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Malaysia analysis - Alonso keeps Ferrari in the hunt 26 Mar 2012

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber celebrates second place.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams celebrates his sixth place.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7 leads Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25  March 2012 Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 25 March 2012

No one - Fernando Alonso included - left Sepang believing Ferrari now have a competitive car, but in challenging conditions the Spaniard’s supreme driving skills overcame the F2012’s inadequacies - and all of his rivals. Closest was Sauber’s Sergio Perez, the Ferrari driver academy member tipped for a future Maranello race seat, whose performance marked him out as a rising star - and ensured Felipe Massa’s future with the team becomes the subject of even closer media scrutiny. After a result that splits both championships wide open, we take a team-by-team look at Sunday’s performances in Kuala Lumpur…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1
Felipe Massa, P15

Alonso admitted that he was surprised to win, but drove another of his superb fighting races and thoroughly deserved the result which came as a major boost to Ferrari. The Spaniard said, however, that the result has not changed the team’s bad situation, and that much work still needs to be done to improve the car. In stark contrast, Massa had another brutal afternoon, finishing almost a lap down in 15th place.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, P2
Kamui Kobayashi, retired lap 47, brakes

What a star Perez was, and how brilliantly Sauber judged their strategy, calling him in for wets at the end of the first lap, then for intermediates soon after the restart. Each time they kept him in the top three, and his chase of Alonso made him the star of the race in a car that had better pace than anything out there. Poor Kobayashi also drove well, albeit almost unnoticed, but retired with brake problems.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P3
Jenson Button, P14

Hamilton said that his McLaren ran problem-free but that in the conditions it just didn’t have the pace to challenge either the Ferrari or the Sauber. Button looked set for another of his well-judged races until he hit HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan, whereupon everything fell apart for him. Subsequently he found it difficult to generate decent front tyre temperatures, and struggled in battles with Ricciardo and Rosberg. Altogether, it wasn’t McLaren’s finest day, but they still lead the constructors’ championship.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P4
Sebastian Vettel, P11

Red Bull demonstrated good race pace once more, but were never in the running to finish better than the fourth place that Webber scored. Vettel looked a little desperate all weekend, and was left even more frustrated when his left-rear tyre was sliced on the front wing of Karthikeyan’s HRT whilst he lapped it. That dropped him to a pointless 11th place finish.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, P5
Romain Grosjean, retired lap 3, spin

Lotus lost an impetuous Grosjean early on when he spun, then spun off for good, but Raikkonen came through to a strong fifth place after once again demonstrating competitive race pace.

Williams
Bruno Senna, P6
Pastor Maldonado, P19

Senna made up for his troubles in Melbourne with a terrific run from 22nd place on the opening lap to sixth, underlining the potential of the Williams FW34. Maldonado was in the thick of the fight for eighth place when his engine broke in the closing stages. But at least the team scored their first points of the season.

Force India
Paul di Resta, P7
Nico Hulkenberg, P9

Di Resta was in the fight for good points all afternoon after another well-judged performance, but didn’t quite have the pace to hold back Senna. Hulkenberg challenged Vergne throughout the closing stages, and the team’s haul of points placed it sixth overall.

Toro Rosso
Jean-Eric Vergne, P8
Daniel Ricciardo, P12

Toro Rosso weren’t quite as competitive as they were in Melbourne, but Vergne drove a strong race to score his first championship points, as Ricciardo got delayed and was never able to make up lost ground. He did, however, stay ahead of both Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Button to the flag.

Mercedes
Michael Schumacher, P10
Nico Rosberg, P13

Mercedes’ race started badly when Grosjean beat Schumacher off the line, lost ground, then hit the back of his car and spun him off. He was lucky to score a point when Vettel cut a tyre and Maldonado’s engine failed. Rosberg had a very disappointing race after running initially in a points-scoring position, and could not better 13th.

Caterham
Vitaly Petrov, P16
Heikki Kovalainen, P18

Petrov was mighty in the first part of the race, moving up to 17th within a lap, and finally finished 16th. Kovalainen also made a great start, going from last to 14th by lap two, but then made a mistake on inters which necessitated a replacement nose, and finished 18th.

Marussia
Timo Glock, P19
Charles Pic, P20

Once again Marussia brought both cars home, with Glock splitting the Caterhams. Their pit calls were spot-on, and Glock’s performance was backed by another good showing from Pic in his first Formula One race in the wet.

HRT
Narain Karthikeyan, P21, classified in P22 (penalty for Vettel collision)
Pedro de la Rosa, P22, classified in P21 after team mate’s penalty

When the race was suspended Karthikeyan was a superb 10th, having kept it on the island after starting on full wet tyres. Later, he clashed with Button and Vettel as well as inevitably falling back as the track dried, but overall he was satisfied to make the finish. De la Rosa started from the pit lane after being pushed off the grid with a fuel pressure problem, then got a drive-through penalty as team members were late leaving the grid for the restart. But he, too, finished, which was important for the little team. After the race Karthikeyan had 20 seconds added to his race time for causing the collision with Vettel and as a result swapped places with his team mate in the final classification.

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