The Malaysian Grand Prix was seen as the perfect race for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team as Lewis Hamilton drove home a dominant victory while teammate, Nico Rosberg steered the second Mercedes into second place, making the first one-two for the Mercedes squad since rejoining F1 in 2010. It is also an ideal result for Malaysia’s petroleum company, Petronas, much to the cheers to the local fans. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel completed the podium in third.
As the five red lights turned green and the skies were sunny, Hamilton, who qualified at the top, blazed into the first corner, leaving competitors behind. The Brit led most of the 56 lap race and was seemingly untouchable, even by Rosberg and Vettel. By the end of lap 56, Hamilton crossed the checkered flag a whopping 17.3 seconds ahead of Rosberg, marking Hamilton’s first win in Malaysia in eight attempts.
While Vettel’s confidence was boosted with his third place finish, it was a disappointment for the other Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo. While it seemed the Australian was settling for fourth, a disastrous pit stop in which the team released him too early resulted in a loose front-left wheel and had to be wheeled back to the box for additional work. A few laps later he was forced to make two additional stops – the first for a front wing failure and the other for a stop/go penalty – dropping him to dead last. It was then the team decided to retire his car that ruined his otherwise solid weekend in Malaysia.
Fernando Alonso also provided cheers to the Ferrari fans at Sepang after a late overtaking move on Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, while teammate Kimi Raikkonen had a race to forget when he finished 12th behind the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. The Finns race was ruined after a collision with McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen in the early stages of the race ruined his rear tyres, forcing him to make an early pit stop and putting him at the back for most of the race.
Where 2013’s race in Sepang was best remembered when team orders reared its ugly head, the Williams F1 team was embroiled in another team order debacle when Felipe Massa ignored the message “Valtteri is faster than you” from his team to allow the faster Valtteri Bottas to pass the Brazilian, causing both Williams driver to battle fair and square for seventh.
F1 rookie Daniil Kvyat consolidated yet another solid finish in the points in tenth. Meanwhile, further at the back, it was a satisfying race for the Malaysia-backed Caterham team as Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson finished 13th and 14th in a rather troubled weekend, ahead of Marussia’s Max Chilton, who finished all 22 races he’s participated in so far. Eight retirements were recorded with Sauber suffering the worst with double retirements.
Unlike last year’s podium where all three winners were seen with bitter faces, it was happiness from the top three in the podium this year. The next race moves on to Bahrain next weekend, with Rosberg and Mercedes leading the drivers and constructor’s championships.
Pos. Driver Team Time
1. L. Hamilton Mercedes 1:40:25.974
2. N. Rosberg Mercedes +17.313
3. S. Vettel Red Bull +24.534
4. F. Alonso Ferrari +35.992
5. N. Hulkenberg Force India +47.199
6. J. Button McLaren +1:23.691
7. F. Massa Williams +1:25.076
8. V. Bottas Williams +1:25.537
9. K. Magnussen McLaren +1 Lap
10. D. Kvyat Toro Rosso +1 Lap
11. R. Grosjean Lotus +1 Lap
12. K. Raikkonen Ferrari +1 Lap
13. K. Kobayashi Caterham +1 Lap
14. M. Ericsson Caterham +2 Laps
15. M. Chilton Marussia +2 Laps
Did not finish
16. D. Ricciardo Red Bull +7 Laps
17. E. Gutiérrez Sauber +21 Laps
18. A. Sutil Sauber +24 Laps
19. J. Vergne Toro Rosso +38 Laps
20. J. Bianchi Marussia +48 Laps
21. P. Maldonado Lotus +49 Laps
22. S. Perez Force India +56 Laps
Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 43.066s lap 53
[Image Source: Mercedes AMG Petronas Facebook page]