The Malaysian Grand Prix has been part of the Formula One World Championship circuit since 1999. It is currently held at the Sepang International Circuit, situated at Sepang near Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The circuit is known for its innovative features and for its temperamental climatic changes. The Sepang International Circuit is 5.54 kilometres (3.44 miles) in length, a distance which is lapped 56 times during the course of the race resulting in an overall race length of 310.41 km (192.88 miles). Out of the first eight Malaysian Grand Prix races which have been held on the track, Ferrari has won the most with four wins.
At the track’s inaugural event the scene was set for a spectacular comeback from Michael Schumacher who was returning to the sport after sustaining a broken leg earlier that year. He dominated the race and at the last moment handed the victory to his teammate Eddie Irvine. The crowds went wild and it seemed that the decision was final – that was until both Ferraris were disqualified due to a technical irregularity. Suddenly the winner’s cup was placed in the hands of Mika Hakkinen and Ferrari was out of the picture. The racing world was abuzz with controversy and Ferrari was outraged, until finally the steward’s decision was over-ruled and the cup was returned to Eddie Irvine.
The unpredictable weather patterns of the country often results in additional excitement at the Malaysian Grand Prix. For example, in 2001 a heavy rainstorm suddenly broke out in the middle of the race. Conditions became so bad that both Ferraris in the race spun off at the same corner of the race at almost the same time. Amazingly enough, both recovered to score a first and second in that year’s race. Thus far the Malaysian Grand Prix has been won by Eddie Irvine, Michael Schumacher (3 times), Ralf Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. Starting in 2002, the Malaysian Grand Prix was moved from the end of the Grand Prix schedule to the beginning where it continued to play an interesting role in the world of Formula One racing.
Michael Schumacher has clocked up the most wins for the Malaysian Grand Prix, being 2000, 2001 and 2004, with Fernando Alonso taking 2005 and 2007, and Kimi Raikkonen winning in 2003 and 2008. The 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix will take place on 2-4 April, promising once again to provide plenty of excitement for teams and spectators alike.
When Lewis Hamilton breezed over the finish line at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in first place this weekend, it seemed he had claimed yet another victory for his team. However drama struck when officials later decided to impose a 25-second penalty on Hamilton, pushing him back to third place and giving the victory to Felipe Massa two hours after the race had ended.
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has already registered their intention to appeal the decision but for now it seems that Hamilton will remain in third place. Apparently after race stewards reviewed videos of the chaos that ensued after a short but heavy downpour near the end of the race, they ruled that Hamilton should be penalized for actions taken at the Bus Stop chicane. Hamilton collided with Raikkonen, who was in first place, and inadvertently cut the corner. However he subsequently slowed down and allowed Raikkonen to retake the lead, perhaps as part of efforts to ward off a penalty. Unfortunately if that was his goal, it didn’t work. The stewards have ruled that he gained an advantage due to his actions. However Raikkonen later spun off the track on the same lap due to a completely unrelated incident, leaving Massa to gain the most from the ruling.
The British driver had again proved that he was the best wet-weather driver on the track when a sudden shower turned the race into utter chaos during the last few laps. Hamilton kept his cool, took the lead with ease after Raikkonen spun of the track and finished in first place with Massa (Ferrari) hot on his tail in second place and Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) in third. After the penalty was imposed Massa was moved into first place and Nick Heidfeld was gifted with second place. The change now means that Hamilton only takes six points instead of the ten he would have got for first place in the championship. It also pushes his team a little further back in the Constructors’ Championship. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are currently second with 119 points after Ferrari with 131 points.
With the European Grand Prix starting at a new venue on Sunday, it was hard to predict who’d race the circuit the best and come out on top. The new circuit took the cars around the harbor streets of Valencia, Spain, providing a scenic backdrop to an exciting race. In the end it was Felipe Massa who took the checkered flag.
Massa didn’t just win the race – he dominated it. Starting from pole position, the Brazilian claimed the fastest lap time and also the victory before the day was done. The win has also pushed Massa up in his bid for the FIA F1 World Driving Championship, since he has now overtaken teammate Kimi Raikkonen and shifted from third to second in the rankings. Despite the fact that Massa was in the lead for the vast majority of the race, his position was not uncontested. Lewis Hamilton wasn’t going to give up without a fight and he chased Massa throughout the race, finishing hot on his tail almost six seconds behind. As if that wasn’t enough to threaten his position at the head of the pack, race stewards considered a Ferrari pit-lane infraction once the race was over; Massa’s pit team released him almost straight into Sutil on the second stop. There was a period of time where fans and crew members sat with bated breath, wondering if Massa would be stripped of his victory. In the end a fine of 10 000 euro was imposed on Massa which he took with a grin, remarking that the fine would ultimately give him an advantage over Sutil since it meant that he had to always let Massa pass him. After all that, Massa was finally able to claim the winner’s trophy.
