By Alan Davies, Formula One correspondent
Sunday, March 25, 2012
FORMULA 1 racer Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium in today’s thrilling, rain-hit 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire started the second F1 race of the season from pole position but could only finish third in Sepang – just as he did in Australia last Sunday.
Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag for Ferrari following an eventful race delayed by a stoppage for rain.
Rising Sauber star Sergio Perez was second on a wet track, with Hamilton third ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen.
The McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “Well done Lewis. Not exactly the result you wanted, but a podium none the less. Another podium. Well done.”
Stevenage-born Hamilton, 27, was leading after eight completed laps when the grand prix was halted due to the weather.
After heavy rain forced the race to be red-flagged, it was eventually restarted more than 40 minutes later, with both McLaren drivers losing places in an action-packed and chaotic few laps.
Button, running second behind race leader Hamilton, ducked into the pits at the first opportunity after the safety car finally came in.
However, Hamilton had a disastrous second stop for intermediate tyres a lap later, losing time and he came out behind Button.
Hamilton regained that place when Button clipped the HRT car of Narain Karthikeyan from behind and the 2009 world champion had to enter the pits again for another set for tyres and for a new front wing of his McLaren.
With 17 laps gone, Fernando Alonso surprisingly found himself in the lead for Ferrari ahead of the Sauber of Sergio Perez, with pole-sitter Hamilton now running third.
They were still in that order after 39 laps, with Hamilton 12 seconds behind Perez, the flying Mexican clocking a series of fastest laps to cut Alonso’s lead at the front to less than two seconds.
With the track drying and drivers waiting to switch to slicks, the threat of further rain came on the horizon. However, it never materialised.
Alonso extended his lead again at the next round of pitstops for primes, with Perez and Hamilton second and third respectively.
However, the McLaren driver now had the Red Bull duo of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber on his tail.
Vettel suffered a rear puncture, handing Hamilton some breathing space in third place.
Alonso held off Perez’s late challenge to take the chequered flag, with Hamilton claiming the final step on the podium following an exciting and frantic grand prix.
Button crossed the line a disappointing 14th.
“That was a horrendous day at the office. Sorry guys. I just didn’t slow the car down enough with Karthikeyan. A terrible day,” said Button over the team radio.