Red Bull won again in Sepang but two KERS failures revealed their vulnerability.
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’34.870 (-0.309)||1’35.179|
Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race:
At Melbourne there was speculation Red Bull were running a special Kinetic Energy Recovery System that only worked at the start.
Although it turned out not to be the case, it wasn’t far from what happened to Vettel in Malaysia. He had the vital extra boost in hand at the start but had to drive much of the race without KERS after it failed.
Fortunately for him by that time he’d already made the advantage of starting from pole position count.
It’s not clear why the stewards didn’t class Vettel’s behaviour at the start, where he clearly made two moves away from the racing line to defend his lead, as the same kind of weaving which Lewis Hamilton was given a penalty for later.
Hamilton was poised to dive down the inside when Vettel feinted right for a second time, and while Hamilton was held up Nick Heidfeld split the pair of them and inadvertently helped Vettel build an eight-second lead in the first 11 laps.
Vettel’s lead was reduced by Hamilton during the second stint but in the third stint he stretched his advantage again despite having lost his KERS.
Jenson Button took up the chase later in the race. But by this stage Vettel was managing the gap en route to his fifth win in six races and a perfect start to his championship defence.
Webber’s KERS failed before the start leaving him easy prey when the red lights went out. From third on the grid he fell to tenth.
Unlike Vettel, Webber committed to ‘Plan A’ which turned out to be a four-stop strategy. A lengthy scrap with Kamui Kobayashi delayed him to begin with.
But despite no boost button and four visits to the pit lane he was able to make some progress and overtook Felipe Massa for what would become fourth place.
2011 Malaysian Grand Prix
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