Fernando Alonso and Ferrari claimed victory at the Sepang International Circuit in extremely challenging conditions.
The Spaniard put in a faultless performance and showed why he is a double World Champion. His first race win since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone last year has proven that Ferrari can still compete for podium positions in 2012.
The drive of the day came from the second place Sauber driven by Sergio Perez.
The young Mexican took full advantage of the adverse conditions and showed that strategy and timing are vital to optimising track position over the distance of a Grand Prix.
Pole-sitter and the initial race leader, Lewis Hamilton, failed to uphold another impressive qualifying performance and finished third spot on the podium for the second week running.
The race was red flagged on lap 9 after being behind the safety car for several laps. Conditions were deemed too dangerous by FIA chief Charlie Whiting and the race was halted until the downpour subsided. It was 51 minutes until the cars were restarted under the safety car with Hamilton in control.
Bad luck struck the Brit once again with a poor pit stop and heavy traffic on re-entry to the pit lane, meaning he lost track position to Perez and Alonso.
From the 17th lap onwards it was the battle between the Ferrari and the Sauber that was most gripping to F1 fans. There was little that Hamilton or either of the two Red Bulls could do to compete with the competition at the front.
The front two opted for the different compounds of the slick tyres towards the later stage of the race and Perez, on the harder tyre, began to eat into the 7.1 second gap on lap 42 which had been cut to less than half a second by lap 49 of the race.
It seemed inevitable that the fairy-tale to Sergio Perez’s race was going to happen were it not for a driver error from the young Mexican at a crucial stage. Running wide on turn 14, leading on to the pit straight which gave Alonso just the right amount of breathing space he needed to take the chequered flag and his 28th Grand Prix victory.
There were disappointing performances from Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel who both finished outside of the points. Both drivers sustained damage to their cars by colliding with Narain Karthikeyan in his HRT-Cosworth on separate occasions during the race.
Sergio Perez’s impressive performance has stirred rumours and speculations that he is to replace Felipe Massa in the Ferrari at the end of this season, and his pace around the Sepang Circuit has only heightened his reputation as a top driver. Despite a sterling race from Perez he spoke of his disappointment that he could not pull of an extraordinary victory:
‘Today a win was possible, I was catching Fernando and I knew I had to get him soon because (on) the sectors with high speed I was losing the front tyres.’
‘I touched the curb and I went onto the dirty side of the track. It was completely wet and I lost the win.’
Fernando Alonso spoke of his victory which now takes him to lead the Drivers World Championship with 35 points, Ahead of Hamilton’s 30 points and Button’s 25:
‘It’s a tough time for us at the moment, but this is a Sunday we will remember’
‘We are very united and this win will make us very happy, but it doesn’t change our determination to improve the car and to keep winning.’
The Malaysian Grand prix has provided an astonishing result as the top ten spots were occupied by 9 of the 12 teams. The drivers that finished in the points were separated by a mere 50 seconds by the end of the 310 kilometre race. These figures add fuel to the argument that this season Formula 1 World Championship will be closer than ever and the driver and team to seize control in Shanghai on the 15th of April for the Chinese Grand Prix is anyone’s guess.