Hamilton leads Mercedes to One-Two finish in Malaysia
Vettel on podium for resurging Red Bull team
Lewis Hamilton has won the Malaysian Grand Prix for Mercedes ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg, securing the teams’ first one-two finish and second win of the 2014 calendar. It is a strong comeback for Hamilton who was forced to retire his car just two weeks earlier in Australia to save his engine.
Hamilton led the race from start to finish whilst Rosberg also sat second for the length of the Grand Prix, fending off the challenges of the Red Bull’s behind him. Sebastian Vettel finished third for Red Bull Racing, but it was teammate Daniel Ricciardo who was once again the star driver for Red Bull this weekend, proving his worth with the team despite his race being set-back due to team error late in the race. It is also a good result for Vettel after being forced to retire from the first race of the season.
As the cars left the grid for the formation lap in the dry, humid weather, Sergio Perez was the only car unable to make it off the mark as his car stood on track unable to move. As the rest of the field left to complete the race formation lap and Force India recovered the car, Perez got out of the car and quickly removed his helmet signifying his race was over before it even begun.
Minutes later and the Malaysian Grand Prix got underway. Lewis Hamilton quickly moved into the lead with teammate Nico Rosberg moving into second place blocking out the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. A couple of turns later and Vettel’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo had taken third place from Vettel bumping the German into fourth place.
Whilst all cars got through the first couple of turns without incident, Maldonado and Bianchi came into contact at the back of the pack forcing both off track. Bianchi suffered from a puncture and soon made it back to the pit garage for a new tyre whilst Maldonado escaped without damage. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen also suffered from an early puncture, dropping the ex-World Champion to the back of the back before being able to recover to the pits whilst at the front of the pack, Vettel soon regained third place from Ricciardo.
On lap 7 Jules Bianchi received a 5 second stop/go penalty for causing a collision with Pastor Maldonado on the first lap of the race. Maldonado’s race was short lived thereafter though; the team would inform Maldonado to ‘box’ the car on lap 8 as they needed to retire the car. A second 5 second stop/go penalty was handed out on lap 11 to McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen for causing a collision with Kimi Raikkonen which resulted in the puncture that forced Raikkonen to pit in the early stages of the race.
Fernando Alonso’s first pit stop of the afternoon came on lap 12, an early pit stop showing that he was on setting himself up for a three stop strategy this afternoon, followed soon by Daniel Ricciardo and a stream of other drivers as the first round of stops started. Second placed Nico Rosberg stopped on lap 15, pushing the car as far as possible on the tyres he was running whilst teammate and race leader Lewis Hamilton was told to box a lap later. Hamilton would rejoin the race well ahead of Nico Rosberg, but Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg would inherit the race lead for a brief amount of time thanks to a long stint. Hamilton would take the lead back on the same lap though, continuing his charge.
The race then seems to calm as everyone on track settled into a ‘groove’ and the excitement settled. Jean-Eric Vergne became another victim of the race on lap 20 when he was forced to retire the car but for those still racing it was business as usual as the pack seemed to spread out across the circuit. Jules Bianchi was also forced to retire his Marussia citing damage from earlier collisions.
As an interesting statistic, Formula 1 Management provided the fuel useage levels at the mid-way point of the race. Whilst the Red Bull’s for Vettel and Ricciardo were across the 50% used levels, both Mercedes cars of Hamilton and Rosberg had not yet used 50% of their fuel allowance, allowing for a harder push towards the closing stages of the race should it be required. The statistic also provided evidence that the Mercedes challenger not only has speed and reliability, but is fuel efficient in doing so.
The second round of pit stops started on approximately lap 31 as teams opted to pit their drivers at various times depending on strategy. Race leader Lewis Hamilton took his second stop of the afternoon on lap 34, rejoining the race again in the lead with teammate Rosberg continuing to hold second after his second stop. A lap later, and Adrian Sutil fell victim to the retirees list, stopping his Sauber on track on the main pit-straight.
On lap 36 Kimi Raikkonen reported on the team radio that there was rain in the back part of the circuit, though it was confirmed that the rain was only very light and should not have an adverse effect on the racing conditions.
Esteban Gutierrez retired on lap 38 marking an end to a miserable weekend for Sauber. A double retirement will be something the team is looking to come back strong from when the race calendar resumes in a weeks’ time in Bahrain.
After driving an incredible race to lap 42, Red Bull got Ricciardo’s third stop of the afternoon all wrong, releasing the car before the front left wheel was secured. Ricciardo made it a short distance down the pit lane before stopping and shaking his head. The team would push the car back and ultimately rectify the problem. Ricciardo would return to the race but a full lap down. The FIA stewards would then investigate Ricciardo and Red Bull for unsafe release, and Ricciardo would suffer from a front wing failure with a section simply falling off. He would be forced to return to the pit lane again for a lengthy stop, before rejoining the race once more in P16 before being hit with a 10 second stop/go penalty for the teams’ unsafe release of the car. Ricciardo’s race came to an end on lap 53 when the team retired the car in the pit lane.
Ricciardo became the 7th driver to retire from the race this weekend, though not all retirements were due to the new power system failures.
The race leaders took their third and final pit stops of the afternoon on lap 50 as the race moved into the closing stages. Vettel stopped first from third without incident, followed by Rosberg who would also rejoin the race again in second place, and finally Hamilton.
Having completed his final pit stop, Hamilton then went on to finish the final five laps of the race and take the chequered flag in first place, leading his Mercedes team to their first one-two finish of the modern era of V6 turbo-charged Formula 1 engines.
Further down the field, an in-team scrap for seventh place was taking place between Williams drivers Massa and Bottas. Massa was instructed twice by the pit wall to let Bottas through but Massa did not concede the place, forcing Bottas to remain behind and attempt to pass Massa in racing situation. Massa would then finish the race placed seventh; completely ignoring the team orders he was given.
Behind those on the podium, Fernando Alonso finished in fourth after a fairly uneventful race for the Ferrari driver where he was once again unable to really challenge for a podium finish, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg finishing just behind in fifth place after being overtaken by the Ferrari in the dying stages of the race. Jenson Button finished sixth for McLaren with the Williams’ of Massa and Bottas behind him. Magnussen and Kvyat finished ninth and tenth for the remaining Championship points from the race.
Both Caterham cars also finished the race – Kobayashi and Ericsson finished 13th and 14th, whilst Marussia’s Max Chilton finished 15th; his second complete race finish of the year.
The F1 calendar resumes on the weekend of April 04 – 06 for the 2014 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir. It will be the circuits’ first night-race.
|01||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||56 laps - 1h40m25.974s||3|
|02||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||+17.313||3|
|03||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Renault||+24.534||3|
|05||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||+47.199||2|
|06||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes||+83.691||3|
|07||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||+85.076||3|
|08||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||+85.537||3|
|09||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes||+1 lap||3|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Renault||+1 lap||3|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Lotus Renault||+1 lap||3|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+1 lap||3|
|13||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham Renault||+1 lap||2|
|14||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham Renault||+2 laps||3|
|15||Max Chilton||Marussia Ferrari||+2 laps||3|
|16||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Renault||DNF||6|
|17||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber Ferrari||DNF||3|
|18||Adrian Sutil||Sauber Ferrari||DNF||2|
|19||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso Renault||DNF||3|
|20||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Ferrari||DNF||2|
|21||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus Renault||DNF||1|
|22||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||DNS||0|