a problem and was then behind Jenson. I’m very pleased with today’s result. I love what I do and don’t think I could be happier at this stage.” After an unconvincing debut in Australia a fortnight ago, Formula One’s new drag reduction system (DRS) helped produce one of the most action-packed Malaysian Grands Prix at Sepang on Sunday, as drivers took advantage of the circuit’s long straights to slipstream past their opponents. Pirelli’s quickly degrading tyres played an equally prominent role in the day’s proceedings, producing a total of 59 pitstops over the course of the race, up from 46 in Australia. The end result was non-stop action right throughout the field from lights to flag, with little let-up in close on-track action or mechanics in the pitlane waiting to change tyres. Even without KERS, the DRS gave Mark Webber enough of an advantage to gain positions during the race, by passing Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa on-track. Teams and drivers had been expecting the DRS to show its full potential in Malaysia, thanks to the track’s two long straights and slow-speed corners, but its performance was over-exaggerated by the increased tyre wear, also due to the track characteristics. Sepang’s sweltering heat, high-speed corners and long straights meant Pirelli’s tyres didn’t last anywhere near as long at the weekend as they did in Australia, resulting in more overtaking manoeuvres between drivers on different strategies. DRS and tyres add to Malaysian GP spectacle 26