Honda F1 website
Honda website

Malaysian GP 2012

MARCH 25, 2012

Race Notes - Alonso wins Malaysian GP

Fernando Alonso, Malaysian GP 2012
© The Cahier Archive

Fernando Alonso won a wet-dry Malaysian Grand Prix in the Ferrari, winning by 2.2 seconds ahead of Sergio Perez in the Sauber-Ferrari. Polesitter Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Mercedes was third, 14.5 seconds behind.

In a race that was red flagged after nine laps for nearly an hour as heavy rain fell, Alonso took advantage of changing conditions to take the lead from Hamilton and hold off the charging Perez in the closing laps to take the win. Alonso now leads the world championship by five points over Hamilton, and McLaren lead the constructors' championship.

Alonso takes his 28th career victory, now fifth in the all time standings for wins, behind Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell. It is the first career podium finish for Perez, and the first podium for a Mexican driver since Pedro Rodriguez finished second in the 1971 Duth Grand Prix.

Mark Webber (17.6s) finished fourth in the Red Bull-Renault, followed by Kimi Raikkonen (29.4s) in the Lotus-Renault in fifth, Bruno Senna (37.6s) in the Williams-Renault was sixth, Paul di Resta (44.4s) in the Force India-Mercedes finished seventh, Jean-Eric Vergne (46.9s) in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari was eighth, Nico Hulkenberg (47.8s) in the second Force India was ninth and Michael Schumacher (49.9s) in the Mercedes GP finished in the final points paying position in tenth place.

Hamilton started from pole position for the second time this season, on an all-McLaren front row.

With his gearbox change this weekend, Raikkonen moves from fifth to tenth on the grid. Kovalainen drops to the back of the grid.

There is one DRS zone this weekend on the start-finish straight.

Minutes before the start, clouds and rain were threatening. Rain started to fall, with umbrellas coming out. With five minutes to go, there was a light drizzle - air humidity up to 80%.

As the cars pull away from the grid, all drivers opt for the intermediate wet tyres, the track looking damp. Pedro de la Rosa's HRT doesn't get off the grid, and is pushed back to the pitlane.

At the start Hamilton takes the lead from Button. Grosjean jumps up to third, Schumacher is passed by Webber. Webber passes Grosjean for third. Schumacher and Grosjean touch and spin at turn 4, both continue but lose many places.

Perez and Senna pit for full-wet tyres. Rain starts to fall hard in the pitlane.

At the end of lap 1, the order is Hamilton, Button, Webber, Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg, Maldonado, Raikkonen, Kobayashi and Massa.

On lap 3 Di Resta pits.

On lap 4 Massa, Glock and Pic pit for full wets. Grosjean ends up in stuck in a gravel trap.

On lap 5 Button, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, Petrov and Kovalainen all pit for full wets. Hamilton tells his team that the car is aquaplaning.

On lap 6 Hamilton, Webber, Vettel, Rosberg, Maldonado, Raikkonen, Kobayashi and Schumacher all pit for full wets. Hamilton gets back out just ahead of his team mate Button and stays in the lead.

At lap 6, Hamilton leads Button by 2.8 seconds, followed by Perez (9.2s), Webber (11.3s), Alonso (15.9s), Vettel (21.8s), Vergne (31.2s), Massa (31.7s), Rosberg (32.3s) and Karthikeyan (35.9s) in tenth place.

The rain intensifies, and Button reports to his team that the last sector is "like a lake".

On lap 7 Rosberg and Webber have run wide but continue. The safety car is deployed. Karthikeyan, running is tenth has not pitted and started on full wet tyres.

On lap 8 Senna pits for a new set of full wet tyres. Heavy rain continues and McLaren tell Hamilton that heavy rain could continue for another 30 minutes.

On lap 9 the red flag is displayed and the race is suspended and the car reform the on the grid on the pit straight. With about two more hours of daylight remaining everyone is hoping that the race will restart and not be a repeat of the rain-shortened 2009 event.

