Kimi Raikkonen won the Malaysian Grand Prix in a Ferrari revival following the problems of the opening race in Melbourne.
For Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren, it was a return to the bad luck and avoidable mistakes that cost him the title at the end of last season.
Given a five place grid penalty for impeding Nick Heidfeld’s BMW in Qualifying, he was then the hapless victim of a pit-stop blunder by his team and ran out of water during the race.
In the end he finished fifth, probably the best he could hope for in the trying circumstances and the scorching heat of the race.
In the pits it was apparently a Â£1,000 titanium wheel nut that caused the problem. Hamilton found himself parked up for nearly 20 seconds during his first refuel, with his mechanics panicking over the front, right wheel.
When he finally got underway, he was in midfield and being held up by Mark Webber’s Red Bull. That was it until the next time.
“I didn’t have any water all race,” he said after confessing he could have done with a cold beer. “But the great thing is my fitness. Physically, I felt fine and was able to push all race. I feel better than last year.”
Felipe Massa started on pole and kept in front until the first round of pit stops. Then Raikkonen put in one super-fast lap to come out in front.
A Ferrari one-two looked assured, only for Massa to spin off on lap 31 when he clipped the kerb and lost control entering the next corner. Some commentators are wondering whether Massa can handle the car now that driver aids have been removed. Raikkonen proved he can, despite his poor performance in Melbourne which relegated him to eighth place.
“We’ve had a very complicated start to the season, but I have certainly not lost faith in the team. We can still do better,” said Raikkonen.
Hamilton still leads the Drivers’ Championship by three points. He said: “It was a difficult weekend. So so. Comme ci, comme ca. We can improve but I look forward to the next race still leading. We still got four points and that is key. I did the best job I could. At least the reliability of the car was great and we had good pace. We have to make sure we get the guns working next time and do a better job in qualifying. We can bounce back.”
He will be hoping that McLaren can recapture their mojo at Bahrain in two weeks.