Formula 1 had quite the adventure in Malaysia this weekend. Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel once again prevailed over the competition. A near perfect start and solid pit stop strategy, as well as a little bit of luck with the weather helped him pull away from the field and stand atop the podium again. Jensen Button of McLaren took advantage of the same conditions in a run to second place. He finished about three seconds behind Vettel, which could be a sign of the other teams beginning to catch up to Red Bull's pace. Nick Heidfeld, a man who was rideless until Renault's Robert Kubica was injured in a pre-season rally accident drove brilliantly to a third place finish. Wearing a black helmet matching the new black-gold livery of the Renault chassis he drove calmly and steadily throughout the grand prix, never making a mistake in the sometimes slick conditions. Heidfeld's team mate Vitaly Petrov however would not be so lucky.
Mark Weber in the second Red Bull had a good result, finishing 4th despite a poor start and a non-functioning KERS boost, adding 30 kilos of weight to the car with no benefit. Ferrari's duo of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso finished 5ht and 6th despite a penalty on Alonso for avoidable contact. Kobayashi from Sauber, Hamilton from McLaren (also penalized for the Alonso incident), Schumacher from Mercedes, and rookie Paul Di Resta from Forec india round out the points paying positions.
GT1 had a weekend of either great success of disappointment in Belgium. After a first lap incident by a number of cars in race one, the Lamborghini Murcielago wove through the carnage to the front of the field. There was turning back as the duo of Markus Winkelhock and Marc Basseng won both the qualifying and championship races. Savvy race fans will remember Winelhock as the nearly unknown driver from Spyker F1 back in 2007, who used an early call for rain tires to lead the field around Nurbergring in a race where some of the sports top tier made the wrong call and got washed into the gravel traps by a sudden downpour. As Lamborghini transitions to a new top flight car this year, it is a great feeling seeing race wins on the eve of a great car's career. The Nissan GTR, which was expected to be the car to beat this year had a disastrous showing this weekend. The two teams running the Japanese super car are running 4th and 7th in the championship. After managing 3rd and 4th in the qualifying race the marque fell apart in the championship race. Of the four cars entered the best finish was 9th place, the only GTR to finish the race.
Grand-Am competition was much calmer at Barber than I had expected, with most of the problems occurring when a pack of the faster prototype cars was overtaking the slower GT class. The GT's were the victims in these cases, with Nonnamaker's Mazda RX8 taking a hard hit into the guardrails. The Chip Ganassi racing car, a Riley chassis with a BMW engine started slowly but made no mistakes, as driver pair Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett used fuel mileage and reliability to make a strong run deep into the race, where Pruett used his extensive experience to overtake his remaining opposition one by one. In the GT class BMW prevailed again. The M3 of Turner Motorsports ran it's iconic yellow and blue liveried car to the win once again. I think the reduction of size from last year's M6 is the biggest key to Turner's success.
Indycar shared the track at Barber, running their race Sunday. The Indycar chassis is viciously fast around this course's long sweeping sections but this gives very little room for error. When added to indycar's new two abreast start contact was frequent. Australian Will Power found the way to success, by leading all 90 laps of the race (a feat not accomplished since the 2009 season). A pair of cars fielded by Ganassi, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, finished 2nd and 3rd. Marco Andretti, the third generation of that family in racing, made up for a first lap retirement last week with a 4th place finish. Other notable drives included Tony Kanaan, who until a week before the season was not sure if he even had a ride, qualified 24th and fought through the field, securing a 6th place finish, showing that the KV-Lotus racing cars are more than just a pretty paint job. Simona de Silvestro had another solid run, finishing 9th after passing indycar's other female driver, Danica Patrick in the closing stages of the race, this puts her 5th in the points standings. Sebastian Bourdais, an alumni of the now defunct Champ Car series, and a factory driver for Peugeot's endurance team was supposed to compete last race in St. Petersburg, but had a fiery crash in morning warm-ups and didn't make the grid. He managed an 11th place finish and made good passes in the backfield. Expect his experience in other series to come to light soon in this series.
Well its was a busy weekend, but next week is going to be just as hectic. Formula 1 on China, with American Le Mans and Indycar in Long Beach. Also I might do a little Nascar write-up for Talladega if I get some requests. I'll leave you guys with one last picture of those roadside sculptures from Barber, have a good week everybody.