The teams are allowed to work on their cars during the race suspension, while the rain continues to fall - many teams erecting pop-up tents over their cars on the grid.

With the skies brightening, race control announces that the race will resume at 17.15 local time, all drivers fitting new full wet tyres.

After a 55 minute delay the cars leave the grid and the race resumes on lap 10 behind the safety car. The rain is expected to ease off. The HRT team in under investigation for team personnel not getting off the grid at the proper time with De la Rosa's car.

The order behind the safety car is Hamilton, followed by Button, Perez, Webber, Alonso, Vettel, Vergne, Massa, Rosberg, Karthikeyan, Hulkenberg, Di Resta, Raikkenen, Maldonado, Schumacher, Kobayashi, De la Rosa, Ricciardo, Petrov, Glock, Kovalainen, Pic and Senna in 23rd place.

Rosberg reports to the team that when they go green that he wants to switch immediately to intermediate wet tyres. Dela Roa is handed a drive-through penalty for the team not clearing the grid in time.

At the end of lap 13 the safety car comes in and the race continues under green.

Button, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Kobayashi, De la Rosa, Petrov, Glock and Senna pit for intermediates. Alonso passes Webber for third place. Vettel passes Webber at turn 4, but Webber takes the position back.

On lap 15 Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Di Resta, Maldonado, Schumacher, Ricciardo and Kovalainen pit for intermediate tyres. A slow stop for Hamilton, he rejoins behind Alonso.

Perez yet to pit takes over the lead. Button makes contact while lapping Karthikeyan's HRT, damaging the McLaren's front wing.

On lap 16 Perez, Vettel, Vergne, Hulkenberg, Pic and Karthikeyan pit for intermediates.

Button pits for a new nose.

Alonso now leads in his Ferrai from Perez, Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Raikkonen, Webber, Massa, Di Resta and Vergne in tenth.

On lap 17 De la Rosa pits for his drive-through penalty. Button sets fastest lap at 2m00.9s, running in 20th place. Mercedes tells Rosberg not to expect any more rain.

On lap 19 Ricciardo takes 14th place from Senna. DRS is now enabled.

At lap 20, Alonso leads Perez by 4.7 seconds, followed by Hamilton (11.2s), Rosberg (16.8s), Vettel (17.8s), Raikkonen (18.5s), Webber (20.5s), Massa (22,6s), Di Resta (23.6s) and Vergne (24.8s) in tenth place.

On lap 20 Raikkonen is closing on Vettel in fifth place. Ricciardo passes Kobayashi for 13th place. Button reports that his front tyres are not working well, and that he has no grip - the team says he should adjust the brake-balance more to the front.

Vettel and Raikkonen close on Rosberg in fourth place. Alonso sets fastest lap at 2m00.7s.

On lap 24 Vettel uses DRS to pass Rosberg for fourth place into the first corner. Senna repasses Ricciardo for 13th place.

Raikkonen passes Rosberg into the first corner for fifth place. Alonso reports that it is raining in turn 4, as he re-sets fastest lap a 2m00.4s.

On lap 25 Button pits from 19th place for new intermediate tyres, as the rain is falling lightly in the pitlane. Webber passes Rosberg to take sixth place. Senna passes Schumacher for 12th place.

Perez sets fastest lap, but Alonso re-sets it the next lap at 1m59.8s. Mass runs on the grass and loses a place to Di Resta. Senna passes Hulkenberg for tenth place.

On lap 27 Rosberg pits. Vergne passes Massa for ninth place. Alonso continues to edge away in the lead. Massa pits for more intermediates. Button sets fastest lap at 1m58.284s. Kobayashi chases Schumacher for 11th place.

On lap 28 Button sets fastest lap again at 1m58.0s. Kobayashi passes Schumacher.

At lap 30, Alonso leads Perez by 7.7 seconds, followed by Hamilton (15.5s), Vettel (23.9s), Raikkonen (31.2s), Webber (32.2s), Di Resta (38.8s), Vergne (42.4s), Senna (44.0s) and Hulkenberg (46.3s) in tenth place.

