Winners and Losers at the Malaysian Grand Prix

Winners and Losers at the Malaysian Grand Prix

31 March 2014 – The Malaysian Grand Prix saw Mercedes record its first one-two finish since 1955, with Lewis Hamilton getting his title challenge well and truly underway. GPUpdate.net presents its winners and losers from Sepang.

Winners

Mercedes was expected to lead the way in 2014 and after two races they've certainly lived up to pre-season predictions. Lewis Hamilton's performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix was as comfortable as Formula 1 victories get as he cruised to his first win of the year, while team-mate Nico Rosberg survived an early Red Bull onslaught to collect a measured second place. It was Mercedes's first 1-2 since 1955 and one achieved with ease. Hamilton was 17 seconds ahead of Rosberg, with Vettel a further seven seconds behind. The only other drivers to get within 80 seconds of Hamilton at the finish were Fernando Alonso and Nico Hülkenberg. It's also highly unlikely that the race winner was pushing to the maximum throughout the 56 lap encounter. Mercedes already has a 25 point lead over McLaren in the Constructors' Championship, but perhaps more crucially its buffer to Red Bull is already 53 points after just two rounds. The most interesting part of Mercedes's win was that it came courtesy of Hamilton, whereas Rosberg triumphed in Australia after Hamilton's premature retirement. Rosberg leads the way by 18 points, but the Brit's dominance at Sepang will pose questions to his team-mate.

The intra-team battle at Force India is swinging firmly in Nico Hülkenberg's favour during the early phase of the season after the German collected a fine fifth place at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Hülkenberg built on a strong result in Australia by progressing through to Q3 in difficult conditions, where he set the seventh quickest time. He stayed out of trouble at the start, moving a place when Kimi Räikkönen slipped back with a puncture and consequently embarking on a race long tactical battle with Alonso. Hülkenberg opted for a two stop strategy and stretched his Medium tyres for longer – which briefly elevated him to the lead – but on used Hard tyres he was ultimately helpless to prevent Alonso from gaining a position. Nonetheless, he put up a fight and didn’t make it a free DRS pass for the Spaniard. Daniel Ricciardo's late demise elevated Hülkenberg to fifth and means that he already has 18 points on the board in 2014. Somewhat satisfyingly, not having sufficient financial backing has meant that a seemingly missed opportunity to drive for a 'top' team has worked out in his favour so far and his talent has shone through.

Yes, the team that finished with both cars a lap down and outside of the points really are winners this weekend. Because in Formula 1, perception is key. Not meeting high expectations will be deemed as a failure, while exceeding low expectations merits praise. Caterham endured a torrid time in Australia and free practice for Kamui Kobayashi in Malaysia was almost a non-event. Then in qualifying, Marcus Ericsson dipped a wheel on the white line and a one way ticket to the barriers (an excusable excursion considering it was his first wet experience in Formula 1, period). But in the race Kobayashi shone as he made his tyres last and battled with some of the midfield runners, before he slowed the pace for a long stint on the Hard compound during the final segment of the race. Ericsson meanwhile was no pushover as he defended aggressively against one of the Toro Rosso drivers and didn’t let Räikkönen straight through. 13th and 14th elevates Caterham above Marussia in the championship. With Renault expected to make gains across the season and with the CT05 yet to complete a proper race weekend in terms of reliable running, a point will surely come for the team in 2014.

Losers

Formula 1 knows when to kick a man when he's down and the object of misfortune this weekend was Daniel Ricciardo. After his exclusion from the Australian Grand Prix, Ricciardo put in a composed, if unspectacular, performance during qualifying to line up in fifth place, a second down on team-mate Sebastian Vettel. There was then the unusual sight on Sunday of an Australian in a Red Bull not tumbling down the order when the lights went out as Ricciardo muscled his way past Alonso and took advantage of Vettel into Turn 4 to move up to third place. He slipped behind the German but maintained a two second gap until his final pit-stop, where a sequence of horrendously unfortunate events began. His right front wheel was not affixed properly and consequently he had to be stopped and wheeled back to the pit box where the issue was resolved. But the force of lifting up the car by the jack man is thought to have contributed to his front wing becoming loose, which resulted in another stop. He pulled the car into retire soon after but the unsafe release had already triggered the FIA's automatic 10 place grid drop for the next race. Plus Red Bull was reprimanded for a team member not wearing protective head gear at the pit stop. All in all, an episode in how not to do pit-stops. But the 'honey badger' will return stronger.

In a season where team-mate Hülkenberg has already aptly displayed his ability, Sergio Pérez is firmly on the back foot after a couple of dismal races. In Australia it was an errant Esteban Gutiérrez who compromised his race but in Malaysia a technical issue left him stranded even before the race began. Pérez was initially unable to leave the pit lane on his way to the grid and once he got going, his Force India kept going into neutral as he attempted to shift down through the gears. He crawled back to the pits but the team was not able to find a solution. He was already several rows behind team-mate Hülkenberg after rear brake instability during qualifying left him with a lack of confidence, but the failure pre-race left him unable to mount a fight back. He's already 18-1 down to Hülkenberg in terms of points, so he needs a couple of strong races in the near future. Somewhat surprisingly, it was the first time Pérez has not been classified in a race since the end of 2012.

