The Malaysian Grand Prix was the second round of the 2012 season. Lewis Hamilton took pole position followed by Jenson Button. Michael Schumacher was third with Mark Webber fourth. Alonso could only qualify 8th behind Rosberg in 7th.
There was half an hour of heavy steady rainfall before the start of the race, hence prompting the drivers to switch to intermediates. The track conditions were very tricky, the track being dry in corners 9,10,11. By the end of lap 1, Perez had changed to full wets and within the next 5 laps, the entire field had moved on to full wets as well. More heavy rain was about to come.
Safety car came in on lap 7 seeing the deteriorating conditions and on lap 9, the race was suspended for 50 minutes. FIA regulations meant that every driver had to be on full wets for the restart.
The race restarted behind the safety car.
4 laps behind the safety car and front runners began pitting for intermediates since the track was now drying out. Button made a mistake and clipped Karthikeyan ending his chances of a good result whereas Vettel had problems with his radio which restricted his strategy calls. Alonso emerged as the leader of the race when he overtook Sergio Perez on lap 16. Perez having switched to the full wets in the first lap itself was able to gain a lot from his pace and grip compared to others.
The track was drying very fast but the weather predictions pointed out towards a probable heavy shower again and hence the drivers weren’t willing to take the gamble of slicks. Their inters were completely worn off though.
Daniel Ricciardo took the gamble of changing to slicks on lap 37. Seeing his pace, being over 3s faster than anyone of the circuit, initiated the switch to slicks for everyone .
This is where Alonso had his share of problems. The Ferrari of 2012 was hardly competitive, something that they had already admitted in Australia and the pre season testing. When driving in wet weather conditions, it is more about the skill of the driver than it is about the car. Alonso was able to lead Perez by over 8s.
When the slicks came on, Perez came out strong and was able to cut Alonso’s lead by just over a second. Another round of pitstops took place from lap 38-41. Fernando Alonso switched to mediums on lap 39 while Perez took to the primes, a lap later. Perez was again fast and was able to put serious pressure on the Spaniard.
Perez was within half a second to Alonso and wasn’t willing to stay back. Sauber warned him about potentially ruining the second place as well and he was inch close to doing that when on lap 50 he overshoot the curb and lost 5s.
Hence Alonso was able to sustain the pressure at the end and win the race. It was a remarkable performance considering the constant battle with Perez and the tricky weather conditions. It was the sixth win for Ferrari at the circuit and a third Malaysian Grand Prix victory for Alonso.
It was one of Fernando Alonso’s star wins for Ferrari. No wonder his fans want him so desperately to do well with McLaren. It is just painful seeing him at the back fighting for positions outside the Top 10. Here’s hoping that the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix is kind to Fernando and McLaren.