Sebastian Vettel has done it again, this time at the Malaysian GP. Vettel mirrored his result in Melbourne a fortnight ago as he was the first driver to cross the finish line after starting from pole position. The reigning World Champion from Red Bull finished the 56-lap, all-dry race ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button.

Very good news for the Proton-backed Lotus Renault team as Nick Heidfeld proved his skeptics wrong after finishing the race in third despite struggling with worn tyres, giving the team its second consecutive podium finish! The German was receiving some tough competition from Mark Webber at the dying minutes of the race. Webber had to settle for fourth. Felipe Massa was fifth for Ferrari while his team mate Fernando Alonso was right behind him.

Lewis Hamilton who could have finished in the podium had to pit at the last minute and managed only seventh. Hamilton pitted after sustaining damage possibly due to an on-track squabble with Fernando Alonso. Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was eight ahead of Michael Schumacher who collects Mercedes GP Petronas’ first points of the season. Force India did reasonably well today with Paul di Resta’s tenth place finish.

Schumacher’s team mate, Nico Rosberg only managed 12th today. Heikki Kovalainen was the only representative from Malaysia’s Team Lotus who finished the race. The former McLaren driver managed 15th ahead of the final driver who finished the race, Virgin’s Timo Glock. A total of eight drivers failed to finish today, due to numerous reasons. Vitaly Petrov’s reason for DNF was rather interesting. The Russian’s black and gold racer went airborne after going off-track with four laps remaining and landed aggressively causing the steering column to become lose.

It was an interesting race overall. It started off well with both the Lotus Renault drivers climbing up the field as Vettel kept his lead while Webber suffered from a bad start. As the dust settled, it was Heidfeld who was behind Vettel, Hamilton in third followed by Button, Petrov, Massa, Alonso, Schumacher, Kobayashi and Webber in the top ten. Lap 11 saw Webber making the first scheduled pit stop as Button, Massa and Alonso were battling for fourth place.

At the same time, Hamilton was behind Heidfeld’s Renault-powered car. Spots of rain were seen at certain sections of the track on Lap 13 but that didn’t prompt drivers to switch to wet weather tyres. Minutes later, the alarm for rain went away giving way to an all-dry race till the end. At about Lap 22, Massa made a move on Webber for 6th place as Schumacher and Kobayashi were battling for 10th place. At the same time Alonso complained over radio about a defective DRS or Drag Reduction System. By Lap 24, Vettel was still leading, this time ahead of Hamilton and Alonso.

Heidfeld was running fourth in front of Massa. Four laps later, Kobayashi managed to take on Schumacher as the German’s Pirellis were getting worn. On Lap 44, Alonso was battling with Hamilton for the third spot. Alonso was faster than Hamilton who was in front and was right behind the Brit despite making do with a faulty DRS. Just two laps later, Alonso hit Hamilton and suffered from a damaged front wing while trying to make a move, forcing him to make a pit stop which pretty much ended his contention for the final podium position.

On Lap 50 there was also an interesting battle between Webber and Massa for fifth place and the former came out in front at the end. Hamilton then had to make a last minute stop after he started to drop down the grid. That gave way to Heidfeld to clinch third but with three laps remaining, the German was suffering with severely worn tyres and that allowed Webber to close in. Nevertheless Heidfeld managed to keep his cool and his track position till the end of the race. That was an interesting bit of the race.

In the Drivers’ Championship, Vettel leads with 50 points ahead of Button who has 25 points. Hamilton is behind with 24, followed by Webber with 22 and Alonso with 20. Red Bull also leads in the Constructors’ Championship with 72 points followed by McLaren with 50 points. Ferrari has 36 in third closely followed by Lotus Renault with 30. Formula 1 now heads north for this weekend’s Chinese GP.

UPDATE: Both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton received 20-second time penalties for their actions during an on-track battle which forced Alonso to pit and change his front wing. Hamilton was penalised for making more than one directional change while defending his position against Alonso.

Alonso on the other hand was penalised for causing a collision with his former McLaren team mate. As a result of the penalties, Hamilton drops from seventh to eight, giving seventh place to Kamui Kobayashi. Alonso, thanks to his healthy gap from Hamilton’s original position, remains in sixth.