Daniel Ricciardo wins the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Sepang success for Daniel Ricciardo, who takes his first win since 2014. But Red Bull’s first one-two since Brazil 2013 came at a cost for Mercedes. With Rosberg punted out by Vettel at the start, then Hamilton forced to retire with an engine fire.
Across the weekend, Hamilton has been setting blistering times in the blistering heat to top practice sessions and qualifying. Securing pole in dominant fashion, as errors by Rosberg meant he could only take second.
Then come Sunday, as Hamilton and Rosberg eased out of their grid positions, Rosberg did not get away well. Seeing Hamilton edge out into the first corner with Verstappen and Vettel breathing down his neck.
A dive down the inside of Verstappen then came from Vettel, as the two went into the first corner side-by-side. But with Rosberg ahead, three into two doesn’t go and contact was made. Spinning Rosberg round and down to last place, while Vettel limped away with broken suspension.
Verstappen knew where he wanted to lay his blame. Lamenting Vettel as “crazy”, before adding “he went into Rosberg like a ******* idiot!”
Although when Verstappen and Vettel arrived at turn one alongside each other, Max did edge into the corner first. Yet, had Rosberg not been there, both would have made the corner.
While Rosberg now had a race on his hands to fight through the field, he would not be alone. With Massa forced to start from the pit lane after missing the formation lap as “the throttle is not working”.
Amidst the turn one chaos of a spinning Rosberg also meant a bunch of early pit stops. With Gutierrez stopping with a puncture after contact wth Magnussen as the cars pinched to the inside. Magnussen later would be forced to retire from the race due to contact at the first corner, as after tapping the rear of the Haas, Kvyat the whacked the rear of his Renault.
Early stops also meant early gainers. One of which was Ocon, who found himself up in 10th place. While the man who started 22nd on the grid, Alonso, was up to 13th and soon challenging for the points. Whilst Rosberg, after not pitting, gained multiple places on the slower cars.
The Virtual Safety Car to clear Vettel’s car from the track seemed to be gone for a matter of seconds before another was out. As Grosjean, too, found his race to be over before it really begun.
For Romain, his retirement came as a result of a brake failure. Seeing the Frenchman dart into the gravel trap as he avoided the cars ahead.
Now, with the leaders lapping at a set pace, Verstappen came into the pits for a possible undercut on Hamilton and Ricciardo. And exited just 16 seconds back from the lead, when 24 seconds is needed for a racing stop.
Eager to go at the restart was Nico Rosberg. Who, like Verstappen, had stopped under the VSC. But for Rosberg, his stop was due to a puncture after driving over debris.
As the end of the Virtual Safety Car neared, Rosberg edged closer and closer to the rear of Hulkenberg. Nearly making contact with his fellow German before taking the place moments later.
After moving into the points at the start of the race, Ocon had managed to hold onto eighth place in the early stages. But when he eventually pitted, releasing Perez, he was soon tumbling down the order. His situation was not helped when he was handed the first of two five second time penalties for speeding in the pit lane.
Releasing Perez may have given the Mexican a small bit of breathing room. But Rosberg was on his tail and he did not take long before he was passed the Force India.
While out in front, Verstappen needed to pick up his pace to make the most of his early stop. Catching Raikkonen before diving down the inside of the Finn at the final corner.
Despite Kimi fighting back at first, the Ferrari pulled out of any defence mid-way through the corner as he came into the pits. A pit lane already home to the race leading Hamilton, who exited 8 seconds down on Verstappen.
One lap later and Ricciardo was in too, stopping for a set of hard tyres to open a possible one stop race. While Verstappen’s early stop for softs meant he would have to stop again to use the mandatory set of hard tyres.
When Verstappen made his stop for the orange-walled Pirelli tyres, he fell back down to third place – behind Hamilton and Ricciardo. Running 10-seoncds down on his team-mate, but with eight lap fresher tyres on he was on the hunt.
A hunt that saw Verstappen rapidly close in on Ricciardo. So much so, he wanted team orders. “I’m starting to get held up now,” claimed Verstappen. “If you want me to get to the end of the race, do something.”
The team, however, did not. And Verstappen had to fight for the place. Running wheel to wheel through turns five and six as he looked to take second. But with his nose ahead, Ricciardo entered turn seven still in second place.
While the Red Bulls did battle for second, Hamilton was out in front edging away to create a gap for him to stop again. But before he could stop, Rosberg was attacking Raikkonen for fourth.
Taking a wide line through turn one, Rosberg lined up Raikkonen for a move. A late move. Darting down the inside of an unexpecting Raikkonen for the tight cut back that is turn two, bumping his way by. Although too aggressively for the race stewards, who handed him a 10-second time penalty.
Hamilton: “Are you listening to me, blue flags! Oh no! No. NO!”
Still yet to stop again, the race leading Hamilton was pounding away at the front. But not for much longer as he was forced to stop. Unfortunately, forced to stop at turn one as his engine caught fire.
The Internal Combustion Engine failed in Hamilton’s car despite only being used for a single race prior to Malaysia. And despite building a gap over the Red Bulls to stop again, he was not pushing on the engine to gain time.
Now, though, he will need to push on the units he has in store if he is to challenge Rosberg for the title.
While the VSC was back out for Hamilton’s car to be recovered, Red Bull opted to double stack their cars in the pits and put them back on soft tyres. Giving both drivers the same tools to fight for the win.
Rosberg, too, was stopping again to give himself the best chance of covering Raikkonen for third place. While for Haas, they had a second car out of the race as Gutierrez’s front left tyre flew off as he made his way down the straight into turn nine.
After a tight scrap prior to Hamilton’s retirement, the change onto softs and a call by the team to avoid contact saw no further fight between Ricciardo and Verstappen for victory. With Daniel crossing the line 2 seconds clear of his team-mate, to take his first win since Belgium, 2014.
The one-two finish is also Red Bull’s best finish since the start of the hybrid era. As the last race where both Red Bulls were on the top steps of the podium came in Brazil back in 2013 – when Vettel covered off Webber and Alonso for victory.
With his time penalty applied, Rosberg still managed to come home in third place. Beating Raikkonen by three seconds also means Nico leaves Malaysia with his biggest championship lead since the European Grand Prix in Baku.
While Rosberg celebrates a 21st to 3rd place drive, Hamilton now faces a 23 point deficit on his team-mate with five races remaining. As well as the possibility of further engine penalties.
On a positive note, a successful Malaysian Grand Prix for Jolyon Palmer saw the Renault driver score his first point in Formula One. Finishing the day in 10th place, ahead of Carlos Sainz and behind Jenson Button – as the McLaren driver celebrated his 300th Grand Prix.
|Pos||Driver||Team||Engine||Gap to leader||Points|
|1||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||–||25|
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||2.443||18|
|6||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||63.794||8|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||Mercedes||74.062||4|
|11||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||98.878|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Ferrari||1 lap|
|13||Felipe Massa||Williams||Mercedes||1 lap|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Ferrari||1 lap|
|15||Pascal Wehrlein||Manor||Mercedes||1 lap|
|16||Esteban Ocon||Manor||Mercedes||1 lap|
|18||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||Mercedes||DNF – Engine fire|
|19||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas||Ferrari||DNF – Tyre|
|20||Kevin Magnussen||Renault||Renault||DNF – Contact|
|21||Romain Grosjean||Haas||Ferrari||DNF – Brake failure|
|22||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||Ferrari||DNF – Contact|