Updated: 03/24/2013 18:08 | By Agence France-Presse

Malaysia Grand Prix: Live Report

AFP IS NOW CLOSING THIS LIVE REPORT, after an incident- and intrigue-packed Malaysia Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel seize the early momentum in the championship. The German world champion emerged from a tense fight with Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to win the second GP of the season. Lewis Hamilton, of Mercedes, was third.

Malaysia Grand Prix: Live Report

Malaysia Grand Prix: Live Report

0959 GMT: Mark Webber really does not look best pleased. Another is Lewis Hamilton, who says that "I think that Nico should be standing here".

0955 GMT: "It's very hot today. If there's something to discuss we need to do it internally," Vettel says, referring to his ding-dong with team-mate Webber. "I think we both enjoyed that."

0953 GMT: You get the feeling there will be plenty of afters following today's drama. Muted celebrations as the champagne comes out. Noticably little contact between team-mates Vettel and Webber.

0950 GMT: Vettel, Webber and Hamilton take to the podium for the national anthems. Real tension though up there between all three. Webber looks especially annoyed after his duel with team-mate Vettel.

0947 GMT: Vettel stands atop his impressive Red Bull to take the acclaim of the Sepang circuit and the German takes a swig of a water bottle. Lewis Hamilton may have taken third but he does not look too amused and ignores Vettel. Plenty of intrigue around the race today. Webber is another who looks in no mood to talk.

0945 GMT: A frustrated Nico Rosberg was fourth, after being told by his Mercedes team to ease off on the third-placed Hamilton. Felipe Massa was fifth, Romain Grosjean sixth and Kimi Raikkonen seventh.

0943 GMT: Sebastian Vettel wins in Sepang in a Red Bull one-two. Mark Webber is second, and Lewis Hamilton third in a Mercedes. That is a 27th race win for the German.


LAP 55/56: So it is Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel who leads. The gap to second-placed Mark Webber is nearly six seconds, as Vettel scents another victory.

LAP 54/56: Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal, again pleads with Nico Rosberg, in fourth, to ease up on team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Jenson Button meanwhile retires. Miserable day for him.

LAP 54/56: Three laps to go and the message from the Red Bull garage is that Vettel needs to be careful with his deteriorating tyres.

LAP 53/56: Back at the front and Vettel is comfortably holding off fellow Red Bull Mark Webber. The interval is nearly four seconds. Hamilton has the other podium place.

LAP 52/56: So the Red Bull duo have been at each other, and then it is Hamilton-Rosberg. Oh to be a fly on the wall this evening.

LAP 51/56: Fascinating stuff from Mercedes. Hamilton is third and team-mate Nico Rosberg is fourth. They are toe-to-toe, and Rosberg pleads with his team to let him pass Hamilton. Mercedes tell him to stay put.

LAP 50/56: That gap between the front two is steadily growing, now up to 3.6 secs. Third-placed Hamilton is more than 10 seconds off the leading Vettel. 

LAP 49/56: Vettel has a 2.7-sec lead on Webber and the German is homing in on victory in the second race of the season. Last week's winner, Kimi Raikonnen, is sixth.

LAP 47/56: Heads in hands and shakes of the head at Red Bull over that squabble between Vettel and Webber at the front. They are followed by Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa and Grosjean. Alonso, remember, is out.

LAP 46/56: Red Bull give a rare reprimand. "This is silly Seb, come on," team principal Christian Horner tells Vettel. Too late though, as the German seizes the race lead. This is not the last we have heard of this, I suspect.

LAP 45/56: Here we go then, as we approach the business-end of an eventful race in steamy Sepang. Webber and Vettel wheel-to-wheel at the front. Barely a metre between them, and then VETTEL GRABS THE LEAD.

LAP 44/56: "Careful, careful," Red Bull tell the rampaging Vettel, who takes another shot at Webber on the straight, but again the Australian holds. Hamilton in third.

LAP 44/56: Webber follows suit and just about holds the lead from Red Bull team-mate as he rejoins the action. Great battle between Webber and Vettel.

LAP 43/56: Vettel stops for what should be his last trip to the pits. He rejoins in second, the gap now over 20 seconds to leader Mark Webber.

LAP 41/56: Back to the action and it is Red Bull's Mark Webber who leads, 4.6 secs ahead of team-mate and reigning world champ Sebastian Vettel. Lewis Hamilton is third and the fellow Mercedes of Nico Rosberg fourth.

LAP 40/56: AFP reporter Julia Zappei, track-side, points out that there are plenty of empty seats at Sepang. A number of Grand Stand seats remain empty, she says, and there is also ample space on the grassy hill slopes overlooking the circuit, which can accommodate more than 130,000 fans. 

LAP 39/56: Vettel takes on Hamilton to grab second for a Red Bull one-two. More on Button. He is back in the race but way down in 14th place.

LAP 37/56: Twenty laps to go in Sepang. Mark Webber has a three-second lead on Lewis Hamilton. Vettel third.

LAP 35/56: Button finally pits but then comes to a halt in the pit lane. He just sits there as McLaren mechanics leg it down the pit lane to retrieve him. Appears the front right tyre was not on properly.

LAP 34/56: Webber is gaining on leader Button, and overtakes the McLaren to seize back the lead. Hamilton in third now has Button in the crosshairs.

LAP 33/56: All change as a host of drivers pit to change tyres. Bit of a hesitation out the pit costs Vettel a split second, as he rejoins the action in fourth. Jenson Button leads from Mark Webber, the gap less than a second. 

