Start, Sepang, 2011

Who was the best driver of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

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Start, Sepang, 2011
Start, Sepang, 2011

Who was the most impressive driver throughout the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

See below for my pick of the best drivers in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Review each driver’s race weekend in detail below and vote for who you thought was the most impressive driver.

For your consideration

Here are some of the drivers who impressed me during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend:

Sebastian Vettel – Steely stuff in qualifying to snatch back pole position from Lewis Hamilton.

Nick Heidfeld – Not knocked off his stride by his troubles in Australia or Renault’s problems in practice.

Kamui Kobayashi – Fought hard and clean as ever, and made a two-stop strategy work.

Paul di Resta – Showing up very well against his more experienced team mate.

Heikki Kovalainen – Clearly getting the most out of the T128 at the moment.

Compare all the drivers

Review what happened to each driver over the race weekend and compare their performances with their team mates using the links below:

Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber
McLaren: Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa
Mercedes: Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher
Renault: Nick Heidfeld and Vitaly Petrov
Williams: Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado
Force India: Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta
Sauber: Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez
Toro Rosso: Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari
Lotus: Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen
HRT: Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi
Virgin: Timo Glock and Jerome d’Ambrosio

Vote for your driver of the weekend

Which driver impressed you the most throughout the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who was the best driver of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?

  • Jerome d'Ambrosio (0%)
  • Timo Glock (0%)
  • Vitantonio Liuzzi (0%)
  • Narain Karthikeyan (0%)
  • Jarno Trulli (0%)
  • Heikki Kovalainen (3%)
  • Jaime Alguersuari (0%)
  • Sebastien Buemi (0%)
  • Sergio Perez (0%)
  • Kamui Kobayashi (9%)
  • Paul di Resta (4%)
  • Adrian Sutil (0%)
  • Pastor Maldonado (0%)
  • Rubens Barrichello (0%)
  • Vitaly Petrov (1%)
  • Nick Heidfeld (38%)
  • Nico Rosberg (0%)
  • Michael Schumacher (0%)
  • Felipe Massa (1%)
  • Fernando Alonso (2%)
  • Jenson Button (12%)
  • Lewis Hamilton (3%)
  • Mark Webber (10%)
  • Sebastian Vettel (16%)

Total Voters: 510

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Australian Grand Prix result

Sergio Perez was voted the best driver of the Australian Grand Prix weekend:

1. Sergio Perez – 36%
2. Vitaly Petrov – 32%
3. Sebastian Vettel – 12%

Rate the Race: Malaysian Grand Prix

Don’t forget to cast your vote in the ‘rate the race’ poll as well:

2011 Malaysian Grand Prix

Browse all 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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146 comments on “Who was the best driver of the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend?”

  1. Heidfeld, the top step beckons!

    1. Agreed.

    2. I really hope so.

    3. Unfortunately, only in dream land.

    4. Why? I really do not think he is anything special. He has not really outperformed Petrov, which shows that he is not really that quick…and he wasn’t when he was racing Kubica…I think good but rather mediocre is what he deserves. Not quick nick…

      1. I agree, he is a decent driver, but I would have loved to have seen what Kubica could do in this car.

      2. Remember Petrov could beat Kubica when he was on form, he’s quick albeit inconsistent

      3. Well, in this race he clearly did out perform Petrov. I think time will tell, but to be honest. Even if you don’t like him, consider maybe the top step beckons because it’s alluded him for so long?

        1. in retrospect, I agree he probably deserves a win having come so close in many occasions – I dont dislike him – I think he is good, but not as good as Kubica, while many people think he is. I am also not determined to stick to this opinion of him, if people can show me why they rate him really highly, I could try also!

      4. Petrov couldn’t keep the car on track enough to bring it home. If you can’t finish, you might as well not even of shown up. Heidfeld beat Petrov by a mile (or several as the case may be). Period.

      5. Well actually he has outperformed Petrov apart from when half the side of the car was missing.

    5. Heidfeld deserves it. Its good to have him racing the front runners like he did in 2007 and 2008.

    6. UKfanatic (@)
      12th April 2011, 1:38

      heidfelf despite the bad pit stop and the friday problems showing that despite the break hes still on top of his game

      1. People just dont like Vettel around here… :)

        1. the sri lankan
          12th April 2011, 5:25

          i dont like him at all…wanna see a new champ this year

        2. Nigelstash (@)
          12th April 2011, 10:41

          Don’t mind Vettel as a person – he’s living the dream and who can blame him. What I dislike is a driver with limited ability winning everything. The Red Bull is an amazing car, but imho there are several drivers who could make it go quicker and who are more complete drivers. Webber is a good guy but in terms of talent he is about on a par with Heidfeld. Vettel is a little better but nowhere near Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Button. When he proves he is by battling through the field and managing to overtake – or even by defending fairly! – then I will like him.

