Vettel, who used KERS to press home an advantage during qualifying (eventually giving the German pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton), was utterly dominant in Malaysia, despite the entire field suffering tyre wear issues due to new supplier Pirelli.
The Sepang circuit in Malaysia is traditionally shrouded in an air of unpredictability due to its tropical location, making weather predictions and tyre choice exceedingly difficult. Despite this, Vettel was hardly troubled and won the GP 3.2 sec ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button - despite the Red Bull driver being advised by his race engineer not to use KERS anymore by lap 29 of the 56 lap race.
A superb drive by Robert Kubica’s replacement for the 2011 season, Nick Heidfeld, secured the last podium position for Renault.
Vettel's team mate Mark Webber, who was initially the fastest driver at Sepang during Friday’s practice sessions, finished fourth, ahead of the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. The other McLaren, piloted by Lewis Hamilton, finished a disappointing seventh, after sharing the front of the grid with Vettel at the start.
The top ten positions were filled-out from eight to tenth place by Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, former multiple world champion Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and rookie Paul di Resta (Force India) – the young British driver scoring his first F1 points in only his second start.
With his second win in as many races, Vettel now leads the championship with 50 points, well clear of Button (26 points) and Hamilton (24 points). Red Bull leads the team standing with 72 points, 22 clear of McLaren.
Teams will now travel north, to Shanghai, for the Chinese GP to be held 17 April.
Results from the Malaysian Formula One GP raced over 56 laps at Sepang International Circuit on Sunday (corrected for Hamilton place demotion):
Constructors’ points standings