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GP Week : Issue 146
While the P7 qualifying result Romain Grosjean secured at the Sepang International Circuit on Saturday afternoon wasn’t as impressive as Melbourne’s P3, it was still a good day’s work for the F1 returnee. But much as the Australian Grand Prix lasted a single lap before the Lotus driver found himself first on the list of retirees, Malaysia saw the Frenchman peak too soon. Thanks to team-mate Kimi Raikkonen’s grid penalty, Grosjean started Sunday’s race in P6. But he collided with Michael Schumacher on the first lap and aquaplaned off on lap 2, the only man out before the Safety Car was called to the track. The collision with Schumacher was entirely Grosjean’s fault, although in fairness some blame could be assigned to the weather conditions, which saw reduced visibility. But that was a disadvantage that affected the entire grid, yet Grosjean was the only man to clip a fellow driver and send them both spinning. “I was there, I was careful and unfortunately I think it was Schumacher who hit me and in Turn 4 I spun. From that point the race was really bad,” the Lotus driver said after the race, seemingly unaware that it was he who had clipped Schumacher and sent the German spinning. “The rain came too hard, Kimi was pitting so we couldn't put both cars into the pit and I had to stay out with inters but it was just... I couldn't drive it. There was no visibility. It was very difficult. [I'm] very disappointed because I think we could have had a good result here.” They say that you get the measure of a man not from how he behaves in victory, but by how he chooses to comport himself in defeat. At the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel crossed the line in P11, his first finish outside of the points since the 2010 Belgian Grand Prix, when the Red Bull driver crossed the line in P15. It was a disappointing result for the defending champion, who now trails team-mate Mark Webber in the drivers’ standings. Vettel leaves Malaysia P6 in the drivers’ championship with 16 points to his name. Championship leader Fernando Alonso – and the only other man on the grid able to snatch the record for youngest triple back-to-back champion from Vettel – leads with 35 points. Vettel’s post-race behaviour was best-described as petulant, with the Red Bull driver going so far as to call HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan a ‘cucumber’. “He was off the track. In my view, it was over,” told German TV network RTL. “As in real life, there are a few cucumbers on the road. “It's extremely frustrating, because in a chaotic race where I lost the radio right at the beginning, a fourth place would have been satisfactory.” It was that loss of radio that explains the retirement that wasn’t. In a bizarre sequence of events that unfolded on the penultimate lap of the race, Red Bull radioed their driver and instructed him to retire rather than take the chequered flag. But Vettel seemingly ignored their instructions, and sailed on to the finish. The team’s attempt to retire their man when he had a serviceable car was seen in the press room as a cynical attempt to get a free gearbox change for Vettel before the Chinese Grand Prix. Under FIA regulations, cars that fail to finish grands prix are eligible for penalty-free parts changes not available to those drivers who completed the race WIN ON SATURDAY, RETIRE ON SUNDAY Grosjean does it again THE RETIREMENT THAT WASN’T 28 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> MALAYSIA