Hamilton Heads Mercedes 1-2 in Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton scored his first win of 2014 today at the Malaysian Grand Prix, leading a Mercedes one-two in a dry race at the Sepang International Circuit.

Hamilton, who also collected his 100th Formula 1 points finish, won by over 17.3 seconds from team-mate Nico Rosberg, and was 24.5 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who finished third.

Fernando Alonso made a late move on Nico Hülkenberg, who was the only front-running driver to attempt a two-stop strategy, to take fourth place. Hülkenberg had to settle for fifth ahead of Jenson Button.

The two Williams drivers, led by Felipe Massa, finished seventh and eighth.

Off the start, Hamilton kept his lead from pole position, while Nico Rosberg made another excellent start from third place to overtake Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton led untroubled for the rest of the race, with the only lap he did not lead being the one after his first pit stop. Rosberg had some early pressure from Alonso, but began to cement position after his first stint.

Vettel lost a position to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, and was down to fourth after the opening corners of the race. However, Vettel put his new team-mate back in his place on Lap 4, using DRS to regain third, and that is where he remained for the rest of the race.

Ricciardo was heading for a fourth-place finish, albeit under threat from Fernando Alonso, but his race was ruined during his third pit stop when the Red Bull pit crew failed to fit his left-front wheel correctly. The Australian made it halfway down the pit lane before stopping, and then had to be wheeled back his pit box to get the wheel properly attached.

More woe followed for Ricciardo after his out-lap from that third pit stop when his front-wing broke as he was travelling down the pit lane, and a fourth pit stop was required. After that, he had to make a fifth trip to the pits for a ten-second stop/go penalty handed out for the unsafe release in stop three. He finally retired the car after 49 laps.

There were team orders at Williams towards the end of the race, when Valtteri Bottas, in eighth place was gaining on team-mate Felipe Massa. Massa, who is accustomed to being on the receiving end of plenty of team orders after his time at Ferrari, was informed that Valtteri was faster than him. The Brazilian did not yield to his Finnish team-mate however, and came home ahead of Bottas.

Kimi Räikkönen suffered an early right-rear tyre delamination after contact with Kevin Magnussen, and was required to pit at the end of Lap 2, which dropped the Finn right down the field. Magnussen did not come out of the incident well either – he had a front wing change when he made is first pit stop on Lap 10, and then received a five-second stop/go penalty from the stewards.

Nevertheless, Magnussen brought his car home in ninth place, to keep his 100% F1 points-scoring record. Räikkönen, however, could finish only twelfth.

Daniil Kvyat is another driver to score points in every F1 race he has driven, after finishing tenth in the Toro Rosso. In contrast, Romain Grosjean may find some consolation in being the first Lotus driver to finish a grand prix in 2014. He was eleventh.

Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson were thirteenth and fourteenth, elevating Caterham above Marussia in the Constructors’ Championship. Max Chilton was last of the finishers in fifteenth.

It was a disappointing day for Sauber, with Adrian Sutil stopping out on track on Lap 34, and then the second car of Esteban Gutierrez retiring a couple of laps later. Jean-Eric Vergne only lasted seventeen laps driving back into his pit garage.

Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi made contact early in the race, and Bianchi received a five-second stop/go penalty as a result, but the Frenchman later retired on Lap 19. Maldonado only lasted six laps in to the race, bringing his tally of completed racing laps for 2014 to just 27 laps from two races.

Sergio Perez failed even to reach the grid, and the Force India mechanics could not get the Mexican’s car started in the pit lane.