Driving for BMW Sauber, Robert Kubica managed to finish third, having to first recover from a collision into Hamilton on the first corner. He was followed over the finish line by Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and Jarno Trulli (Toyta). Kimi Raikkonen must have been very disappointed with his run as he was unable to complete the race when his Ferrari F2008 blew its engine just eleven laps from the finish line. He was kept in good company by Fernando Alonso, whose Renault suffered major damage after being smashed into by Kazuki Nakajima near the beginning of the race, and Adrian Sutil who overshot a corner and ended up in the tires.
The German Grand Prix was perhaps one of the most unexpected races of the season. The surprising part wasn’t that Lewis Hamilton took the winner’s trophy, it was that the Ferrari Team performed dismally, with Massa only just managing to scrape together a third place.
It is a well-known fact that while Formula One Racing might be considered to be a science, with the performance of carefully tuned high performance vehicles being improved year after year by small scientific discoveries, it is really the art of driving that makes the biggest difference between a good race and a great race. The sport is physically and mentally challenging for the driver and it takes endurance, fitness, alertness and, most of all, skill to run a good race to the finish. For years now Ferrari has been dominating the sport, taking home one winner’s trophy after the next and maintaining a seemingly vice-like grip on the “Constructors Title.” They had the best drivers, the best cars and won the most races. But lately it seems they have hit a giant oil slick in their racing strategies. The cars are not performing the way they should and the drivers are not racing to their fullest potential. It is sad to see, but it gives other teams a chance to truly shine. And that was exactly what happened at the German Grand Prix this weekend.
In the beginning Raikkonen seemed to have the fastest car on the track and he was doing well. Light rain brought into question the use of tires better suited to the conditions and Team Ferrari chose not to put on new wet intermediates. The decision was strongly disputed and in the end it proved to be Raikkonen’s downfall. The result was that other teams such as Honda and McLaren could push to the front. By the end of the race all eyes were on Lewis Hamilton whose McLaren Mercedes car was screaming around the track in first place, after carefully climbing his way forward. Being able to take home the win in his home country must have only added to the joy Hamilton experienced at the event. The 23-year-old was clearly ecstatic and critics are wondering if they are going to see this youth blossom into one of the greatest drivers Formula One has ever seen. However, the fact remains that since other first class drivers such as Raikkonen and Massa were out of the picture, it is hard to tell exactly how he would perform against these more seasoned drivers if they were driving at their peak. Only time will tell exactly how good a driver he has the potential to become.
Rubens Barrichello also made good use of the rain, managing to climb the overall ranks somewhat during the course of the race. In the end it was Nelson Piquet for Renault who took second, and Felipe Massa of Ferrari who took third. The three were followed by Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren Mercedes) respectively.
The race day dawned with incredibly wet conditions that ultimately made for some wild racing, but it seems that Lewis Hamilton managed to overcome all the obstacles to take the checkered flag at the British Grand Prix this past Sunday.
Hamilton’s last two races in Canada and France were not so good and he didn’t manage to collect points at either event. If his performance at Silverstone was as dismal this Sunday Hamilton would probably have lost out on taking the overall Formula One title, but it seems that in the end he managed to pull himself together rather well. His win not only gained him the Silverstone trophy, but put him in the overall lead. However, the race wasn’t easy, as wet conditions made the situation tricky at best. While other drivers struggled to find the right tires to keep them on course, Hamilton managed to stay in control for the entire race. His McLaren seemed to cope with the trying situation with effortless ease as other cars veered off course or spun off the circuit. His visor gave him problems and he had very low visibility but still somehow managed to keep going. Yet despite this it was clear that he was in a league of his own from early on in the race and the 23-year-old Briton was leading the field from the fourth lap. By the time he was nearing the finish line he’d managed to lap all but two of the cars still in the field. His performance was so good under the trying circumstances, in fact, that the 90 000 fans present seemed to think it was worthy of a standing ovation! The win marks Hamilton’s first British Grand Prix trophy and is will no doubt have a special place in his heart – not only for surviving under such difficult conditions but because some of his best driving and his most impressive victory happened in his home country.
Hamilton now has 48 points in the Formula One series and is tied with both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari. However, he is in the championship lead because his finishes have been better than the other drivers’. Raikkonen only finished fourth.