Grand Prix of Malaysia – Race

Will Mercedes win the Constructors’ Championship today? Will Hamilton reclaim the lead in the Drivers’ Championship or can Rosberg open the gap?

It’s great to see BUT qualify 9th for his 300th F1 start, and VES gets P3 as a present for his 19th birthday.

Provisional grid: HAM, ROS, VES, RIC, VET, RAI, PER, HUL, BUT, MAS, BOT, GRO, GUT, MAG, KVY, SAI, ERI, NAS, PAL, OCO, WEH, ALO*
ALO qualified P22 but has 45 grid spot penalties for various engine changes, so he’ll start P22 … which is why there’ll be rule changes for next season

Radio from HAM – he spotted that the pit lane speed limit says 60km/h but it should be 80; it’s amazing how they spot these details.

ALO on the pit lane – “don’t know how many places we’ll recover but we’ll have fun”

Air temperature 33°C; track 53°C; there’s little cloud cover

Radio for NAS waring him about the track temperature
The top 10 are all starting on soft compound tyres, the same sets on which they set their fastest Q2 time
Behind them it’s a mix of medium (BOT, MAG, NAS) and soft (GRO, GUT, KVY, SAI, ERI, OCO, WEH, ALO) with just PAL starting on hard tyres.

HAM leads everyone away on the formation lap
Puff of smoke from ROS and HAM as they get going
MAS can’t get his Williams to move – he says the throttle’s not working – he’ll be pushed in to the pit lane
They’ll all be trying to go easy on their tyres and get the brakes to the target temperatures
MAS is going again, driving to the end of the pit lane
Radio from PAL – “I’m losing power”
Grid forms up
Long wait for the lights to appear
Radio from SAI – “the engine is switched off”
Lights finally come on
No yellow flags from the marshals on the grid
Lights out, and everyone pulls away – I guess SAI’s engine restarted ok

01/56: Contact in turn 1 – VET hits ROS, spinning the Mercedes
VET’s front left wheel is bent back
No on-screen timing info 🙁
Virtual Safety Car deployed
Radio from VES – “Sebastian is crazy!”; “Agreed”
VET has pulled off track and parked the mangled Ferrari
PER has a puncture
Looks like MAG has a problem too

02[VSC]: KVY pits, followed by MAS, MAG, GUT
Radio from VES laying in to VET again
Replay of the start shows VET dived inside VES and tapped him, and then hits ROS
VSC ending

03: HAM, RIC, PER, VES, RAI, BUT, HUL, BOT, GRO, OCO
ROS is P17
VES takes P3 from PER
On-screen timing is finally working
DRS enabled

04: RIC fastest lap 1:40.978
RAI inside PER into Turn 2, takes P4

05/56: HAM, RIC, VES, VET, PER, BUT, HUL, BOT, GRO, ALO; ROS is P15
RIC f/lap 1:40.462
ROS takes P14 from PAL
GRO defending P9 from ALO (who started P22!)
Radio from PER saying VES passed RAI before the VSC ended

06: HAM f/lap 1:40.090
Radio for RAI – “very hot on the rear caliper – we’re about to get an alarm”

07: Radio for MAS – “we’ve got a front puncture; pit this lap”
Williams mechanics have a new front wing ready for MAS too
MAS pits; they didn’t change the wing though
ROS up to P12; SAI is next

08: ALO closing on BOT
Race control – Turn 1 incident involving car 5 (VET) will be investigated after the race – causing a collision
Radio from VES – “very hard to stay behind (RIC)”; told to manage the gap
GRO has gone off, across the gravel, into the tyre wall
VSC deployed

09[VSC]: Crane in the gravel to remove GRO’s car

10/56[VSC]: VES pits, followed by PER, ROS, HUL, BUT
Radio for ROS telling him to keep positive delta (i.e. don’t exceed VSC speed limit)
GRO walks back to the pits; gives a thumbs down
PER’s stop was a little slow; he barely got out the box before HUL arrived
ROS all over the rear of HUL
VSC ends

11: HAM, RIC, RAI, VES, BOT, SAI, OCO, ERI, PER, PAL, NAS, BUT, HUL, ROS, ALO, KVY, WEH, GUT, MAG, MAS
ROS passes HUL

12: HAM f/lap 1:39.643
SAI harrying BOT for P5
PAL locks up as ROS closes on him

14: ROS up to P9
OCO under investigation for speeding in the pit lane

15/56: HAM, RIC, RAI, VES, BOT, SAI, ERI, PER, ROS, BUT, HUL, PAL, ALO, NAS, KVY, WEH, OCO, GUT, MAS, MAG; retirements: GRO, VET

16: ROS takes P8 from PER
5-second time penalty for OCO – speeding in the pit lane
HAM isn’t opening a gap quickly enough; he’ll probably rejoin behind VES when he pits
Radio for HAM discussing tyres; they’ll extend this stint by 3 laps

18: ROS inside ERI in Turn 1 to take P7
Radio for MAG telling him they’re going to retire the car

19: MAG pits; retires
ROS inside SAI into Turn 15 to move up to P6
Replay shows MAG’s lap 1 incident, where he hits someone (GUT?) and then KVY hits the rear of MAG

20/56: HAM, RIC, RAI, VES, BOT, ROS, SAI, ERI, PER, BUT, HUL, ALO, PAL, NAS, KVY, WEH, OCO, MAS, GUT; retirements: MAG, GRO, VET

