Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton finished the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit in third and fifth positions respectively. After 56 laps (310.408 km's), Heikki came home 38.4 seconds behind winner...
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton finished the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit in third and fifth positions respectively. After 56 laps (310.408 km's), Heikki came home 38.4 seconds behind winner Kimi Raikkonen whilst Lewis was fifth, 46.5 seconds behind. Both drivers were on two-stop strategies. Lewis came in on laps 19 (19.9 seconds) and 44 (8.9 seconds) whilst Heikki made his pit stops on laps 20 (10.2 seconds) and 45 (7.2 seconds). During Lewis' first stop there was a failure of the wheel nut locking mechanism on his front right tyre causing almost a 10 second delay. After the second of 18 Grands Prix, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes maintains the lead in the Constructors' Championship with 24 points ahead of BMW Sauber with 19 points and Ferrari with 11 points. Lewis leads the drivers' ranking with 14 points ahead of Kimi and Nick Heidfeld (tied on 11 points) and Heikki, who is fourth with 10 points.
"I am pretty happy with my third place today, considering yesterday's penalty, and it was probably the best possible result for us in these circumstances. Our strategy worked really well and it meant that I was able to be in clean air for most of the race. The team really did a fantastic job and I am happy to reward them with my first podium for the team. I did have a small issue with graining during my first stint; however, I was able to stay out until lap 20, which helped me to overtake Jarno Trulli during my first pit stop. After my second stop I was able to play it safe and secure my third place, as it was not possible at this stage to go one better."
"I got a really good start and was pretty happy as we jumped five positions from ninth to fifth. I was pushing Mark for a very long time, but being behind someone, no matter how quick you are, it is really difficult to get past. We were in a good position for a shot at third place at least, but then I had the problem in my first pit stop which lost me a lot of time. So I did the best job I could. However we take away the fact that the car ran very reliably in these extreme conditions, and I was able to push Jarno right until the last second. I have to say that both Mark and Jarno drove really well today, and it was great to fight them out on track today."
"Two very strong performances from both Heikki and Lewis following an eventful weekend, which despite the problems yielded sufficient points to keep us ahead in both Championships. Heikki had a great race dealing well with the traffic and achieving a well deserved first podium position with the team. Lewis's race was hampered when a wheel nut locking mechanism failed during his first stop, costing him valuable time at a critical part in his race. The true pace of our cars was masked today by the inherent understeer that comes when driving in traffic. We now look forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix in two weeks' time."
"Heikki and Lewis did a good job following yesterday's relegation to eighth and ninth on the grid and after the wheel nut problem during Lewis's first pitstop. With third and fifth place we scored 10 valuable points. Heikki made the best out of his strategy and achieved his first podium for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes - well done for him and the team. Today Lewis obviously had two handicaps starting ninth and losing more than 10 seconds in the pits, but still we finished in the points with both cars in both races of the season so far. We all will now continue to work hard to further improve our performance."