The stewards seemed to be in a harsh mood all weekend as both Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen were awarded penalty points for very minor misdemeanours. But Jules Bianchi was also slapped with two penalty points for causing a collision on the first lap of the race down into turn four. Penalising Bianchi for the minor collision with Pastor Maldonado appeared harsh initially, as the Venezuelan swept across from the outside without consideration for his rivals. But Bianchi had sustained a puncture seconds beforehand when he was clipped by Jean-Éric Vergne, meaning that Bianchi was trying to stop a hobbled car when the collision occurred. It was another example of draconian measures from the stewards, especially as both drivers retired soon after with mechanical problems not caused by the accident. Bianchi still has 10 points worth of breathing space before he is banned, but that's not the issue. Drivers need punishing if they are a consistent liability and present a danger to their peers and trackside workers but the desire to hand out sanctions to extremely minor events is getting out of control. No-one wants to see drivers being stupid out on track, but is there really a need for every little incident to warrant a penalty?

Phillip Horton
Twitter: @PHortonF1

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Thursday 29 September 2016

  2. Video of the Day: Life in the pit lane - #4 04:04

    Video of the Day: Life in the pit lane - #4

    Andy McMillan discusses his 'wheel off' duties in the next part of Williams' 'Life in the pit lane' series.

    F1
  3. Wednesday 28 September 2016

  4. 18:44

    Latest F1 photos: Wednesday at Sepang

    F1
  5. Formula E 2016/17 calendar confirmed 18:43

    Formula E 2016/17 calendar confirmed

    Formula E's 2016/17 calendar has been formally confirmed, ahead of next weekend's season-opening round in Hong Kong. The…

    FE
  6. McLaren gets 2018/19 FE battery deal 18:32

    McLaren gets 2018/19 FE battery deal

    McLaren Applied Technologies has been confirmed as the exclusive battery supplier to the Formula E championship for the 2018/19…

    FE
  7. Early 2017 compound choices mandatory 17:51

    Early 2017 compound choices mandatory

    The FIA's World Motor Sport Council has revealed that Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli will mandate the number of sets of…

    F1
  8. FIA reveals provisional 2017 F1 calendar 17:37

    FIA reveals provisional 2017 F1 calendar

    The FIA's World Motor Sport Council has released a largely unchanged provisional 2017 Formula 1 calendar, which will once again…

    F1
  9. Lynn to make WEC debut with Manor 16:25

    Lynn to make WEC debut with Manor

    Williams development driver Alex Lynn will make his World Endurance Championship debut with Manor at Fuji Speedway next…

    Misc
  10. Renault e.dams unveils 2016/17 FE livery 16:12

    Renault e.dams unveils 2016/17 FE livery

    Renault e.dams has unveiled a revised blue livery for the 2016/17 Formula E championship, which will begin next weekend in Hong…

    FE
  11. Ericsson escapes cycle collision with chicken 15:54

    Ericsson escapes cycle collision with chicken

    Sauber's Marcus Ericsson has revealed he was lucky to escape with "bruises and scratches" after suffering an unusual incident…

    F1
  12. Abiteboul sure Renault can score more points 14:26

    Abiteboul sure Renault can score more points

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul is confident that the team can add to its points tally after Kevin Magnussen returned…

    F1
  13. Porsche Supercup stays on F1 support bill 12:36

    Porsche Supercup stays on F1 support bill

    The Porsche Supercup will remain as a Formula 1 support race for at least the next three years after signing a new…

    Misc
  14. Video: Hamilton and Rosberg in Malaysia 11:14

    Video: Hamilton and Rosberg in Malaysia

    Watch as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg spend time in Kuala Lumpur ahead of the Malaysia Grand Prix.

    F1
  15. Mercedes out to make up for 2015 defeat 10:06

    Mercedes out to make up for 2015 defeat

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team is focused on maintaining its momentum at its 'second home race' in Malaysia this…

    F1
  16. Buller returns to V8 3.5 series at Monza 08:40

    Buller returns to V8 3.5 series at Monza

    Will Buller will make a return to the Formula V8 3.5 championship with RP Motorsport at Monza this weekend. Buller, 24…

    FV8 3.5
  17.  Preview: Malaysian Grand Prix - Round 16 07:36

    Preview: Malaysian Grand Prix - Round 16

    Formula 1 moves from Singapore to Malaysia for the second race of the sport's late flyaway phase, as the title battle heats up.…

    F1
  18. Video of the Day: Life of a suspension bolt 05:26

    Video of the Day: Life of a suspension bolt

    Red Bull, which produces over a million Formula 1 car parts a year, tells the story of a front suspension bolt.

