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GP Week : Issue 111
Nick Heidfeld made up for a disappointing Renault debut a fortnight ago to secure his team’s second consecutive podium finish on Sunday after beating Mark Webber to the flag in third place at Sepang. Heidfeld had a blistering start to thank for his performance, after jumping from sixth on the grid to second before three- stopping to third. It wasn’t all plane sailing for the German however, as a poor pitstop by the usually lightening-quick Renault pitcrew saw him drop to fifth after the first round of stops. He rose to fourth with ten laps to go when Alonso pitted for repairs following his collision with Hamilton, before Heidfeld easily nabbed third from the ailing McLaren driver. He was pushed hard in the closing laps by Red Bull’s Mark Webber, but Heidfeld was able to use his KERS to hang onto the position from the KERS-less Australian. “I had a great start just like in Australia, and did not expect to make up so many positions. I moved up to P2, making up four places. After that I did my best to follow Sebastian but he was much quicker,” Heidfeld explained after the race. “I got lucky with Fernando having a problem, but it was great fun fighting and getting ahead of Lewis. “In the final few laps Mark was close behind me but we had the pace to stay ahead. It’s another great result for Lotus Renault GP and it’s clear the team has taken a big step forward this year.” With two podium finishes under their belt, Renault sit a comfortable fourth in the constructors’ championship, just six points behind Ferrari. However, having had just one car score points in each of the first two races, Renault will be hoping to get both cars home in China next weekend to cement their status as one of the top teams of 2011. Vitaly Petrov saw his Malaysian Grand Prix come to an abrupt end four laps from the finish after a spectacular airborne moment in his R31 at the exit of Turn 8. Petrov was in eighth place at the time and would have climbed to seventh when Hamilton pitted on the following lap had he not had to retire on the spot. After picking up three places off the start, Petrov was running in the points throughout the race, and had passed Sauber’s two-stopping Kamui Kobayashi with ten laps to go. Just a few laps later though he ran wide at turn 8 and rejoined the track at full throttle over a bump sending him briefly airborne before smashing back to earth, ripping the steering column from its socket. “I made a small mistake which shouldn’t have had the consequences it had,” admitted Petrov. “I went wide and the car took off on the curb, landing hard. “Both cars should have been in the points today, but the good news is that we clearly have the pace needed to compete this season.” KERS failure doesn’t stop Vettel Epic start gives Heidfeld podium but nothing for Flying Vitaly 27 F1 MALAYSIA >>