Malaysian GP post-race notes

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There’s never enough time to cover everything that goes on at a Grand Prix weekend in the post-race review.

So after reading various race reports and looking at the detailed statistics I’ve compiled a few more thoughts on the Malaysian Grand Prix including a little bit of lap times analysis, a look at some of the new technology, and a look at a former F1 designer’s claim the Ferrari team mates battle was fixed.

Hope you find it useful, if so leave a comment and I may try to make it a regular thing.

Kimi Raikkonen vs Felipe Massa

Massa’s spin at Sepang was almost certainly down to driver error. After the race some sources claimed Ferrari had put about an explanation that the airflow over his wings had stalled after he hit the kerb too hard, but as Mark Hughes explained in Autosport, “the airflow will have had plenty of time to reattach in the space of two corners.”

Was Massa ever in the hunt for the win? Not according to Gary Anderson: “he way in which Raikkonen went past Massa at the first stop makes me suspect that Ferrari had it planned from the outset.” Here are their lap times around that crucial moment:


14 1:35.871
15 1:35.988
16 1:35.966
17 1:35.679
18 1:38.555 (pits)
19 2:02.007
20 1:36.820


14 1:35.960
15 1:35.914
16 1:35.988
17 1:38.918 (pits)
18 2:02.668
19 1:37.867
20 1:37.746

Lap 14 was the first time either got into the 1’35s – and Raikkonen was faster. He kept the gap between them as short as he could as Massa headed for the pits and lowered the fastest lap of the race again on lap 17 to pile on the pressure. He then took on less fuel than Massa at the first stop, which along with his quicker laps explains how he got ahead.

Massa might have jumped back ahead at the second set of stops but could not maintain the same gap to Raikkonen – despite having less fuel on board – and spun off trying.

Odds & ends

BMW continued their policy of fuelling one driver lighter than the other at Sepang – this time it was Nick Heidfeld’s turn to go light, but for various reasons it all went wrong. He was delayed by the McLarens in qualifying, nudged wide by Jarno Trulli at the start of the race, and never saw team mate Robert Kubica.

Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified Lewis Hamilton despite having one lap less fuel in his McLaren’s tank. But Hamilton seems to have had the better race pace, despite spending most of the Grand Prix in traffic – he was faster than Kovalainen in all three sectors.

Jenson Button set the fourth-fastest lap of the race in his Honda, but it’s more likely to be representative of the improving track conditions throughout the race (Button set his fastest lap on the final tour) than a major step forward in competitiveness for the RA108.

Williams qualified 7th and 13th in Melbourne, 16th and 18th in Sepang. The team said they failed to make their tyres work on the resurfaced Sepang track. Nico Rosberg might have made progress in his brim-full FW30 had he not hit Timo Glock on the first lap.

How much faster is Ferrari than McLaren? It’s still hard to tell because Raikkonen was clearly managing his pace after Massa went out. But here are the fastest laps of the four cars by lap 30, when Massa went out:

Raikkonen – 1’35.679
Massa – 1’35.914
Kovalainen – 1’35.922
Hamilton – 1’35.988

Car developments

Clockwise from top left: McLaren’s extra U-shaped rear wing to channel the airflow between the end plates more efficiently; in Malaysia Renault were willing to sacrifice rear aerodynamic efficiency to allow better cooling of their rear dampers with this heat exhaust; Force India combine their rear view mirrors with novel wings; Kazuki Nakajima’s pit stop provides a glimpse of the FW30’s flow-conditioning wing beneath its brake duct.

The stewards are keeping an eye on how the top teams get their cars off the line – in Melbourne the start data of both McLarens plus Nick Heidfeld’s BMW were checked, and in Sepang Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso’s car were inspected in the same way. These were routine checks that discovered nothing, however in Malaysia the stewards recorded the software versions all the teams were using and the Renault engined cars (Renault and Red Bull) were using an earlier software version (1.00.021) than the other teams (1.00.023).

Malaysia engine changes

David Coulthard

(Did not finish the Australian Grand Prix and changed his engine without penalty)

Malaysia gearbox changes

Kimi Raikkonen
Felipe Massa
David Coulthard
Jarno Trulli
Timo Glock
Sebastien Bourdais
Jenson Button
Takuma Sato
Anthony Davidson
Giancarlo Fisichella

(All did not finish the Australian Grand Prix and changed their gearboxes without penalties)

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Malaysian GP post-race notes”

  1. Varun.S.Murthy
    30th March 2008, 10:06

    I like it too..and its very difficult to go into such detail right after the GP..keep it on!!

  2. Massa’s air stalled as he hit the kerb?
    ur kidding?
    as he spun he was a touch wide of the apex, the outside, loaded side of the car got onto the dirty track and he lost it!
    long story short! he’s no good
    he wont win a race this year!

  3. Massa might have jumped back ahead at the second set of stops but could maintain the same gap to Raikkonen – despite having less fuel on board – and spun off trying.

    You’re missing a ‘not’ ;)

    Great blog by the way.

  4. Lady Snowcat
    30th March 2008, 11:53

    Great stuff but I think you miss something here…

    Kimi was stright back onto the pace following his pit stop as despite the heavier fuel and cold tyres he was in the 1min 36s immediately whereas Felipe was in the 1min 37s and that wasn’t so different to Nick Heidfeld who dropped a well over a second after his pitstop too…

    This implies that Kimi, who didn’t do a full clear lap for the stats after Felipe came in but before pitting, was probably able to circulate faster than he had and could have been closer to the 1min 34s he had done in Q2 the day before….

    So Kimi had bided his time and been able to storm past without help from anyone except the usual slick pitwork from the Ferrari crew…

    Kimi immediately pulled out a 4 second gap to Massa in the second stint which Massa had no way of getting back unless a safety car had been called out…

  5. Really interesting analysis, thank you

  6. Nice spot Katie, thanks, fixed it.

  7. Don’t you think that it is unfair not to punish those who changed gearboxes, but didn’t finish?

    I mean, the car/driver who finishes, but only needs a gearbox change, is more reliable, and spends less money, than the one who has, i.e., an engine failure, and needs or wants to change his gearbox… so, doing this, they’re punishing the more realible and less costy driver…

    Or dou you think that punishing the one who already DNF’s would be a "bis in idem" (in english, double jeopardy) (double punishment for the same fact)?

  8. I think it’s the latter, Daniel. You’re not exactly gaining a performance advantage worth having if your fast-but-fragile gearbox breaks before you get any reward for it.

  9. Keith,
    Is the end of the sentence missing after "Kazuki Nakajima’s pit stop provides a glimpse of the…."

  10. Yet again more interesting info – thanks Keith – hope you sleep ok – mind not buzzing too much thinking what next??

  11. Great feature! Thanks for finding new statistics to think about, this is what keeps me bringing here everyday :)

  12. Thanks Cyanide, and Wesley – I’ve fixed that sentence :-)

  13. Thank You for your article. Its nice read facts from races not only how good Lewis is or how bad other drivers are.

Comments are closed.