    F1
  19. Tuesday 27 September 2016

  20. 17:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  21. Verstappen: Positive to be 'talking point' 15:36

    Verstappen: Positive to be 'talking point'

    Max Verstappen says it is positive to be a "talking point" in Formula 1, whether comments are good or bad, and insists he has…

    F1
  22. Video: Ricciardo previews Malaysian GP 13:02

    Video: Ricciardo previews Malaysian GP

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo looks ahead to this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

    F1
  23. Soft tyre favoured for Japanese Grand Prix 11:13

    Soft tyre favoured for Japanese Grand Prix

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed the driver-by-driver selections for the Japanese Grand Prix, with the yellow-marked…

    F1
  24. BMW announces Andretti Formula E tie-in 10:49

    BMW announces Andretti Formula E tie-in

    German car manufacturer BMW has announced a tie-in with Andretti ahead of the 2016/17 Formula E season, in a move that could…

    FE
  25. Video: Formula E reflects on second season 10:32

    Video: Formula E reflects on second season

    Formula E looks back at its second season, ahead of the 2016/17 campaign beginning in Hong Kong.

    FE
  26. Mallya wary of 'twists and turns' over P4 09:38

    Mallya wary of 'twists and turns' over P4

    Vijay Mallya has hailed a strong atmosphere at Force India, as the team looks to strengthen its grip on fourth in the standings…

    F1
  27. Pirelli: New Sepang surface 'big unknown' 08:12

    Pirelli: New Sepang surface 'big unknown'

    Pirelli's Motorsport Director, Paul Hembery, is viewing the new track surface at the Sepang International Circuit as a "big…

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: Life in the pit lane - #3 05:26

    Video of the Day: Life in the pit lane - #3

    Next up in Williams' 'Life in the pit lane' series is Ed Smith, in charge of putting a wheel on the car.

    F1
  29. Monday 26 September 2016

  30. Hamilton out to end Rosberg's winning run 15:12

    Hamilton out to end Rosberg's winning run

    Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he needs to get back to winning ways if he is to clinch the 2016 title, after Mercedes…

    F1
  31. Honda still unsure over Malaysia upgrade 13:18

    Honda still unsure over Malaysia upgrade

    Honda is still unsure about introducing a power unit upgrade at the Malaysian Grand Prix, and will make a final call later in…

    F1
  32. Video: Hülkenberg's Malaysian GP preview 12:16

    Video: Hülkenberg's Malaysian GP preview

    Force India driver Nico Hülkenberg looks ahead to this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

    F1
  33. Rosberg: Upcoming races 'anyone's game' 11:16

    Rosberg: Upcoming races 'anyone's game'

    Nico Rosberg is refusing to get carried away by his recent run of victories, which have moved him back into the title lead…

    F1
  34. Haas to re-test new front wing in Malaysia 10:41

    Haas to re-test new front wing in Malaysia

    Haas will re-test its upgraded front wing at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, after a troubled weekend in Singapore last…

    F1
  35. Lorenzo: Crash helped me finish second 10:08

    Lorenzo: Crash helped me finish second

    Jorge Lorenzo reckons his warm-up crash was a crucial factor in him beating Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi to second position…

    MotoGP
  36. In photos: Button's 17 seasons in F1 07:44

    In photos: Button's 17 seasons in F1

    Jenson Button will start his 300th Grand Prix in Malaysia this weekend before stepping down from racing duties at the end of the…

    F1
  37. Interview: Button on reaching 300 races 07:36

    Interview: Button on reaching 300 races

    Jenson Button will contest his 300th Formula 1 race at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, cementing his position behind Rubens…

    F1
  38. Video of the Day: Jenson Button's 300 club 05:42

    Video of the Day: Jenson Button's 300 club

    Hear from Jenson Button, who will mark his 300th appearance in Formula 1 at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    F1
  39. Sunday 25 September 2016

  40. 16:28

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Aragón

    MotoGP
  41. Márquez pleased to halt Rossi's momentum 16:03

    Márquez pleased to halt Rossi's momentum

    Marc Márquez admitted he was pleased to halt Valentino Rossi's momentum in the championship as he chalked up his fourth MotoGP…

    MotoGP
  42. Smith to make MotoGP return at Motegi 15:04

    Smith to make MotoGP return at Motegi

    Tech 3 has confirmed that Bradley Smith will return to MotoGP action at Motegi, after sitting out three rounds of the…

    MotoGP
  43. Márquez extends lead with Aragón victory 13:54

    Márquez extends lead with Aragón victory

    Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez extended his MotoGP championship lead with his fourth victory of the season, ahead of Yamaha pair…

    MotoGP
  44. Heineken eyes Formula 1 race in Vietnam 10:28

    Heineken eyes Formula 1 race in Vietnam

    Formula 1 Global Partner Heineken says it would like to see the sport branch out further into the Asia Pacific territory, and…

    F1
  45. Injured Lowes to miss Aragón Grand Prix 08:08

    Injured Lowes to miss Aragón Grand Prix

    Tech 3 rider Alex Lowes will not participate in the Aragón Grand Prix after being deemed unfit by medical staff on Sunday…

    MotoGP
more news