- Sep 4, 2006
It may not have been the most entertaining of races for the fans, but for Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari his dominant Malaysian Grand Prix victory is just what he needed following the disappointment in Melbourne a week ago.
Starting second, the defending champion was happy to shadow pole-sitter and team-mate Felipe Massa until the first round of pit stops and then put in a quick lap to ensure that he exited the pit just ahead. With the race lead in his hands, Raikkonen quickly pulled a four second advantage on Massa who then spun his Ferrari into retirement.
Starting fourth, Robert Kubica made best of Jarno Trulli’s bad start to run a comfortable third for the first half of the race before taking over second position when Massa retired. The BMW Sauber driver took the chequered flag just under 20 seconds behind Raikkonen and a similar margin ahead of third placed finisher Heikki Kovalainen in the McLaren Mercedes.
Kovalainen drove an error free race but to take the chequered flag 40 seconds behind the winner. After their Melbourne performance, the result will be a shock for McLaren who by their own admission have struggled this weekend.
Jarno Trulli started third but he and Nick Heidfeld found themselves squeezed out of the pack through turns one and two at the start of the race. The Toyota driver recovered and took a comfortable fourth in the much-improved TF108, despite late race pressure from Lewis Hamilton.
For Hamilton, the race was always going to be about damage limitation but surprisingly he opted to run the softer type in both the first and second stint. In the third and final sting when it was effectively too late to make any further progress, the Melbourne winner was much faster as he chased Trulli across the line, just 0.7 seconds adrift.
Hamilton also lost ground in his first stop when his front right wheel insert slowed the wheel change by an additional ten seconds, so it was a case of lost opportunity for the championship leader who heads to Bahrain with a three point advantage over his nearest rival.