          1. To even come into that situation, he would have to screw up either the qualyfing or the start. Which he didn’t in 2011. So far you can’t do better.
            And when he was behind someone this season, he managed to get past quickly. Massa was nothing more but mince meat.

          2. +1 Spot On Most of the field could win races in the RB7 and Hamilton, Alonso, Kubica, Button could make a lot easier job of it in that car

          3. @ Nigelstash-

            Kubica didn’t prove himself to be much better than Heidfeld, so he hasn’t proven himself as a driver as good as Alonso or Hamilton in my eyes.

            Vettel had numerous battles through the field in the Toro Rosso, and is simply an excellent qualifier, which is why he doesn’t often need to battle through the field in the Red Bull. I only rate Alonso and Hamilton slightly ahead of him.

          4. To even come into that situation, he would have to screw up either the qualyfing or the start. Which he didn’t in 2011. So far you can’t do better.
            And when he was behind someone this season, he managed to get past quickly. Massa was nothing more but mince meat.

            Spot on dennis. I can’t believe people are criticising him for being too good this year so far.

        3. Vettel is hugely arrogant…as is hamilton, alonso, schumacher…and that is something which unfortunately you have to expect from young sports starts these days, but its a bit irritating. I would say most people around here have plently of respect for vettel’s abilities as a driver, which is ultimately what matters.

          The ares that actually irritates me about him however is his radio messages. Cyring in Abu Dhabi 2010. Sorry but I thought that sounded ridiculous – think back to Button’s ‘we are the champions’ and you know what you’d rahter hear broadcast around the world! Then this season, his radio messages have been so arrogant, as though he runs the team, he really is positioning himself to be no.1. He deserves huge respect for his driving, but he easily irritates me. Oh and I should add that I do not pretend to know anything about his personality other than through clips from the races and media, and I am sure that it is a different person off the track or whatever – I do not assume that I know anything about him but what little I see can irritate. then again, I love watching him in Q3 when you know he is going to bring some insane pace. Then I love him, because it is special to see.

          1. An arrogant F1 driver, you say?

            Whatever will be next? Fluffy sheep?

          2. actually irritates me about him however is his radio messages.

            well you can mute your T.V you dont wanna hear his radio messages..!! lol

          3. Indeed, I just want to punch him when he says time after time “that’s what i’m talkin about” when he wins yet another
            race from pole in his flexi-bull.

            I’d love to see him handle Hamilton in equal machinery. He’d crying for a different reason then!!

          4. 1) In quali, Mclaren is as faster as RB (at least the last Saturday). Vettel was the difference.

            2) You cannot blame him for winning from P1. Senna won 29 times starting from Pole.

            I do think most here just want to see Hamilton/Button doing the same…
            Vettel is fantastic and I wonder how happy Newey is for finally having someone to give his cars what they deserve. :) Except for Mika (98/99).

          5. Vettel is hugely arrogant…as is hamilton, alonso, schumacher…and that is something which unfortunately you have to expect from young sports starts these days, but its a bit irritating.

            Agree, but that is not surprise is has always been the case with the top professional sportsmen in all sports (not just the young), unfortunately is one of the traits that gets them to the top in the first place.

    7. I know that there is a habit in these to go for a guy who didn’t win the race but performed well, but in both races so far this year Vettel has really been head and shoulders above everybody else.

      It is easy to overlook because we expect him and RB to qualify first and to win, but remember that he has had car problems and still managed to coast home.

      He gets my vote on both races, and I am by no means a fan of the German

      1. Whilst I agree with your reasoning nik, unless Vettel does something out of the ordinary on route to victory I have a hard time giving him the accolade (anything other than a win for Vettel would be sub par at the moment).

    8. He really shows he is a Quality driver. And a nice bloke. Look at this open letter to Kubica!

      1. Crikey, you have an avatar!

  2. My vote goes to Nick the Quick. he had some rust after a year away from F1 – and in Melbourne he was obscured by Petrov – but yesterday he showed he’s one of the best replacements for Kubica. Maybe the Pole’d have done something better, but Renault seem in a pretty good shape right now.

    1. How can you base all that on one race? as you say yourself, in melbourne he was eclipsed by petrov…and we know that petrov really is not very fast at all.

