Start shots: Malaysian Grand Prix

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The wide but tightening first corners at Sepang have seen several incident-packed starts to the Malaysian Grand Prix. Here’s a look back on some of the most memorable.


Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Schumacher duked it out at the start in 2002. The pair tangled in turn one which delayed Montoya and left Schumacher with a broken front wing (see below). Controversially, the stewards also handed Montoya a penalty. Nonetheless he recovered to finish second between the two Schumachers, with victory going to the Williams of Ralf.


For the second year in a row Schumacher tangled with a rival at the start – this time it was Jarno Trulli at turn two.

Fernando Alonso had set a new record as the youngest ever pole sitter and led the pack to turn one but it was Kimi Raikkonen who emerged from the pack to claim his first F1 victory.


Alonso and Trulli shared the front row again in 2005 – though by this time Trulli was in a Toyota. They finished in the same order, albeit 24 seconds apart.


While Fisichella’s Renault started from pole position Alonso’s was fuelled too heavily in qualifying, leaving him seventh on the grid. But a superb start saw him squeeze between the McLarens of Raikkonen and Montoya then sweep around the battling Williams duo Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber to hold third. Later in the race he jumped Jenson Button’s Honda to finish second behind Fisichella.


It was an all-Ferrari fight at the front in 2008. Raikkonen got down the inside of pole sitter Felipe Massa at the start but gave best to his team mate as they braked for turn one. Raikkonen ultimately prevailed however – Massa spun off while chasing his team mate.

Trulli was squeezed between the two BMWs at the first corner and edged Nick Heidfeld wide, which left him vulnerable to a gutsy attack from Lewis Hamilton at turn four.


Button’s Brawn and Trulli’s Toyota shared the front row but it was Rosberg who burst through from fourth on the grid to take the lead for Williams. It didn’t last, however – Button won a race which was stopped 25 laps short of distance due to heavy rain and darkening skies. Robert Kubica’s BMW was left on the line.


Webber took a superb pole position by gambling on intermediate tyres on a wet track but lost his advantage to Sebastian Vettel at the start, which set the shape of Red Bull’s eventual one-two finish.


Sebastian Vettel ensured a second consecutive Malaysian Grand Prix victory by defending hard from Hamilton at the start – so much so that Heidfeld’s Renault swept past the McLaren into second place. Heidfeld eventually dropped to third behind Button in the other McLaren.


A decisive skirmish early in the 2013 championship campaign: Alonso tagged the back of Vettel’s car at the start, and on lap two skated into retirement when his damaged front wing broke off. Vettel won the race following a controversial run-in with his team mate.


Vettel was beaten to pole position by Hamilton last year – the pair separated by just five-hundredths of a second. But at the start the second Mercedes quickly pierced Vettel’s defences, leaving him to finish third behind the dominant W05s.

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    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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    31 comments on “Start shots: Malaysian Grand Prix”

    1. Alonso not pitting with his broken wing in 2013 still is for me one of the biggest mistakes in his career. They surely must’ve remembered what happend to Rosberg the previous season at Korea and how lucky he was getting back to the pits. He could’ve gotten some points out of that race for sure.

      1. @xtwl
        Actually, Rosberg’s “collapsed front wing” occurred later that season in Korea, when he was quite literally in the process of overtaking Hamilton.

        As for Alonso’s biggest mistake, it has to be in either 2007, 2010 or 2012; because mistakes in those seasons probably cost him a WDC. It didn’t in 2013.

        1. Got to agree.. I think Hungary 2007 pit stop fiasco has got to hurt him, as he would have been WDC that year if he hadn’t gotten that penalty. In 2010 the China jumpstart must have really hurt.. coz it was an avoidable driver error. In 2012, his aggressive start, squeezing Kimi, must have really stung.

          Guessing those are his 3 biggest regrets. He would have ben a 5 time WDC if he had avoided those

        2. @kingshark I did say Korea. Neither did I say it was his biggest mistake, I said ‘one of’.

          1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
            25th March 2015, 13:07

            @Kingshark ‘s point was that it was Korea *later that season*, i.e. Ferrari & Alonso could not have “remembered what happened to Rosberg” as that incident was yet to occur.

    2. With that 600-metre plus run down towards the first braking zone, the 4th longest after Sochi, the Hermanos Rodriguez and Barcelona, this should be one of the best starts of the season.

    3. I might still be awake for turn 1.

    4. Looks at that shot of different teams at the front of the 2009 field. Those were the good old days! :(

      1. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. 2009 was kind of an anomalous season.

        Unfortunately, this is a side effect of sorting cars out by fastest to slowest before the race begins.

