After a strong start to the season Fernando Alonso’s problems in Sepang have Ferrari worrying about reliability. But they still lead both the championships.
|Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q1)||1’53.283 (+0.239)||1’53.044|
|Average race lap||1’40.991 (-0.217)||1’41.208|
Failing to get out early enough in the wet qualifying session cost both Ferraris dearly – Massa started from 21st on the grid.
Not wanting to risk the soft tyres early in the race Massa stayed on hards until lap 26, gaining seven places at the start and, importantly, getting ahead of his team mate.
Having been 14th at the end of lap one he rose to fifth before his pit stop as cars in front of him pitted – but he wasn’t able to get past Sebastien Buemi’s ailing Toro Rosso.
He made up for that by getting by Jenson Button for seventh towards the end of the race, patiently pressuring the McLaren driver until he made a mistake at the final corner, allowing Massa to get by at turn one.
Alonso started 19th – ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Massa – but taking the wide line at the first turn cost him places to his rivals.
Although he scrambled past Button early in the race, that only meant he spent the following laps stuck behind his team mate – just as he had at Melbourne.
Despite losing his clutch early in the race Alonso kept up with his rivals and often looked capable of lapping quicker than them. He ran the longest first stint of the race – 36 laps – and even with his gearbox problem set some of the quickest laps of the race.
Three laps from home his engine blew, losing him a likely ninth-place finish and the lead of the drivers’ championship.