/Hamilton Wins In Malaysia

Hamilton Wins In Malaysia

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Australia proved both exciting and controversial thanks to reliability drama and the homeboy being disqualified for breaking a fuel regulation (Red Bull and Ricciardo have appealed and the hearing is on April 14).

Two weeks on and the words “reliability” and “weather” were circulating the pitlane, with heavy rain predicted for Sunday afternoon.

No change in the practice sessions with Hamilton and Rosberg duking it out in their Mercedes. Having suffered mechanical problems in Melbourne, the Brit was looking to overcome his setback by beating Albert Park winner and teammate, Rosberg.

Malaysia is extremely hot and humid and this had an adverse affect on some of the cars. McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen lost all power at the entrance to the pitlane and both Lotuses remained in garage, Grosjean managing just two laps.

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Qualifying proved just how capricious Mother Nature could be in this part of the world. Only moments after BBC’s Suzy Perry announced she felt a few spots of rain on her forehead, an intense monsoon followed, delaying qualifying by 50 minutes.

When the rain abated enough for some track time, teams were experimenting with both intermediates and full wets. There wasn’t a lot of difference between the two, although most ended up on inters.

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Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson said he’d never driven an F1 car in the rain and his inexperience saw him crash into a barrier and spin across the track. This red-flagged the session with 35 seconds remaining of Q1.

Whilst the Mercedes and Ferraris looked strong, Vettel ended up in the garage with a problem – the world champion looked like he’d fallen at the first hurdle again until the team sorted his car and the German pumped in a lap good enough for third.

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Q2 saw drama in the first minute as rookie Daniil Kvyat and Alonso made contact. Unfortunately for the Alonso, his Ferrari’s wishbone snapped and he scampered back to the pits. The debris from the incident brought up another red flag.

Five minutes later and everyone was on full wets. Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheet with his teammate second. McLaren rookie, Magnussen proved his podium finish at Albert Park was no fluke by going third quickest.

By the end of Q2 Vettel nabbed third and teammate Ricciardo managed forth.

The rain continued to fall in the final shootout. McLaren found themselves in a very un-McLaren situation sending Magnussen out on inters – he had to quickly pit for full wets.

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Ferrari did a Stirling job in fixing Alonso’s car for Q3. He took top spot early on, but as Lewis Hamilton and Vettel bettered it, the rain really began to fall.

“I can’t see anything in my mirrors,” claimed Hamilton, “I can’t see where anyone is.”

No one could improve and the top 10 remained as follows:

  1. Hamilton (Mercedes)
  2. Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  3. Rosberg (Mercedes)
  4. Alonso (Ferrari)
  5. Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  6. Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  7. Hulkenberg (Force India-Mercedes)
  8. Magnussen (McLaren-Mercedes)
  9. Vergne (STR-Renault)
  10. Button (McLaren-Mercedes)

After equalling Nigel Mansell’s pole record a week previous, Hamilton now joins the late and great Jim Clark on 33 career poles, a British record which has stood since 1968.

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With rain predicted for the afternoon it was anyone’s guess if it would affect the race. Fortunately for the drivers and teams it remained dry as the lights flashed off in Malaysia.

Red Bull’s Ricciardo made a great start and flashed past his teammate and into third. Hamilton maintained his lead, with Rosberg second, Ricciardo third, Vettel forth and Alonso fifth. They all made it cleanly through the first few corners until Bianchi made contact and came over the radio saying he had a flat.

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A lap on and Ferrari’s Raikkonen also suffered a puncture after a close fought battle with Magnussen – this incident ended up with Magnussen taking a 5-second stop-go penalty.

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After the race had settled down and tactics came into play, the Williams boys were getting frustrated with each other. Both came over the radio complaining about each other’s driving – only the second race of the season and there’s the start of an in-team rivalry.

Around laps 10-13 the first pit stops took place, with Alonso momentarily taking a place from Ricciardo until he took turn one too wide and the Australian capitalised.

After the first stops, Hamilton led, followed by Rosberg, Vettel, Ricciardo and Alonso.

Mercedes clearly had more horses to hand as Rosberg is told to increase his lead over Vettel to 5-seconds so he can then go into fuel-saving mode. Midrace and Hamilton is told to turn his engine down, Mercedes obviously highly confident.

The Red Bull team received some very unwelcome news after the fuel drama in Australia – the fuel flow sensor on Ricciardo’s car failed and they had to switch to a back up system as agreed with the FIA.

Whispers of rain made their way down the pitlane but the track remained dry.

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Mercedes stretched their planned stints to cover the threat of imminent rain. Rosberg took a set of mediums on lap 33 whilst Hamilton pitted a lap later.

On lap 35 Raikkonen reported rain on the back of the track. A few laps on and the rain made itself known in the pitlane too, although it’s wasn’t enough to affect the third pit stops.

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More bad news for Red Bull on lap 41 as he stopped at the end of the pitlane – a wheel wasn’t put on properly, which also cost him a 10-second stop-go penalty for an unsafe release. Although they managed to get him back in the race, Ricciardo left the pitlane with his front wing dragging on the track. Another stop meant he was really out of the race.

On lap 52 Hamilton made his final stop of the day, managing to come out in the lead.

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Alonso clocked the fastest lap of the race and was all over the back of Force India’s Hulkenberg in forth. Meanwhile the Williams feud saw round two, Massa again told his teammate Bottas is faster than – “Alonso” and “Hockenheim” must have been going through his mind. This time Massa had none of it and didn’t let his teammate past. After this radio message the Brazilian must’ve been raging.

Williams: “Felipe, Valtteri [Bottas] is faster than you. Can you let him through.”

Valtteri Bottas’ race engineer: “You’re faster than him [Massa], overtake him.”

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Lap 53 and Ricciardo threw in the towel and let the team push him back into garage – despite showing so much promise; it must’ve been a very disappointing start to the season for him. Meanwhile Alonso finally made it past a struggling Hulkenberg and into forth place.

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Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap before taking the chequered flag by a comfortable 15-seconds. Rosberg made it a 1-2 for Mercedes, with Vettel third, Alonso forth, and despite struggling on old tyres, Hulkenberg managed a solid fifth.

Race Results:

  1. Hamilton (Mercedes)
  2. Rosberg (Mercedes)
  3. Vettel (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  4. Alonso (Ferrari)
  5. Hulkenberg (Force India-Mercedes)
  6. Button (McLaren-Mercedes)
  7. Massa (Williams-Mercedes)
  8. Bottas (Williams-Mercedes)
  9. Magnussen (McLaren-Mercedes)
  10. Kvyat (STR-Renault)
  11. Gorsjean (Lotus)
  12. Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  13. Kobayashi (Caterham)
  14. Ericsson (Caterham)
  15. Chilton (Marussia)
  • DNF Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing-Renault)
  • DNF Gutierrez (Sauber)
  • DNF Sutil (Sauber)
  • DNF Vergne (Toro Rosso)
  • DNF Bianchi (Marussia)
  • DNF Maldonado (Lotus)
  • DNF Perez (Force India)

With the second round out of the way it looks like Mercedes are head and shoulders above the rest of the field in every way. McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull will keep the action alive behind the silver arrows; however, we all know how fast F1 can turn on its head.

Who will be the team to beat Mercedes, and will there be blood spilt in the Williams garage between Massa and Bottas?

Next up, Bahrain.

(Journalist) – James is a published fiction and article writer from London (UK) with a serious penchant for Ferrari F1, anything with an engine, and English Pointers.