The Malaysian Grand Prix was supposed to be a fight between McLaren and Red Bull, with Mercedes and Lotus in the mix. Ferrari were thought to be out of contention, as were Sauber. Just before the start, the rain came down, and all predictions went out the window.
When the track became so wet that the third sector was impossible to drive, the race was suspended until the rain abated. After the restart, a flurry of pitstops upset the order, and Fernando Alonso emerged in the lead. Jenson Button dropped down the field after contact with Narain Karthikeyan who was running an unbelievable tenth in the HRT at the restart.
Sergio Perez had made an early pitstop to change from intermediate to wet tyres, a move that paid off as he was running third at the restart and found himself second behind Alonso when the field settled down after the pitstops.
Perez set about chasing after Alonso, gradually reeling in the Ferrari until the field pitted again to go onto slick tyres. Alonso pitted for slicks a lap before Perez, which opened the gap a bit, but Perez was quicker than Alonso and caught up with a few laps to go. Unfortunately, a mistake by Perez caused him to run wide and, although he rejoined the track, his chances of a win had all but evaporated.
Alonso held on for an extremely unexpected Ferrari victory, with Perez a superb second and Hamilton third. The quality of Alonso’s drive is obvious when compared to Felipe Massa’s 15th place, 97 seconds behind his team leader. The performance of the day arguably came from Perez, as the Mexican scored his first podium, which could easily have been a win.
Mercedes disappointed with Schumacher 10th after contact with Grosjean early on, and Rosberg 13th, although Schumacher has at least now scored a point this season. Their qualifying pace has so far not translated into race pace, which will trouble the team. Lotus were impressive again, with Raikkonen finishing 5th. Team-mate Romain Grosjean spun off a short while after his contact with Schumacher. Williams also continued their run of form with Bruno Senna scoring his best Formula One result in 6th place.
The Formula One circus proceeds to China in three weeks time, where the racing will hopefully be as enthralling as it has already been this season.