Ferrari Steal a Win in Malaysia
The second Grand Prix of this new season was definitely not what anyone could have expected following the performance in Australia two weeks prior. After a very wet qualifying session in which Hamilton faced stiff competition from his teammate Rosberg and closest rivals Ferrari. Vettel managed to squeeze in ahead of Rosberg to join Hamilton on the front row.
Unfortunately, the minute the race started, disaster struck. Marcus Ericsson in the Sauber spun off on lap one, losing his brakes and causing an early retirement from the race.
This incident called for an early safety car to be deployed on lap 2, which closed up the pack considerably and was good news for Raikkonen, who had been forced to take an early pit stop after having his tyre punctured by the other Sauber of Felipe Nasr not long after the crash.
Vettel Makes Good Use of the Safety Car
Vettel took full advantage of the safety car and didn’t pit, unlike his Mercedes counterparts, which meant that he led the field when the safety car was removed and was able to shoot off into a ten-second lead immediately afterward.
By the time his rivals had caught up, he was able to comfortably pit and came out ahead of Rosberg, and by the second pit stop he had managed to gain a 14-second lead on Hamilton, which despite being whittled down to 8 seconds by the end of the race, was enough to see him past the chequered flag.
Thus, Vettel chalked up his first victory with Ferrari and his first of the season, beating the odds in a spectacular fashion. All eyes were on the Mercedes camp, and Ferrari’s goals were to beat the Williams cars which came in fifth and sixth place behind Raikkonen; nobody expected to see such pace from the Italian team.
This is good news for Vettel who had an unremarkable season last year, and better news for Ferrari as, if they can keep up this sort of pace to match the Mercedes in future races, they could well take the constructors’ championship this year.
McLarens’ Hitting a Tough Spot
Things were not so good at the other end of the field, though, as both McLarens were forced to retire due to technical issues. McLaren have had a dreadful start to the season so far, with Alonso failing to start last race and Button experiencing gearbox issues, and they scored no points in Malaysia either. Their pace is the slowest of all the cars bar Manor, and something will need to be done in order to step up performance and see the best from these standout drivers.
Interestingly, both Toro Rossos came in ahead of their Red Bull counterparts. Max Verstappen rolled home in 7th and Carlos Sainz followed just behind him, beating out senior driver Ricciardo and newly promoted second seat Kvyat.
Red Bull have also not had a fantastic start to the season, and certainly are well off the pace which everyone expected to see from the former constructors’ championship winner.
Hopefully, Red Bull will be able to find the missing ingredient in time for the next race and bring back the stellar performance of 2013. It was a great drive from the sister team, though, and Verstappen will be happy to have finished in the top seven on his second ever F1 race, as the youngest driver in history.
Can Ferrari capitalise on their success? Will Mercedes be gunning for revenge? Catch it all in the next GP, in Shanghai on 12 April; it’s sure to be a good one.
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