Sebastian Vettel defeated Mark Webber in a ferocious Red Bull intra-team battle to secure Malaysian Grand Prix victory.
Just behind them, a similar scenario was playing out between the Mercedes team-mates, before Lewis Hamilton – who had been a lead threat for a spell – led home Nico Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso’s bid for victory ended early, when he crashed out having sustained wing damage nudging Vettel.
Lotus claimed sixth and seventh with Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, the latter having an uneventful afternoon that included trips off the road and a bitter battle with Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, who took eighth.
Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.298 3. Hamilton Mercedes + 12.1 4. Rosberg Mercedes + 12.640 5. Massa Ferrari + 25.6 6. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 35.5 7. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 48.4 8. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari + 53.0 9. Perez McLaren-Mercedes + 72.3 10. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 87.1 11. Bottas Williams-Renault + 88.6 12. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap 13. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth + 1 lap 14. Pic Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 15. van der Garde Caterham-Renault + 1 lap 16. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps 17. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 18. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 19. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 20. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 21. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 22. Alonso Ferrari + Fastest lap: Perez, 1m39.199 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap World Championship standings, round 2: Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 40 1. Red Bull-Renault 66 2. Raikkonen 31 2. Lotus-Renault 40 3. Webber 26 3. Ferrari 40 4. Hamilton 25 4. Mercedes 37 5. Massa 22 5. Force India-Mercedes 10 6. Alonso 18 6. McLaren-Mercedes 4 7. Rosberg 12 7. Sauber-Ferrari 4 8. Grosjean 9 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 9. Sutil 6 10. Di Resta 4 11. Hulkenberg 4 12. Button 2 13. Perez 2 14. Vergne 1
Video: Onboard start with Kimi
Kimi Raikkonen – 7th: “Although the car felt very good on Friday, yesterday and today have been pretty difficult. Since Saturday morning it has not been behaving as we expected for some reason, especially in the wet where we really struggled for grip. It was a tough race and I lost part of my front wing at the start which didn’t help, but at least we scored a few points which is better than coming away with nothing. If we can get the car back to how it was in Australia then I’m sure we’ll be at the front again.”
Romain Grosjean – 6th: “I think we can be quite happy with the result today. It was a tough race, starting wet and finishing dry, but that’s what you expect in Malaysia. I spent a lot of time stuck behind Felipe [Massa] in the middle phase of the race and I’m sure if I could have passed him earlier then I would have stayed ahead, but by the end my tyres were finished so it was best just to let him through. It’s not the result we would have wanted at the beginning of the weekend, but at the end of the day it’s more points for the team and we’ll try to come back stronger in Shanghai.”
Eric Boullier, team principal: “It’s not been the best day for us, but when you take into account our qualifying positions and the difficult start for both drivers I think the points we take for sixth and seventh is a solid result. Unfortunately with the conditions today we didn’t see the full potential of the car, and the time we lost at the start was always going to be difficult to catch up. To finish within a reasonable distance of the leaders was a good effort from both drivers and also the team in terms of our strategy. With a normal weekend I’m sure we can expect some stronger results.”
James Allison, Technical Director: “This weekend feels like a case of what might have been. We had a car on Friday which looked extremely promising, but unfortunately that didn’t translate into the sort of result we’d expect. Qualifying 10th and 11th – particularly in the wet – was not an ideal start, with the consequence that within seven laps we were around thirty seconds from the front. Our progress thereafter was actually quite respectable so it’s frustrating to have lost touch with the race at such an early stage, but I’m confident we’ll be delivering some stronger results in the coming races.”