After starting the season off on pole position in Australia but having to retire early on, Hamilton was aiming to convert pole to a win in todays Malaysian Grand Prix.
As the red lights went out the cars made the run down to turn one and it appeared Rosberg had edged ahead of Hamilton, like in Australia. But as the lap went on Hamilton regained first place, which he would maintain throughout the race, only losing it to pit stops.
In another great start to a Formula One Grand Prix, Rosberg had a phenomenal launch to get the jump on fellow German, Sebastian Vettel. As Vettel crabbed across the track in a bid to block Rosberg getting past, he reduced the space for Rosberg to centimetres more than his car’s width. Pressing him right up against the pit wall. Elsewhere on the grid, it appeared Ricciardo had bogged down but as they entered the turn one-two complex the space opened up for him and he was able to get ahead of Red Bull team-mate Vettel and almost having a chance to overtake Rosberg as he fought for grip.
As the first lap continued the action didn’t stop. With drivers jostling for positions, there was the inevitable contact made. As Bianchi and Maldonado fought for positions on the exit of turn four they came together and span. Bianchi was left with a puncture and after a FIA investigation, the first 5 second stop-go penalty.
This was not the only first lap incident as Raikkonen was involved in a turn two incident with Magnussen, who made minimal contact with the Ferrari but it was enough to give Raikkonen a puncture. This marked the end of Raikonnen’s challenge in the race as he was already lapped by the time he made it back to the pits.
Throughout the race each team began to battle each other but in some circumstances the battling was inside the team.
Down at Williams the two drivers fought hammer and tong for the upper-hand. Not to the amusement of Massa. Early on in the race Bottas was claiming he had the speed over his team-mate, and as he attempted to pass Massa, they made contact. This brought out team orders from Williams as they asked Bottas to hold position until Massa was able to get past Magnussen, despite Bottas feeling he could get past both. But this feud was far from over. As the race approached full-time Bottas was once again on the tail of his team-mate. The only difference being this time he had the backing of the team who requested Massa allows Bottas through, informing him that Bottas was “quicker than you”.
After years of being second fiddle at Ferrari, team orders coming in his 2nd race for Williams must have been Massa worse nightmare.
Clearly not happy with being asked to give way for his team-mate. Massa refused to simply give up the position and maintained his position. At the time of the order it wasn’t as if Bottas was directly behind Massa, but actually over a second back. With a defiant Massa on their hands, pushing to hold on to 7th place, Williams caved and asked both drivers to hold position for the finish.
Elsewhere down the paddock each team had a story to tell.
Down at Red Bull, Vettel was driving his race for his first podium finish of the season after having to retire in Australia. In a mostly un-eventful drive for the German he finished 7.2 seconds behind Rosberg, to finish in 3rd.
On the other side of the garage it was a completely different story.
After the Australian GP had ended, Ricciardo was disqualified from the results for a fuel flow infringement, and the fuel flow sensor raised its head again in this race. Unlike in Australia, where the sensor was giving Red Bull mixed readings. This time out, in Malaysia, the sensor completely failed and Red Bull opted to use the FIA’s method of fuel measuring.
Unfortunately for Ricciardo, this was still not the end of his turmoil. Come the second round of pit stops, Ricciardo left the pits before his front left tyre was secure. Leaving him waiting in the pit lane for his team to rush him back to the pox. When leaving his pit box it was clear to see on the TV that the front left wheel gun was still in but the sensor that indicates the driver can leave their box had gone on, so on Ricciardo went. In addition, the FIA originally gave Ricciardo a 10 second stop-go penalty but have now issued Ricciardo with a 10 place grid penalty for the Bahrain GP after his unsafe release.
Again, unfortunately this still was not the end of Ricciardo’s woes. When leaving the pits (with the tyre loose) there is the possibility that his front wing made contact with the front wing jack and caused it to loosen. Before later on completely detaching on the front right pillar.
Eventually Red Bull called time on Ricciardo’s day to forget with three laps to go and retired the car.
It was a reasonably quiet race for both Mercedes drivers. Lewis never looked in any doubt about not winning this race providing the car was reliable and could finish the race. He was able to maintain the early stages well and keep a good distance between his team-mate and himself. As the race progressed he was able to gain more momentum and increase his lead more and more, before finishing the race 17.3 seconds ahead of his team-mate.
For Alonso, again it was a quiet race in most parts. Hoping to get another good point scoring finish, Alonso ended the race getting back-to-back fourth place finishes. But was almost in a world of his own, with 11.4 seconds gap to Vettel (3rd) and a 11.2 second gap to Hulkenberg (5th)
After his lap one incident with Magnussen, the race was out of Raikkonen’s hands and all he could do was try to get some of the lower point scoring places. But come the chequered flag, he had to deal with finishing in 12th behind former team-mate Grosjean in the Lotus.
As the cars prepared to go out on their formation lap it looked like it was going to be a race to forget for Force India as Sergio Perez was forced to retire from the race before it had even started. The retirement was caused by an engine failure. As for Hulkenberg, he out-drove the car and brought it home in 5th. Once again showing why he should stop being overlooked for the top drives in F1.
Lotus once again surprised with the amount of laps they completed in a race. After his first lap contact with Bianchi, it was race over for Maldonado. But as for Grosjean, he was able to be competitive for a majority of the race and able to take the chequered flag. For Lotus, who started the season by missing the first winter test and going in to the Australian GP a month behind schedule, to be able to take the chequered flag proves they are improving the car and have the potential to challenge come the end of the season.
For one of Formula ones back markers this race could prove to be vital for the expected 10th place battle in the constructors championship between Marussia and Caterham. Since the two teams came in to Formula One they are yet to secure a point and the 10th place in the constructors championship usually comes down to who has finished highest. In Australia, Marussia achieved a 13th place finish, which had the potential to mark them out for 10th place already, but one race later Caterham struck back with a 13th and 14th place finish. Their 13th place finish was measured to be just better than Marussia’s on time.
Now circling back to the race winner. By taking the chequered flag first today marked Hamilton’s 23rd race victory. Coming in the same weekend he marked his 33rd pole. That’s two records for the Mercedes driver but not the only records broken. Mercedes also secured a new record by securing a one-two finish for the first time since 1955.
For me driver of the day goes to Hulkenberg. I feel that his drive to fifth in the Force India was the best shown today. But it could easily have been awarded to Hamilton or Rosberg who drove a faultless race to secure the one-two finish. Make sure to leave who you thought was driver of the day in the pole below.
Provisional Results for the Malaysian Grand Prix:
- Lewis Hamilton
- Nico Rosberg
- Sebastian Vettel
- Fernando Alonso
- Nico Hulkenberg
- Jenson Button
- Felipe Massa
- Valtteri Bottas
- Kevin Magnussen
- Daniil Kvyat
- Romain Grosjean
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Kamui Kobayashi
- Marcus Ericsson
- Max Chilton
[Daniel Ricciardo, Esteban Gutierrez, Adrian Sutil, Jules Bianchi, Pastor Maldonado, Sergio Perez. Did not finish] For official time sheets for the Malaysian Grand Prix, click here.