      1. Heidfeld was more unlucky than anything in Melbourne. Missed Q2 thanks to a very slow Hispania and then carried quite substantial sidepod damage from the first lap in Melbourne after contact with Alguersuari (I think).

    2. UKfanatic (@)
      12th April 2011, 1:43

      he was bad on qually thats a fact but in the race it wasnt his fault

  3. I voted for Webber, started without Kers lost 6 positions, and fought his way back to 4.

    1. Same here! Dont forget his superb pass round the outside of a KERS’d up Massa. Surprised he didnt get a mention in the article.

      1. There was a rather large tyre difference there…

        1. The way he played with the throttle to get an edge on Massa was pure driving. Epic. Can’t wait for this weekend

    2. It wasn’t the lack of KERS that made his start bad. It was just a bad start, made worse by the lack of KERS. A solid drive back, but the start was very poor.

      1. I agree with this.

      2. Not true. It was a) a lack of KERS and b) a clutch problem (check the BBC website for confirmation on that). More than a solid drive back, a stellar drive back

        1. haha clutch problem as in he did not release the clutch in the right way! he had a bad start, which he admitted himself. The lack of kers really then made it far worse over the next lap or two…

      3. He had a clutch problem off the in the parade lap and they couldn’t fix it before the start proper so it just repeated and he couldn’t get away properly.

    3. Mark Hitchcock
      11th April 2011, 20:07

      Completely agree.

    4. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      11th April 2011, 20:12

      As did I, very impressive drive, I think he could well have been challenging at least Button for 2nd place if he hadn’t had the KERS failure.

      1. Whilst I think Webber was the best driver on Sunday (only just edges out Heidfeld), I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to vote for Nick. I am not a fan, but I do hope he wins a race this year. I also hope Petrov wins a race. That would be quite amusing.

        1. Whilst I think Webber was the best driver on Sunday, I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to vote for Nick.

          That right there is why these polls hold no weight. You admit Webber was the best driver but still don’t vote for him. I think the name of these polls should be changed to “Who is the driver you like better”

          I voted for Webber, yes he got a bad start but with KERS I think he would have only dropped 1 or 2 spots. To fight back through the field without KERS was a superb effort. He showed raw pace and never gave up, almost grabbing a podium haveing done 1 more stop than most other contenders.

          1. I think the name of these polls should be changed to “Who is the driver you like better”

            That’s quite a silly statement to succeed my comment in which I stated I was not actually a fan of Heidfeld… :P But Webber wasn’t the best of the weekend. He was the best on Sunday. Heidfeld was the best of the weekend – so I voted for him.

          2. I think the name of these polls should be changed to “Who is the driver you like better”

            So where have all the Perez and Petrov fans gone, then?

      1. Agreed Keith. Sorry Macca, but your argument is flawed.

  4. Kobayashi for sure. When voting for these things many just look at the front runners, but again a little further to the back Kamui showed great racecraft – what a battle with Webber! – had great pace overall AND made a two stopper work for him. Great quali getting into q3 as well.

    1. Many look at the front runners because there is more drama there, whilst Kobayashi story is a bit different, he doesn’t feel pressured by his teammate and nor he’s expected to bring podiums or wins just a few points there and Sauber will be happy. But for sure he deserves, very good action from him again, he maybe deserves a place at Ferrari more than Massa does.

    2. Agreed! probably one of the most entertaining drivers to watch on track. knows how to pass. Also knows when to let the other guy through. Can’t wait to see how he does at Suzuka this year.

    3. Agreed, good drive along with some excellent fights, especially his first stint duel with Webber was very impressive. Sauber have the ugliest Livery on the grid, but he makes the car great to look at.

      Good to see DiResta getting a mention too, too bad he didn’t end up in the points. Beating Sutil right away, driving a very solid race.

      1. McLaren Fan 17
        12th April 2011, 9:49

        Di Resta was in the points – he finished 10th.

  5. he’s the only man that brought some fun in the race, great overtaking. hamilton screwed him up by slowing down, except that great race

  6. lol, forgot the name ALONSOOOO :)

    1. Yeah, crashing into Hamilton is not as easy as he made it look!

      1. Without the crash I guess I would have voted for Alonso, he clearly got more out of the car than was in it. But then he blew it, which is okay, he is only human after all, but the best driver must be someone who didn’t crash.

        1. Gotta agree with you. Unfortunately, it was quite a costly driver error, and a crap way to ruin a good run for 2nd place.

