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GP Week : Issue 149
32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Red Bull recorded their second podium-less race result in a row, the first time since the beginning of 2010, with Webber and Vettel finishing fourth and fifth. It was Webber’s third fourth place finish in a row and fifth in six races, after taking advantage of his three-stop strategy to climb from sixth in the final 12 laps. His first stop was on lap 6, but he was able to make his tyres last much longer thereafter and enjoyed a thrilling battle with Vettel on the penultimate lap to steal fourth. The German opted for a two-stop strategy which elevated him to second with just six laps to go, but he dropped quickly to fifth as his tyres gave up the ghost. Mercedes brought an end to their 57-year winning drought in Formula One on Sunday with Nico Rosberg’s faultless drive from pole position. The German was never threatened at the head of the field as he made two pitstops on a soft-medium- medium strategy. Concerns of excessive tyre wear proved unfounded and he took the flag more than 20 seconds clear. Hopes of a 1-2 finish lasted only 12 laps before team-mate Schumacher was forced to retire with an unfastened wheel nut. He had been running second at the time, but was released from his first pitstop before the mechanic had a chance to tighten the wheel nut. McLaren claimed their second double podium finish of the year after another strong weekend, but could well have challenged strongly for victory had circumstances prevailed. A five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change immediately put Hamilton on the back foot coming into the weekend, but his aggressive three-stop strategy coupled with no fewer than six overtaking manoeuvres in his final stint allowed him to climb to the podium for his third consecutive third place finish. Button meanwhile may have challenged Rosberg in the closing laps but for a slow final pitstop to put him back in the chasing pack. He eventually found his way through to take second place. Similarly-executed two-stop strategies for both drivers yielded vastly differing results for Lotus on Sunday, as Romain Grosjean recorded his first ever points finish in F1 but team- mate Raikkonen slipped from second to 14th in just four laps in the closing stages of the race. Starting fourth on the grid the Finn looked set to continue his points-scoring return to the sport, but an over-ambitious two-stop strategy failed to pay dividends as he was tasked with completing the second half of the race on a single set of tyres. While running second with 10 laps to go, he dropped through the field like a stone and ended 14th. Grosjean, with four laps fresher tyres, excelled to come home sixth having started tenth. There were no rain showers to mask Ferrari’s problems with its 2012 car in Shanghai on Sunday, as world championship leader Alonso slumped to a ninth place finish and team-mate Massa failed to score. Alonso three-stopped from ninth on the grid, but may well have finished higher had he not run wide at turn 7 on lap 43. It took him a further three laps to regain the place he lost, while also losing the chance to overtake Grosjean when the Frenchman made a similar error later on. Massa pitted only twice after two long opening stints on the medium tyre, before taking the flag four seconds outside the points. Force India just lacked the long run pace in China to continue their six-race points-scoring run, with Paul di Resta taking the flag four seconds adrift of tenth. He opted for a two-stop strategy but was always at the back of the main pack, not close enough to take advantage of any slip-ups. Team-mate Hulkenberg’s race was compromised when he picked up some front wing damage on the first lap, despite touching no-one, making for a difficult first stint. Despite show strong pace once he got a new wing at his first stop, he was too far adrift to challenge for points. Red Bull Mercedes McLaren Lotus Ferrari Force India TEAM-BY-TEAM: MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX F1 >>> CHINA