The Ferrari driver made no mistakes in difficult conditions as second place fell to Perez in a Sauber-Ferrari.
Fernando Alonso, driving an uncompetitive Ferrari F2012, enjoyed a perfect weekend to win the Malaysian GP, his first win of the 2012 F1 campaign and taking the Drivers' Championship lead with 35 points to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with 30 points. Last week's winner, Jenson Button, finished in 14th place and out of the points. The same fate also struck double world champion, Sebastian Vettel, who finished 11th.
However, the race's star was Mexico's Sergio Perez in a Sauber-Ferrari, who during the final stages of the race, hunted down Alonso and was on course to overtake the Ferrari driver and earn his first F1 career win. Sadly, he committed a mistake by braking too late into a sharp right hand turn and veered off the track. He still managed to regain control of his car and bring it back on the asphalt. In the process he lost five precious seconds to Alonso and was never again in a position to challenge for victory. The race was heavily affected by rain that began to fall just before the start and became heavier during the first few laps.
On lap six a safety car was deployed and on lap nine the race was stopped by a red flag for 51 minutes. When it was resumed, with all of the cars on wet tires, Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Button were leading only to lose it. Hamilton went through a long pit stop for intermediate tires and Button as well due to an unnecessary clash with the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan for which he later took the blame. That left Perez and Alonso in the lead, after Alonso completed a brilliant overtaking maneuver over Red Bull's Mark Webber, who once again outpaced his more decorated teammate, Vettel.
On a slowly drying track, Alonso took the lead when Perez stopped for intermediate tires and began to increase his lead, up to seven seconds, as Perez pulled away from Hamilton in third place. As the track was drying out Perez became faster and closed down the gap to Alonso, who got some breathing space once again when he pitted for slicks on lap 40, a lap earlier than Perez. Perez then closed the gap once again to less than a second before he heard in his radio a team instruction not to jeopardize second place (presumably by fighting for the lead).
Whether it was a favor to Ferrari, who supplies Sauber engines, or just a logical request from a team pressed hard over finances, is a matter for debate. However, when on the 49th lap, he committed his only mistake of the weekend by relieving the pressure off Alonso as the race reached its unpredictable conclusion. Hamilton finished in third place and Mark Webber in fourth in front of Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus and the race's fastest lap. Sixth place went to Bruno Senna after a brilliant 24th and last place on lap one, following a spin during the first lap, 23rd and last on lap 13 and from then on a steady ascension with a few overtaking maneuvers.
He ended up bringing home eight points, more than Williams' total points haul last year. Under the race's circumstances, Schumacher was a good bet for a victory, but due to his first lap altercation with Romain Grosjean in a Lotus, it wasn't meant to be. Grosjean, who for a second week in a row, failed to convert a brilliant qualifying into a positive race result and retired after just three laps. Schumacher finished 10th, earning Mercedes Benz their first point of the season, but only after Maldonado's Williams-Renault car suffered an engine problem.