Malaysian GP: McLaren Mercedes race report

LEWIS HAMILTON Started: 12th Finished: 7th Fastest lap: 1m39.141s on lap 17 (11th) Pitstops: three (O-W-I-W; laps 22-27-30) Heavily fuelled and starting from 12th on the grid, Lewis attacked from the very start, slotting into 10th and staying...

LEWIS HAMILTON
Started: 12th
Finished: 7th

Fastest lap: 1m39.141s on lap 17 (11th)
Pitstops: three (O-W-I-W; laps 22-27-30)

Heavily fuelled and starting from 12th on the grid, Lewis attacked from the very start, slotting into 10th and staying in touch with many lighter-fuelled cars until making his first pitstop. Despite lacking the outright downforce of those around him, particularly through the middle sector, Lewis battled with Sebastian Vettel and Nick Heidfeld, eventually moving up to fifth as those around him pitted for tyres and fuel.

His heavier fuel-load allowed him to remain on-track until lap 22, when the rain started falling, and the team fitted full-wets in anticipation of a typical late-afternoon deluge. Lewis said: "It was a very tough call because you could only see the clouds, and then some parts of the track were wetter than others so it was hard to commit."

When the predicted rains failed to fall, Lewis struggled to keep temperature in the full-wets and, with the rubber disintegrating, the team opted to switch him to inters (lap 27). He then reverted back to full-wets and was fuelled to the end (lap 30) as the heavens opened. "When the rain came down, it was impossible to drive," explained Lewis. "I was aquaplaning everywhere -- these were the most dangerous conditions I've ever raced in."

With the track almost undriveable due to the standing water, the decision was taken to red-flag the race on lap 32, when Lewis was fifth. With the results declared a lap earlier, Lewis was finally classified seventh -- scoring one point, as the shortened race merited half-points for the top eight.

"All I could do was try and keep the car on the track," said Lewis. "It was the correct decision to stop the race because it was just too dangerous for everyone. I love it when it rains, but this was just too much."

HEIKKI KOVALAINEN
Started: 14th
Finished: ret

Heikki's race was shortlived. Starting 14th, he made a good start to trail Lewis into the first corner but subsequently lost the rear-end of the car entering Turn Five and spun into the gravel. "My start was okay," he said afterwards. "I was taking it quite carefully and was trying to slot in behind Lewis, then I just lost the rear and spun out. It was my mistake. Game over."

MARTIN WHITMARSH -- team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"The extremely changeable dry-wet conditions made today's race a very challenging one for all competitors -- but, as ever, Lewis's ability shone brightly in the gathering gloom and the race brought another really impressive performance from him. He kept his head throughout, and the result was a hard-earned point for seventh place. That may not sound like a great deal by our usually high standards -- but, given where he started, it's a step in the right direction. Overall, then, in testing conditions the team did a great job -- as did Lewis."

NORBERT HAUG -- vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

"A race like a battle. Despite starting from the sixth row on the grid, Lewis was in good shape -- and everybody who kept his car on the track in these conditions was a hero today. Congratulations to Jenson Button and Brawn GP on the second consecutive win with Mercedes power; which he both achieved from pole position."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Brawn GP