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GP Week : Issue 112
A poor start from pole position eventually led to Sebastian Vettel’s downfall in China, and brought an end to his winning spree of four-in-a-row after losing out to Lewis Hamilton in the last 25 km of racing. Vettel found himself in third place at the end of the first lap, forcing Red Bull strategists to take a different route to McLaren’s three-stop strategy and make just two visits down pitlane. While Vettel’s strategy managed to see off one of the McLarens, he didn’t have enough pace in hand at the end of the race to keep Hamilton behind. Nevertheless, he wasn’t sure his strategy had been the correct call. “I don’t see second today as a disappointment,” he began. “I’m the only one up here [on the podium] who two- stopped, so that’s something to look into tonight.” More worringly for the championship leader was the continued unreliability of his KERS unit. Like in Malaysia a week ago, Vettel was only able to use it intermittintly during the race, costing him as much as four tenths of a second per lap. Team principal Christian Horner is hopeful of getting all their issues solved in time for the Turkish Grand Prix in three weeks’ time. “Kers worked well for the first half of the race and then became more intermittent in the latter part,” said Horner. “ We have got three weeks between now and Istanbul to make it work.” MArk Webber says it was luck that helped him finish third in yesterday’s Malaysian Grand prix, after a storming drive from 18th place on the grid. The Australian pulled off no fewer than 14 overtaking manoeuvres on-track during the race, with his three-stop strategy allowing him to make full and proper use of his three new soft tyres, having not used any during qualifying. He got his stint on the hard tyre out of the way early in the race, and from 20th place after his first stop and his switch to soft tyres, he soon began burning up the road ahead of him. However it was his final stint that was especially exceptional, as he closed a 30-second gap to team-mate and race leader Vettel to just two seconds at the flag, rising from seventh to third. “I think we got lucky today. We weren’t so lucky yesterday, and I’ll take all the luck I can get,” he said after the race. “ We decided to start on the prime tyre, which we know is not the most desired, as it doesn’t have the characteristics of the hard tyre in terms of duration and things like that. “I made a mistake in Turn 2 on my in-lap and then we came in as there wasn’t much left in the tyres and our race started from there. To see P17 on your board after 15 laps you think it might not happen, but suddenly I felt very comfortable with the car. “I had a few sets of tyres left from qualifying, so that helped – and maybe that’s the way to do it! Miss qualifying and go from there!” he concluded. Hamilton overcomes pre-race scare More KERS problems for championship leader Webber: “Lucky” to finish third F1 CHINA >> 27