Formula One: Hamilton leads from lights to flag to win at Sepang!
Lewis Hamilton has won the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix after leading from pole position to the victory. Team-mate Nico Rosberg came home second for the first 1-2 finish for the team since their Brawn GP days. Sebastian Vettel finished third for Red Bull and wasn’t far off of Rosberg’s Mercedes, seemingly showing a dicipation in the domination as seen in the Australian race.
Sergio Perez was the first retirement of the race before the lights had even illuminated to start the race. The Mexican was suffering with pre-race hydraulic problems on his Force India and couldn’t make the grid.
21 drivers still made the start however and as the race got under-way, the two Mercedes cars jumped ahead, with Rosberg taking Sebastian Vettel for 2nd place. It was Daniel Ricciardo who had one of the best getaways however as he jumped from fifth place to pass both Ferrari’s into turn 1. The Australian then used his track positioning to go around the outside of Sebastian for third place.
The start wasn’t a clean one for a few drivers, with Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi coming into contact at turn three, which later resulted in a 5 second stop-and-go penalty for the Marussia driver. There was more contact on lap 2, with Kevin Magnussen coming into very light contact with the rear of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. The contact was front wing with rear wheel, which caused a puncture for the Finn. Magnussen was also awarded a five second stop-and-go penalty for the collision.
A pair of team-mates continued to lead another pair, with Hamilton sprinting off into the lead ahead of Nico Rosberg, with Ricciardo and Vettel following in the Red Bulls. The order of the Bulls didn’t remain that way for long however, with Vettel using DRS to get past his team-mate.
The first pit-stop phase of the day occured on lap 12 with Fernando Alonso pitting from 5th place. Daniel Ricciardo pitted from 4th on the next lap and emerged side-by-side with the Spaniard in the Ferrari. Alonso was ahead into turn 1, but Ricciardo fought back and held the position out of turn 2.
Vettel pitted on the next lap and emerged just ahaed of team-mate Ricciardo. Vettel was held up by Bottas in the Williams which allowed Ricciardo to close in, but it wasn’t enough for Ricciardo to challenge.
The two Mercedes cars pitted on the next two laps, with Nico Hulkenburg breifly taking the lead. He didn’t keep it for long however, as Hamilton easily passed the Force India with the newer tyres.
The Williams cars were fighting their way through the field after a disappointing qualifying. By lap 21 the pair were in 10th and 11th. They’d both come into contact with each other a few laps earlier, with Felipe complaining that he’d been hit by Valtteri.
The second pit-stop phase went much like the first, with most cars remaining in the positions that they were in. Daniel Ricciardo was the first to pit followed by Vettel, Rosberg and race-leader Hamilton in the subsequent laps.
There was a threat of a safety car just after the second pit-stops when Adrian Sutil’s Sauber broke down just after the final turn. Thankfully he’d bought his car to the inside of the circuit and the marshalls were able to push his car off circuit. Sauber’s day went from bad to worse, as Esteban Gutierrez in the sister car pulled into the pits to retire his car.
There was a threat of rain towards the closing stages of the race, with Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen both reporting spots of rain on the circuit. It wasn’t enough to warrent any wet tyre changes, with the remainder of the race running in the dry.
Daniel Ricciardo came in for his last scheduled pit-stop on lap 41, but he’s soon have to make two more! The left front wheel wasn’t fitted properly and Daniel had to stop in the pit-lane and get pushed back into his pit for them to fit the wheel properly. The RB10 managed to get back on track but then suffered a front wing failure, with the wing cutting the front right tyre. He had to pit again to fix the wing and then was awarded a 10 second stop and go penalty for being released from the pits with his wheel not fitted properly. Daniel left it a few more laps before bringing his car into the garage to retire from the race; a miserable start to his first season with Red Bull. He was also given a 10 place grid penalty for the next round in Bahrain as a result of the unsafe release.
With 6 laps to go, there was one more pit-stop for the leaders. Once again it was Vettel pulling in first, with Rosberg on the next lap and Hamilton after that. All the stops went smoothly and as a result, on lap 56 with a lead of 17 seconds, Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to win the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix!
Team-mate Nico Rosberg crossed the line in second to take a 1-2 finish for Mercedes, the first time the team have done so since they were Brawn GP in 2009. Sebastian Vettel took 3rd place at the wheel of the Red Bull and was visibly impressed after a dreadful pre-season and opening race for the reigning champions.
The closing stages had seen a close battle between Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenburg, with Alonso coming out on top after a well executed move into turn’s 1 and 2. Hulkenburg held on to take 5th with Jenson Button in 6th.
Last year, we’d seen some controversy with team orders between the Red Bull and Mercedes cars, this year it was replicated with the Williams team. Felipe Massa was leading ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who was much quicker and on newer tyres than the Brazilian. The team radioed Felipe asking him to not hold Valtteri up, with the message echoing that of the infamous message to Felipe in the German Grand Prix of 2010.
Felipe didn’t heed the request and remaind in position, eventually coming home in that position, despite having been asked several more times to let Valtteri through. Felipe came home in 7th with Valtteri in 8th.
Kevin Magnussen had a disappointing day following his spectucular debut in the opening race of the season. After recieving a stop and go penalty early in the race, the Dane fought back to take 9th place ahead of fellow rookie Daniil Kvyat. Both rookies have scored points in their first two races in Formula One.
Romain Grosjean held off Kimi Raikkonen to take an impressive 11th place in the Lotus. Kamui Kobayashi took 13th place in one of Caterham’s home race after a strong drive featuring battles with Grosjean.
7 cars failed to finish the race, with Ricciardo, Gutierrez and Sutil being the first three. Jean-Eric Vergne suffered mechcanical failures during the race and retired his Toro Rosso to the garage. Jules Bianchi and Pastor Maldonado suffered the same fate, with Perez being last on the finishing order having not started the Grand Prix.
2014 Malaysian Grand Prix results:
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||15||2nd|
|5||Nico Hulkenburg||Force India||10||7th|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1||11th|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||+1 Lap||15th|
|12||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+1 Lap||6th|
|13||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham||+1 Lap||20th|
|14||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham||+2 Laps||22nd|
|15||Max Chilton||Marussia||+2 Laps||21st|
|16||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||DNF||5th|
|19||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||DNF||9th|
|22||Sergio Perez||Force India||DNS||14th|
Race winner Lewis Hamilton: “That was just incredible after such a difficult weekend and a long winter. I just feel so grateful, particularly after the tragedy three weeks and I would like to dedicate the win to the families. Today you are sweating before you even got in the car so you just have try to keep cool and keep your focus. But the team were absolutely spot on with all their instructions today so big thanks to them.”
Nico Rosberg, who finished second: “I got a great start today, it was tough but I took it from there. I was trying to chase Lewis but he was just too quick for me today.”
Sebastian Vettel, who finished third: “The start was not very good and I was quite surprised when I saw Nico on my right. I thought I had a good start but Nico was there, it was quite tight, Daniel was coming as well and I lost a place. Fortunately I got it back and later I tried to get as close to Nico as I could, but then it was like he found another gear and pulled away. At the end I was just trying to get the car home. There’s still a long way to go – the Mercedes cars are quick!”
By Jordan Groves Formula 1 correspondent for RTR Sports Marketing Follow Jordan on twitter at www.twitter.com/jgroves1996