Vettel drove composed race to conquer Sepang circuit
Sebastian Vettel powered to victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, the German registering his second pole-to-flag win in as many races to open his Formula One title defence.
McLaren's Jenson Button drove a composed race to take second place, ahead of a spirited Nick Heidfeld, who capitalised on a brilliant start to round off the podium places in his Renault.
"Fantastic job. In the heat we kept our heads cool. Thank you," Vettel told his Red Bull team over the team radio after winning his fourth race in a row.
"A pleasure every weekend to be with you. I'm loving it."
Image: Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel kisses the winner's trophy after the Malaysian GP
'I think he was the coolest guy here today'
Vettel's team mate Mark Webber did well to claim fourth place following a poor start as both Red Bulls ditched the KERS boost system mid-race after suffering reliability issues.
In a race where nursing the tyres through each stint was key and the threat of rain always an issue, Vettel drove a faultless race from the front and navigated the flurry of pit stops with a minimum of fuss.
"I think he was the coolest guy here today," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.
"His composure in the car, the way he controlled the race, looked after the tyres, did what he needed to when he had to.
"We had the option of doing a three or a four stop and he gave us those options which was a really mature drive by him today."
Image: Sebastian Vettel (left) celebrates with Jenson Button and Nick Heidfeld on the podium
Renaults started well
The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso took the next two places, with Lewis Hamilton claiming seventh in the other McLaren after he and Alonso's challenge was compromised following a collision when they were fighting for third place late on.
The Renaults enjoyed the best of the start, Heidfeld and Russian Vitaly Petrov storming down the outside to get past the Ferraris and Webber and threaten the McLaren's and Red Bulls at the head of the field.
Heidfeld reached second place by the turn one and held off Hamilton until the first change of tyres, when a poor stop dropped him down the order until he battled back late in the race to match Petrov's third place finish in Melbourne.
Image: Renault's Nick Heidfeld holds his trophy in the paddock
Schumacher, Di Resta register points
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Force India's Paul di Resta were the final three points scorers.
Webber had a woeful start and was shuffled down the pack to 10th place as he struggled with the KERS system Red Bull had opted against using in the season-opener in Australia.
Running a four-stop strategy, his best stint was the run to the chequered flag when he closed in on Heidfeld in the final three laps after both had leapfrogged Alonso and Hamilton when they were forced to pit late on.
Double world champion Alonso was battling the Briton for track position on the 45th lap when he damaged his wing after slamming into the back of the McLaren.
Image: Mercedes's Michael Schumacher signs autographs on an Indian flag in the paddock
Hamilton, Alonso penalised
The Spaniard pitted immediately with Hamilton opting to change the tyres of his damaged car when Heidfeld and Webber overtook him with four laps remaining.
Hamilton was demoted one place to eighth at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday after being given a 20-second drive-through penalty by organisers.
The 2008 world champion was given the penalty two hours after he finished the race in seventh when International Automobile Federation (FIA) stewards deemed he had made more than one change of direction while defending his position.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was also given a 20-second penalty by FIA stewards after colliding with Hamilton when attempting to overtake the Briton for third place, but the Spaniard retained his sixth-place finish.
Image: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton (right) leaves the paddock after the Malaysian Grand Prix