    2. Laranja Mecanica
      12th April 2011, 22:52

      Yeah, well, I would have voted for Alonso for anything that came between his awful start and the crash (he should have expected the weaving, the brake-testing and all-out unsportmanslike attitude from LH anyway).Too bad we were deprived of a clean, non-DRS overtaking, something to replay millions of times over, like Brazil 2007.

      Anyway, counting everything, FA was pretty good but not the best out there in Sepang.

  7. Oh performance at Melbourne, it stang
    And the haters all came out and sang,
    They thought he was finished,
    His quickness diminished,
    But he came back for third in Sepang.

    1. Haha awesome! Have you been reading the F1 poetry thread in the forum by any chance?

      1. Thanks :) I read some of that thread a while ago but only just had a worthwhile flash of inspiration. Nick always makes me feel rhymey.

        1. Haha, nice piece of poetry mate :)

    2. “Yield, Yield” cried Lewis,
      But Nick would not yield.
      And With talent inspired,
      and courage revealed,

      Tho his pit stop was jive,
      And he fell back to five,
      In that sleek black Renault,
      Quick Nick was not slow.

      He came back for a third thru the field.

    3. COTD!

  8. Younger Hamii(Formerly Younger Hamilton)
    11th April 2011, 18:45

    No One

  9. I’ll go with Heidfeld, he combined a quick and tidy race with some punchy overtaking at the start and solid defense vs. Hamilton and Webber.

  10. I was tempted to vote for Alonso’s “Don’t worry, I’m pushing…” comment, which made me chuckle. However, for my serious vote it was Webber! He made a great comeback drive, and it reminded me of a thought common in football – good teams dont always win 7-0, they win when they shouldnt. Webber clawed back a lot of points after that disastrous first lap, a few more laps and he may have been third from 10th!

    1. That was an awesome comment! I’m not an Alonso fan tbh, but he was immensely cool this weekend :)

  11. I voted for QUICK NICK, for proving all those who were criticizing him hat they were wrong and he still has got what it takes.

  12. Heidfeld for me as well. The way he kept the Renault under control with Hamilton and later on Webber behind him was wonderful to watch.

    Allthough it’s a tough one yet again with the flawless weekend that Vettel put together.

  13. Sebastian Vettel again the driver of the weekend. He did well to pinch pole by a tenth and controlled the race. Bit pee’d off about his start though.

    Lewis Hamilton did a terrible job when he started struggling with his tyres and I’m certain he could have done more to eak out the last 3 laps. Even if he was 5 seconds slower per lap he would have lost less time than pitting.

    Special Mention to Nick Heidfield and Paul Di Resta who also had good races.

  14. I voted for quik Nick. even though I like Alonso’s radio “I’m pushin, I’m pushing, don’t worry” very much. If he had not crashed with Hamilton, I would have chosen him.

  15. Tempting to vote for Kobayashi because he was fighting throughout the race with someone. Webber, Schumacher, Petrov, he doesn’t care.

    But voted for Heidfeld. His car is probably a tad slower than McLaren and Ferrari (and of course the Red Bull), so despite the pressure on him to lead the team and his failure to do so in Australia, he stil beat 4 cars faster than him. 3 of which started ahead of him on the grid.

  16. Nick Heidfeld, everyone criticized him after Australia, but he showed his real pace in Malaysia.

    offtopic : the following website claims that Bahrain will host the final round instead of Brazil.

    1. I just noticed this after I posted. Bahrain shouldn’t be permitted to host anything until they sort their act out.

    2. My Arabic is a little rusty and ever since Trulli’s collumn got lost in translation last week, I don’t trust GoogleTranslate enough to know for sure what’s written…

  17. This is such a no brainer, of course it was Vettel.

  18. Heidfeld. Ausgezeichnet.

    Epic start. Then he had Hamilton riding on his back in the first stint but kept totally cool. Then even after getting jumped by McLaren, he kept at it. In the end, he had again to deal with massive pressure for a superior car and was perfect. That was a brilliant drive. Webber is a close second, but his come back drive was partially necessitated by his own terrible start. KERS doesn’t even work until third gear, by which point cars were already whipping by him.

  19. I’m very surprised by Kamui, because he just doesn’t seem to be the typical japanese driver.

    He’s aggressive, yes, but he’s hell clean. He seems calmed down, and relaxed, getting the most out of the car, and battling a lot cleanly.