21: HAM pits; hard tyres
VES looks at the inside of RAI into the final turn; RAI dives into the pits
HAM rejoins P3, behind RAI

22: RIC pits from P1; hard tyres; rejoins P3, well ahead of RAI
BOT takes P5 from BOT despite locking up

24: HAM faster than VES but over 7sec behind the Red Bull

25/56: VES, HAM, RIC, RAI, ROS, BOT, PER, BUT, HUL, ALO
HAM f/lap 1:39.186
Top 5 have all pitted but BOT yet to stop

26: Little lock up from VES in the final turn

27: HAM has closed to 6.2sec behind VES
Radio for HAM telling him gap will continue to close because VES is on older tyres

28/56: VES pits from P1; quick stop; hard tyres; rejoins P3
HUL all over the rear of BUT

30/56: HAM, RIC, VES, RAI, ROS, PER, BUT, BOT, PAL, SAI, ERI, ALO, HUL, NAS, WEH, OCO…

32: HAM f/lap 1:38.595
ROS pits from P5; hard tyres; rejoins P6

33: RAI pits; hard tyres
ALO attacking SAI

34: ALO takes P9
Radio from HAM – “tyres a dropping a bit of grip”

35/56: HAM, RIC, VES, RAI, ROS, BUT, BOT, PER, ALO, SAI
Incident involving car 31 (OCO) under investigation – speeding in the pit lane (again)

36: HAM shouts “blue flags!” as he laps MAG

38: Radio for HAM – “great lap times”
ROS looks at the outside of RAI into Turn 1
ROS dives inside RAI in T2; contact – seems like a silly move by ROS

39: VES tucked up under RIC’s wing
VES using DRS to close even more on his teammate
Incident involving cars 6 (ROS) and 7 (RAI) under investigation – causing a collision

40/56: HAM, RIC, VES, ROS, RAI, BOT, PER, ALO, HUL, BUT
RIC still defending from VES, which allows HAM to open a bigger lead

41: HAM has a fire! He pulls off track and has to park the Mercedes
VSC deployed
RAI pits; soft tyres
Radio for ROS – “Lewis has stopped; he’s out; the two Red Bulls lead”

42[VSC]: RIC and VES pit, nose to tail; VES has to wait for RIC to be serviced
GUT has lost the front left wheel! He had just pitted, so an unsafe release penalty for Haas?
ROS pits
VSC ended

43: RIC, VES, ROS, RAI, BOT, PER, ALO, BUT, HUL, PAL, SAI, ERI, NAS, MAS, KVY, OCO, WEH; retirements: GUT, HAM, MAG, GRO, VET
10-second penalty for ROS – causing a collision

44: ROS f/lap 1:36.999
Will Red Bull tell RIC and VES to hold position?

45/56: ROS f/lap 1:36.424
VES is closing a little on RIC

46: ROS is almost 10 secs ahead of RAI, close to cancelling the penalty

47: HUL takes P8 from BUT

48: NAS pits; looks like they’re retiring the car
Radio for RAI reminding him of ROS’ 10-sec penalty

50/56: RIC, VES, ROS, RAI, BOT, PER, ALO, HUL, BUT, PAL, SAI, ERI, MAS, KVY, WEH, OCO

51: Incident involving car 21 (GUT) will be investigated after the race (losing a wheel after a pit stop)

52 = 5 laps remaining: RIC laps ERI (P12)
VES has a wiggle as he exits turn 5 … and again a couple of turns later

54: ROS was allowed to turn his engine up for a couple of laps, so he’s now 12 secs ahead of RAI

55/56: Looks like VES is holding station, not challenging his teammate

56 = final lap: ALO closing on PER
RIC takes the chequered flag

Provisional result: RIC, VES, ROS, RAI, BOT, PER, ALO, HUL, BUT, PAL; SAI, ERI, MAS, KVY, WEH, OCO
DNF: NAS, GUT, HAM, MAG, GRO, VET

“Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo dedicated his victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix to the late Jules Bianchi.” [BBC]

ROS goes to Japan (next weekend’s race) with a 23 point lead over HAM.

When BBC interviewed HAM he said: “My question is to Mercedes. We have so many engines made, but mine are the only ones failing this year. Someone needs to give me some answers because this is not acceptable. We are fighting for the championship and only my engines are failing. It does not sit right with me.”
There’s no way Mercedes (or any of the teams) would deliberately undermine one of their (very expensive) drivers – if they don’t want someone to win, they’d simply replace them with another driver!

FIA reports: “Lewis Hamilton insists he has complete faith in his Mercedes team, despite saying – in the heat of the moment – that the engine failure which robbed him of potential victory in Malaysia on Sunday did not ‘feel right’.”

FIA also reports: “Sebastian Vettel has been handed a three-place grid penalty for next weekend’s race in Japan after the stewards in Malaysia deemed him responsible for his first-corner clash with Nico Rosberg in Sepang.” He was also given two penalty points on his super-licence.

In that same report: The stewards in Malaysia also investigated Haas after Esteban Gutierrez’s car lost a wheel before retiring – the result, they say, of the failure of the rim blowing the wheel past the retention devices. They absolved the Mexican of knowingly driving a car in an unsafe condition, but fined his team 5000 euros after saying that “some function of the design, part failure or fitting allowed the wheel to come loose on the track, which is considered a serious safety issue. The stewards determined that this led to the car being released in an unsafe condition.”

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