    5. Who also remembers Webber’s horrific start in 2004? He started second alongside Schumacher but lost around 10 positions after turn one.

      1. Horrific starts were Webber’s signature.

    6. A nice addition to F1Fanatic @KeithCollantine.

    7. The F2001 (Ferrari confusingly used it for the opening rounds of 2002) was stunning. Shame its successor, the F2002, produced one of the most boring and predictable seasons in F1 history.

      1. Not “confusingly”, the F2002 simply wasn’t ready at that stage. The F2002 was also used at the start of 2003 (getting a fitting sendoff by winning San Marino), and the F2004 at the start of 2005.

    8. It’s the first time the nose of the F2008 looka high to me, having got used to current regulations; but it never ceases to amaze me with its beauty.

    9. RIC hiding on that 2014 photo, almost looks like Alonso’s car had two rear wings and some extra wheels :)

    10. Love those 2002 cars. What is the cut off point for this article-why not go back as far as 1999 ?

      1. Looking forward to these article each month now. Love those 2002 cars. What is the cut off point for this article-why not go back as far as 1999 ?
        Edit: is 2002 when f1fanatic started…?

      2. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
        24th March 2015, 18:27

        The article says “Most memorable”, can’t remember myself but I guess those missed out were not memorable.

      3. @skylab @weeniebeenie It comes down to which years I want to feature and how good the available images of the various seasons are.

    11. Mr win or lose
      24th March 2015, 17:11

      The starts of the 2001 and 2007 Malaysian GP were also epic.

    12. Simon (@weeniebeenie)
      24th March 2015, 18:28

      One thing you do notice looking through those shots is the vibrant and varied colour on the grid slowly disappearing.

      1. @weeniebeenie Also the number of cars – particularly if you were to add a picture from this season.

    13. The 2010 picture looks surreal, like it’s a screenshot from a game.

      Like has been said above: a nice addition to F1Fanatic :)

    14. Paul Rodriguez
      24th March 2015, 20:17

      Well, if anyone was concerned about ugly looking cars in 2014, that ’05 Renault was hideous!

    15. 2007 was also brilliant, a classic case of the McLaren drivers (Alonso, Lewis) simply out-racing the Ferrari drivers (Massa, Kimi).

    16. Oh yeah..memories of Sepang!..I remember my first time there in 2004…..the BMW V10 was just mega down the main straight.

    17. There are some fine looking grids here. Those 2002 cars look so low and wide and mean!
      A few days ago an article was cited that suggested asking the fans what they want would be a good place to start if the FIA want to know what areas F1 needs improving. Looking at the photos makes me wonder if asking the car manufactures might be better. Why did Toyota pull out of F1 and go into WEC for example. I don’t believe it had much to do with technical regulations and how relevant they are to road cars. Surely they must be spending just as abnoxious sums of money on WEC as they did with F1; it has so much more testing going on and never ending technical development. What about BMW and why did Nissan go down the WEC route? You would think F1 would give them a lot more market exposure than WEC?
      What F1 needs to improve is bigger, competitive grids and more car manufacturers being involved would be the best way to solve this IMO.
      Considering the way CVC and BE run things at the moment I can fully understand their reluctance.

    18. just look at those 2002 beauties. it’s a visual treat. low and wide stance, subtle wings, nothing out of proportions. Pure Mean Machines. i say, bring those simple small front wings to reduce so much of Aero stuff fooling around with performance. What kind of crappy and complex front and rear wings have evolved into. totally out of proportions with the stance of the machine. might as well, they run radio cars in wind tunnel and battle it out right there and save some fortune.
      Well, this might seem totally off topic and out of place, but when you look at memorable moments from the past, this is the 1st thing to strike the eyes, even before the race events itself. And Sepang has always been a mixed bet with its bends and 2 long straights. excess aero dependence has killed true racing and driver performance which as per my honest opinion, is completely based on mechanicals of the car, right from tyre grip to engine response. Aero has literally made it all insignificant. As long as the car is pinned down by the wind, doesn’t matter who is driving it. Take out those hideous wings and aero and it is all back to true spirit of racing. the real skill of pushing as well as keeping the car on the track, and then you can see some real road relevant development is suspension systems, brakes, engine response, and the list goes on till every single mechanical fitting on the car that actually makes it a package and which actually is road relevant. Aero is hardly a factor in road cars, unless you are driving super cars (which are insignificant in number compared to real-world daily drive of people).

      I guess too much of nostalgia and dislike for the wings is speaking here for me. enough said… Grrrrrrr…..

    19. It’s interesting how red Ferrari became less and less of a red Ferrari over the years.

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