Malaysian GP: Bridgestone race report
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) has won the second round of the FIA Formula One World Championship after using a hard-hard-medium compound Bridgestone Potenza tire strategy in the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Raikkonen was joined on the podium by BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica, who registered his best ever Formula One finish with second place, finishing just under 20 seconds behind Raikkonen. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren Mercedes) finished third whilst Jarno Trulli (Toyota) finished in fourth, holding off a charging fifth-finishing Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) at the end of the race.
Sixth spot went to Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), who set the race's fastest lap with a 1min 35.366secs on lap 55 with Bridgestone's medium compound. Seventh was Mark Webber (Red Bull) who held off eighth-finishing Fernando Alonso (Renault) at the end of the race.
There were a variety of tire strategies used in Malaysia. Every driver that finished the race made two stops for fuel and tires, but the order they used the two compounds differed according to individual competitor performance and preference.
Temperatures soared, but tire performance was strong from both compounds. Despite the threat of seasonal rainfall there was none and Bridgestone's wet and extreme wet tires were unused in this race.
Hamilton remains in the lead of the drivers' championship with 14 points from Raikkonen on 11 whilst McLaren Mercedes leads the constructors' championship on 24 points with BMW Sauber in second place with 19 points.
Formula one will next be in action with the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit on April 4-6 where Bridgestone's medium and soft compound Potenza tires will be used.
Hirohide Hamashima - Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development, said:
"This was another hot race for us and another race where our tire performance was very good. Today was very interesting in terms of tire wear, especially with the front tires. For cars with better balance the tire appearance was favorable, however, for those cars without such agreeable balance there was significant graining. With the new surface this circuit shows the balance of the cars very well. The track is more severe than before which is why we saw different tire strategies compared to last year and this suited our tire compound allocation very well. We saw a range of strategies from different competitors and this made for an interesting strategic race. Congratulations to Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari on their successful strategy. They maximized tire performance today. Also, Robert Kubica and BMW Sauber did very well and got very close to maximizing the potential of our tires." Bridgestone PR