Alonso sets fastest lap at 1m58.0s. Red Bull reports to Webber to look for a shower in the next five minutes. The next lap Perez set fastest lap at 1m57.6s. The lap times start to tumble as the track starts to look dryer, Kobayashi taking fastest lap, followed again by Perez with 1m56.5s. Button passes Ricciardo for 17th place.

On lap 33 Perez takes off a couple tenths, going 1m56.2s to close the gap to Alonso to 6.3 seconds. Button closes in on Massa in 16th place. Perez laps in 1m55.7s.

On lap 35 Button passes Massa at the turn 2. Perez laps in 1m55.0s, closing to 4.9 seconds behind the leader.

On lap 36 Perez sets another fastest lap at 1m54.7s . Ricciardo passes Massa for 17th place. The next lap Perez cuts the lead to 3.2 seconds setting fastest lap at 1m54.0s, while the intermediates are wearing out, the teams waiting to see if the rain will returns.

Ricciardo pits and takes on dry medium compound tyres.

On lap 39 Perez sets another fastest lap at 1m53.4s and closes to 2.3 seconds behind Alonso. McLaren tells Button that the rain is coming, Massa pits for dry tyres. Perez goes faster - 1m53.1s, 1.3 seconds behind.

On lap 40 Webber, Di Resta, Senna,, Schumacher, Maldondo, Rosberg, Button and Petrov pit for dry tyres.

On lap 40 Alonso pits from the lead for dry tyres, along with Vettel, Raikkonen, Vergne, Hulkenberg and Kobayashi. Perez now leads.

On lap 41 Perez pits from the lead for dry tyres, Alonso retaking the lead. Hamilton pits from third place for a slow stop. Webber sets fastest lap at 1m45.9s, followed by Maldonado at 1m43.9s.

Reports of spots of rain now falling.

At lap 42 Alonso leads Perez by 7.1 seconds, followed by Hamilton (18.9s), Vettel (23.0s), Webber (27.3s), Raikkonen (36.9s), Di Resta (38.0s), Senna (38.5s), Vergne (44.1s) and Hulkenberg (45.0s) in tenth place.

Webber sets fastest lap at 1m43.0s.Hamilton, Vettel and Webber lapping in the 1m43s, while Perez is at 1m44s and leader Alonso in 1m45s.

On lap 45 Webber re-sets fastest lap at 1m42.2s, while Perez closes the gap on Alonso to 3.9 seconds.

On lap 46 Perez sets fastest lap at 1m41.7s and closes to 2.3 seconds behind the leader. He closes to 1.8 seconds the next lap. Kobayashi pits and retires.

On lap 48 Vettel has a right-rear tyre puncture, after clipping the front wing of an HRT as he lapped him - the tyre breaking apart as he makes his way to the pits. Vettel rejoins in 12th.

On lap 50 Perez closes to 0.5 seconds behind Alonso. Alonso on the medium tyre while Perez is on the harder tyre. Reports of possible rain in the first three corners, as Sauber tells Perez to be careful.

Perez makes a slight error and touches a kerb on the entry to a fast corner, and goes wide, losing 5 seconds to Alonso.

At lap 50 Alonso leads Perez by 5.3 seconds, followed by Hamilton (14.5s), Webber (20.2s), Raikkonen (34.7s), Senna (38.7s), Di Resta (41.1s), Vergne (44.5s), Hulkenberg (45.2s) and Maldonado (45.7s) in tenth place.

Raikkonen sets fastest lap at 1m41.0s. Perez closes to 4.5 seconds behind the lead. Hulkenberg is closing on Vergne in eighth place.

On lap 53 Raikkonen re-sets fastest lap at 1m40.7s.

On lap 55 Maldonado pulls his smoking Williams into the pits to retire.

On lap 56 Red Bull tells Vettel to retire the car, and then calls back to tell him to stay out instead - and then call back to retire the car immediately.

Alonso crosses the line 2.2 seconds ahead of Perez to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.