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GP Week : Issue 111
Team-By-Team: Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had polar-opposite Grands Prix on Sunday, as the former benefitted from low tyre degradation to take his first podium finish of the year while the latter struggled with massive wear on his way to seventh place, before being demoted to eighth with a post-race penalty. Hamilton had been looking like challenging Vettel for the win early on, but excessive wear meant he had to pit earlier than the leader on all three occasions, before having to pit an unexpected fourth time in the closing laps. Sebastian Vettel may be leading the championship by 24 points after his win on Sunday, but he will still be pushing for improvements from his team after suffering a KERS failure during the race. The German enjoyed another faultless day at the wheel of the RB7 to notch up his fourth win in a row, never looking in doubt to clinch his second consecutive Malaysian GP win. Team-mate Webber had to fight hard for fourth after his KERS failed before the race, using the DRS to good effect to climb from a lowly 10th. Nick Heidfeld made up for his shocker in Australia to record his first podium finish since the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, proving that his team-mate’s podium in Melbourne was no flash in the pan. After gaining four places off the start to second, Heidfeld dropped to fifth after the first round of stops before climbing to third in the closing stages when Alonso pitted and he overtook an ailing Hamilton. Petrov would have made it two Renaults in the points had he not run wide and gone airborne while rejoining the track. Mercedes’ lacklustre start to 2011 continued in Malaysia, although Michael Schumacher did lift team spirits slightly by scoring their first points of the new campaign. The German picked up two places off the line before two-stopping to ninth, picking up two places in the closing laps thanks to overtaking Paul di Resta and Petrov’s retirement. Things didn’t go to plan for team-mate Rosberg though, as he slumped to 12th despite starting ahead of Schumacher. He lost four places off the line and was unable to recover with poor race pace. Williams were unable to wake from their 2011 nightmare at the weekend as they recorded their second double retirement in as many races. Maldonado and Barrichello never broke into the top 14 before retiring after 8 and 22 laps respectively due to a misfire and hydraulics failure. Barrichello was tagged at the end of the first lap, requiring a full lap to return to the pits to replace a punctured tyre, while Maldonado had climbed to 16th with a misfiring engine before parking his FW33 to save the Cosworth V8 from damage. As in Australia, Ferrari’s race pace showed little resemblance to their qualifying form, after challenging McLaren hard for the podium places on Sunday. Alonso would have finished on the podium had his DRS been working when he came upon Hamilton in the final 15 laps of the race, but instead collided with the Briton as he tried to overtake. He took the flag in sixth just behind Massa, with the Brazilian also having just missed out on the podium. He lost seven seconds on his first pitstop without which he would have been within reach of the podium. 30