The first race is always highly anticipated as it sets the tone for the rest of the season and everyone is curious about the performance of each team and how they stack up against each other.
1. McLaren domination
The dual-champion British outfit of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren were relentless all weekend — first Hamilton took the pole position and then Button jumped to a good lead at the start before charging to take the chequered flag. Hamilton was in second place until the safety car was called out thanks to Vitaly Petrov and reigning champion Sebastian Vettel stole that position from him. Maybe avoiding the ducked-bill platypus nose design like the rest of the grid was a good decision for McLaren.
2. Red Bull Racing settles for second best
While Button and Hamilton claimed first and third place, the boys from defending champions Red Bull Racing took second and fourth place — Vettel and Mark Webber respectively. Expectations were high for the Bulls who unusually only managed to qualify in the third row (Webber qualified fifth while Vettel qualified sixth). They probably just needed a little more time to warm up.
3. Mercedes GP controversy
Michael Schumacher’s fourth place qualifying result was a nice surprise; then the controversy kicked in when other teams started calling for investigations about the Mercedes W03 cars’ inlets at the top of the rear wing which activate when the DRS system is open. This probably gave the team an edge in qualifying, but clearly they have other problems to deal with as seen during the race. Schumacher was up to P3 at some point before his gearbox failed him. His team-mate Nico Rosberg qualified in seventh but suffered a rear puncture after a racing incident with Sergio Perez on the last lap.
4. Decent return of the Iceman
Kimi Raikkonen was putting in good practice times, but an error on his part during qualifying sent him down to 17th on the starting grid. He managed to fight his way up the order to finish in the points in seventh. It was reported that he is aiming for a podium finish this weekend.
5. Brazilian bull fight
The two Brazilians on the grid, Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna, made contact at Turn 3 late in the race and both were subsequently forced to retire. The Ferrari had a broken suspension, while the Williams had a puncture. Both drivers however, agreed that the collision was a pure racing accident and no one was to be blamed.
6. Ferrari failure
While Massa took himself out of the competition when he collided with fellow countryman Senna, Fernando Alonso’s weekend started off wrongly when he ate grass and spun out into the sand during qualifying. From 12th place on the grid, he managed to fight to fifth place.
7. Promising starts from midfielders
The guys from Lotus Renault, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Force India and Williams teams produced impressive results — while the top four teams took up the first five places, the remaining five places with championship points were grabbed by Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault), Sergio Perez (Sauber), Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) and Paul di Resta (Force India). Romain Grosjean of Lotus Renault qualified in a shocking third place, but lost his front right suspension within the first few corners of the second lap and went crashing out of the race. Pastor Maldonado of Williams was headed for a sixth place finish when he lost control of his car on the last lap of the race.
Now that the 2012 Formula One season has officially begun, everyone is looking forward to seeing how the months ahead would unfold. The Malaysian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, which is known for its extreme temperatures of soaring heat or pouring rain.
Completed in 1999, which was the inaugural year of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang has large run-off areas and features a 15-turn 5.543-kilometre layout. There is a good combination of long high-speed straights and tight twists, and also ample space for overtaking with its wide track.
With the exception of Hamilton, the other five world champions on the grid have won the Malaysian Grand Prix before. Here are the past winners of the Malaysian Grand Prix:
2011 Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
2010 Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
2009 Jenson Button, Brawn
2008 Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2007 Fernando Alonso, McLaren
2006 Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2005 Fernando Alonso, Renault
2004 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2003 Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2002 Ralf Schumacher, Williams
2001 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2000 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
1999 Eddie Irvine, Ferrari
In the last 13 years of this Grand Prix, the driver who scores pole position usually does quite well — seven out of the past 13 race winners won from pole. The worst result was when Massa finished 19th in 2008 after securing pole position.
After winning the last two years, Vettel is eager to make it a hat trick, but the others will be just as hungry too.
*This was first published on Yahoo!