On Song or Gone Wrong? – Malaysian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas restores hope amongst the Williams camp, while Mark Webber gets robbed of a race victory – we take our picks of the highs and lows in Malaysia.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

March 25th, 2013 (F1plus/G. Polychronis).- On Song or Gone Wrong? is a segment provided after the completion of each race weekend. It is predominately dedicated to assess the surprise performances within the field, whether it is for the better or worse. The 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix is over, but not the controversy that generated, which will be the center of conversations for some time now.  

Valtteri Bottas: On-song

Williams-Renault have clearly had an extremely lack lustre start to the 2013 season, however, Valtteri Bottas managed to show signs ofglimmer from the Williams outfit at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Bottas finished just outside the points in eleventh, which is seven places ahead of his qualifying position. Bottas’ overall position however, was somewhat assisted through retirements from other drivers.

The Finnish driver showed great driving talent to fight through the field, despite struggling in the conditions during the opening lap, which forced him to drop down the field considerably. Bottas however, managed to fight his FW35 back to P11, which Mike Coughlan, Williams’ technical director, considered a job well done.

“After turning wide on the first lap, Valtteri drove a great race to fight back through the field and finish just outside the points” said Coughlan.

Force India: Gone-wrong

Force India enjoyed their best all time start to a season by having both drivers finish in the points in Australia. At Sepang however, both drivers were forced to retire due to a wheel nut issue.

Force India’s first dilemma of the race arrived at the time of both drivers’ first pit stops, which was evidently scheduled on the same lap. Paul di Resta was forced to queue behind his German teammate as he helplessly watched his pit crew clumsily fight with a troubled wheel nut onSutil’s car. Even if Sutil’s pit stop was a quick one however, it is still hard to disagree that di Resta would not of been held up behind him, considering he immediately followed Sutil in the pit lane. This clearly suggests a textbook case of a communications breakdown within the team.

The captive wheel nut system was yet again the perpetrator for the second pit stop for Force India, and it became clear that the team were unable to mend the issue during the race. As a safety precaution, the team retired both cars on lap 24 and 29.

The Silverstone based team was showing tremendous pace throughout the weekend, as both Force India cars finished in the top 10 in the third practice session and Adrian Sutil qualified ninth.

Both drivers’ chances to claim points in Malaysia was marred by a team that has truly ‘gone-wrong.’

Mark Webber: On-Song

Mark Webber’s true capabilities was put on display to the world at the Malaysian Grand Prix, as he lead his teammate and rival, Sebastian Vettel, after all pit stops were completed.

The team’s orders were that after all pit stops were made for the two drivers, they were not permitted to overtake each other. Sebastian Vettel did the contrary. After both drivers had completed their pit stops, Mark Webber remained ahead of Vettel. The Australian turned down the engine performance of his RB9, as he was under the impression that he was able to coax to the finish line to claim first prize. This was not to be the case however. With just ten laps remaining, Sebastian Vettel mounted a vicious attack on Mark Webber, putting both cars at risk of crashing out of the race. He eventually cemented the overtaking manoeuvre and crossed the finish line to claim maximum points.

The teams’ immediate words to the German after the race was:

“Good job Seb. It looked like you wanted it bad enough, but there will be some explaining to do.”

The words that Webber uttered to his teammate in the podium greenroom were simply:

“Multi 21 Seb. Multi 21.”

‘Multi 21’ is believed to be an engine setting, which decreases overall engine performance, thus saving fuel. Vettel elected not to choose this setting.

Although Webber was forced to settle for just 18 points, his performance proved to his rivals that he is still a true title contender.

McLaren Mercedes: Gone-wrong

McLaren suffered yet another poor performance, which will arouse great concern amongst the McLaren camp.

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez endured a less than satisfactory qualifying session, as they qualified 8th and 10th respectively. McLaren’s bad weekend however, was turned into a worse weekend after Sunday’s race.

Sergio Perez was unable to gain much from his qualifying position, as he was only able to finish in ninth position. Jenson Button scored no points, considering he was forced to retire due to a wheel nut issue, which was reminiscent of Silverstone 2012.

After the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2012, the McLaren team had scored 55 points in total. At the same point in this season, the team has just scored a mere 4 points. McLaren are showing all signs of a team that has ‘Gone-wrong.’ 

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