LAP 32/56: Webber pits to hand the lead to Sebastian Vettel. Jenson Button, in his much-maligned McLaren, zips up to second.

LAP 30/56: Webber has a 1.6-sec lead over Vettel, with about half the race gone at Sepang. So it is a Red Bull one-two at the moment, with the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamliton and Nico Rosberg in hot pursuit.

LAP 28/56: Webber still leads here ahead of Vettel. It is Button third and Perez fourth.

LAP 16/56: So it is Mark Webber who leads from Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Ominous clouds gathering though above Sepang.

LAP 14/56: McLaren having a bit of fun with that pit stop by Hamilton. They tweet: "Feel free to pop in and say "hi" any time!"

LAP 12/56: Things settling down now. Mark Webber has a nearly three-second lead over Vettel. Hamilton is third and Rosberg fourth.

LAP 10/56: AFP reporter Julia Zappei says that Alonso looked furious as he skulked his way back to the paddock. A Ferrari spokeswoman tells Zappei that the Spaniard will only speak after the race.

LAP 9/56: Back to the action on the track, where Mark Webber leads from Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Last week's winner Kimi Raikkonen down in 11th.

LAP 9/56: "O K Lewis, stick to plan A," Mercedes tell Hamilton. I don't suppose that means trying to get his former employers to change his tyres. Laughs all round in the pits. His old team just waved him through.

LAP 8/56: Webber does then pit, as does Hamilton. Rosberg stays out to lead. And Hamilton makes a real mess of that -- the former McLaren man tried to pit at his old team before remembering he does not drive for them any more. It's all happening here.

LAP 7/56: "Stay out, stay out." That is the message from his Red Bull team to race leader Mark Webber. Lewis Hamilton is second in the Mercedes and his team-mate Nico Rosberg is third.

LAP 5/56: Race leader Sebastian Vettel pits to go on slick tyres. Likewise Felipe Massa. Mark Webber leads in his Red Bull.

LAP 5/56: Footage shows Alonso trudging back to the garage by foot, helmet still on. Even with his face hidden, the body language says it all.

LAP 3/56: Replays show that Alonso did irreparable damage to his front wing at the start of the race when he clipped the behind of pole sitter Vettel. Race over for Alonso.

LAP 2/56: It is a Red Bull one-two and Fernando Alonso is out of the race. He damaged the front of his car in the early exchanges and down the straight his car gave up the game. His Ferrari is badly damaged but the Spaniard is unhurt.


LAP 1/56: Vettel holds pole position going into the first corner in a pretty clean start. Alonso darted into second, with Webber third.

 GO! GO! GO!

0801 GMT: Here we go then. Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull on pole position, along side the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Behind them are Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. Third row is Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg.

0759 GMT: Zappei says that, with the race just minutes away, the rain has more or less stopped but the track is of course still wet. Most the drivers likely to start on intermediate tyres. And off they go on the formation lap.

0756 GMT: AFP reporter Julia Zappei, from Sepang, says that Malaysian armed forces performed a rousing haka/war dance routine on the grid. The national anthem is done and the teams are putting the final touches just now. Vettel goes from pole.

0752 GMT: Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, says of the weather -- which seems to be drying up: "Definitely gives you more grey hair on days like today." He says that, when it comes to choosing the right tyres, the trouble is that half the circuit is dry, the other half wet.

0749 GMT: Plenty of faces wandering around, as you'd expect. AFP Formula One correspondent Daniel Ortelli says he spotted FIA President Jean Todt and his wife Michelle Yeoh, the Malaysian actress and a former Bond girl. Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak and the country's king also in attendance.

0746 GMT: The brollies are up at the Malaysia GP, with 15 minutes until the start of the race, just the second of the season. Kimi Raikkonen won in Melbourne a week ago. He starts down in 10th, but with the weather as it is now, this race could be anyone's.

0742 GMT: Red Bull's Mark Webber, who starts on the third row, says of the inclement weather: "It will help us in terms of performance."

0739 GMT: Not to be deterred by the rain, Zappei has been meeting fans at Sepang. She says that there are plenty of Ferrari and Fernando Alonso supporters, as well as a few British flags in support of McLaren's Jenson Button.

0735 GMT: The weather is always an issue at Sepang. In 2009, the race was cut short after torrential rain battered the circuit. Let's hope there is no repeat this time.

0731 GMT: First things first, the weather. And it is raining heavily, with just under half hour until the start of the race. AFP reporter Julia Zappei, at Sepang, tells me that the track temperature is a hot 29 degrees C (85F) and air temperature is at 24 degrees.

WELCOME TO AFP'S LIVE REPORT of the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang, where reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel starts on pole position. 

The German snatched pole in the dying seconds of a dramatic qualifying session on Saturday which was thrown into chaos by rain.

In his final run on a drying track, Vettel stormed across the line in a time of 1min 49.674sec, pipping Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa (1:50.587) and Fernando Alonso (1:50.727) with Mercedes pilot Lewis Hamilton fourth.

Red Bull's Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg of Mercedes will start from fifth and sixth. Kimi Raikkonen, last week's winner in the season-opener in Australia, timed seventh but was hit with a three-place grid penalty for impeding Rosberg.

McLaren's Jenson Button will occupy the fourth row alongside Force India's Adrian Sutil, with McLaren's new recruit Sergio Perez -- second for Sauber in last year's rain-interrupted race -- starting ninth and Raikkonen 10th.

Vettel will hope to improve on last week's showing in Australia, when he also started in pole position but dropped back to finish third behind Raikkonen and Alonso.

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