    My vote goes to KK :)

    1. Florida Mike
      11th April 2011, 19:50

      I agree. He would have been one of the last drivers I would have given a chance to score points on two stops. Maybe the Sauber is tire-friendly, but I think we saw a new, more mature Kobayashi.

      1. I think we’ve been seeing that ever since half way through last season, since then he’s been consistently finishing in the points. Of course, races like Valencia and Suzuka stand out for him being a total badass, but he’s been good over a race distance for a while.

  20. I went for Vettel for another class drive.

    Honorable mentions to Button for a solid performance, getting himself ahead of Hamilton. Also Heidfeld for a superb bounce back from Albert Park, and Kobayashi for lots of good battling and a good finish.

  21. Felipe Massa, because he’s back!

    1. Yeah, if Alonso keeps crashing into cars a couple of positions in front of Massa, he’ll finish on top no problem. :P

      1. Alonso wouldn’t need to crash into anyone if the pit crew would just do their job. :D

  22. Went with Heidfeld, but Webber was up there. And Vettel, i don’t think RBR have any advantage on KERS friendly tracks, I just don’t think either McLaren driver is fast enough to catch the boy at the moment

  23. Hard one.
    Kobayashi provided the most entertainment, Heidfeld got to the podium with the third or fourth car, Webber fought back – without KERS, Button saved his tyres and made sure he was there at the end, DiResta showed his maturity as a rookie, Alonso entertained and looked like he was going to get the Ferrari where it didn’t belong, Massa beat Alonso…

    But it has to be Vettel:
    – in only 12 laps he put the car on pole (where some others drove 17+)
    – he passed Massa on track
    – and drove flawlessly to first

  24. Any of the drivers you mentioned Keith would be a good choice but I chose Heidfeld. He had an awful time in Aus and for most of the Malaysia weekend but more than delivered in qualifying and practice plus there was the added bonus of him delivering the podium right after DC said he’d soon be under rpessure if he didn’t up his game :P

    For one off performances I was impressed with Button’s, Schumacher’s and Massa’s Sunday performance and Alonso’s qualifying.

  25. Strange to vote on Renault driver again. Even stranger it’s still not Kubica. However, Heidfeld deserved it. Brilliant drive.

  26. TheScuderia (@)
    11th April 2011, 20:22

    This was a tough choice. But I decided to go with Heidfeld over Kobayashi as my driver of the race.

  27. Mark Webber. Amazing job to finish 4th despite KERS problems and being as low as 15th in the race.

    His move on Massa was also sweet.

    1. I thought the lowest he was was tenth?

      1. boris the one-eyed gerbil
        11th April 2011, 23:01

        Webber was the first to make an unforced pitstop (from about 10th) so he dropped well back but then set a series of fast laps to come back into it, although he still had to make up enough time to overcome the extra stop.

        1. It wasn’t unforced, it was planned. Remember the radio-call say ‘Plan A’

          1. boris the one-eyed gerbil
            13th April 2011, 12:23

            “unforced” meaning he wasn’t forced to pit – you can substitute “planned” if you really want to (they might even mean the same thing here!)

  28. I would definitely not say Webber was the driver of the day. He’s in the quickest car out there, and despite his poor start, he only managed 4th. The fact is that he is terrible on his tyres, and without the added 4th stop he would have done better.
    He will not have a decent race, or even a win until he is able to be decent enough on his tyres to stop at least the same number of times as everyone else.

    That’s why I think Jenson gets it. He did a great job of getting to second. He knew what was wrong with his car at the start and fixed it during the race to secure himself valuable points.

    Obviously Heidfeld should get a mention too, he drove a great race. And of course Kobayashi for his entertaining racing. But also to Sauber for designing a car that is much better on its tyres than any other team out there.

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      11th April 2011, 21:33

      Yet, all the drivers ahead of him had a 3 stop strategy and they all had working KERS off the line, so I think that is why he deserves driver of the day

    2. His tyre wear would be slightly higher than those around him because he spent most of the afternoon up the rear end of a leading car. If you know you’re on a 4 stop strategy, there’s no need to be AS cautious with wear.

  29. Heidfeld for me. Great start and held it together when it mattered.

  30. I voted for Kovalainen. I think he deserves it for finishing less then a second behind a midfield car that didnt have an obvious issue which would have been impossible last year and no one would have predicted pre race. If the race was a lap longer who knows, he may have finished in front of an established car for the first time.

    Also just because the drivers in the slow cars don’t get much coverage or score points doesnt mean the drivers dont deserve credit for a good drive.

    I did connsider Button and Webber and Kobiashi but they werent really stand out performances this week i think.