By Alex Kapadia
Tyres strategy played a key role in the securing victory at the rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix, with the top two drivers opting for different set-ups.
Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso used three of Pirelli’s four tyres and crossed the finishing line on P Zero White, while Sauber driver Sergio Perez came second after a spectacular performance which saw him finish on the hard tyre.
A rain shower before the start of the race meant that all the drivers, apart from the two HRTs, started on Cinturato Green intermediates.
After just one lap, Perez came into the pits to change to full wets as the rain fell harder – and this call turned out to be the foundation of his result.
His early stop meant that Perez was up to third when the race was suspended on lap eight because of torrential rain. The re-start took place behind the safety car, which obliged all the drivers to start on the full wet tyres, according to the rules.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, commented: “This race had echoes of Canada last year, which was also suspended due to rain.
“Once more, that created an intriguing set of circumstances and some stand-out performances, such as Alonso and Perez at the front, who were the class of the field.
“After the re-start, it was important for the drivers to look after the intermediates – which showed great versatility in very mixed conditions – in order to keep them within their operating temperature range.
“The top two finishers adopted a completely different tyre strategy, with Alonso on the medium tyre
and Perez on the hard tyre in the final stint, which shows how our decision to close up the performance gaps between the compounds has led to even closer racing.
“We’d also like to congratulate Bruno Senna, who scores his best-ever grand prix result in sixth.”