For the first time since the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team did not take the victory, with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finishing second and third in the Malaysian Grand Prix behind the Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton congratulated Vettel for the race victory, believing that whatever strategy he did on the day would not have been enough to beat the German. He admitted he struggled throughout the afternoon with the balance of his car, and felt happier on the Pirelli Medium tyre to the Hard. After seeing the Ferrari take the victory in Malaysia, the reigning World Champion is eager to get to the next race in China to attempt to reclaim his spot at the front of the field.
“First of all, huge congratulations to Seb and Ferrari,” said Hamilton. “You have to hand it to them – I wasn’t expecting them to be as quick as they were today but they had some serious pace and deserved the win. It’s great for the fans to see them up here.
“It was a tough race out there. I was struggling with the balance today and never really felt comfortable with the car. There was so much understeer that tyre management was really hard.
“When I went to the option it was much better, so I thought we’d use it again at the end and was surprised we went with the prime. But I made the best I could with it and ultimately I’m sure the team made the call for the right reasons.
“There was a bit of confusion on the radio at one point where I wasn’t quite sure what we were doing on the strategy but I’m not sure if pitting with Seb would have made the difference anyway.
“They were as fast if not faster than us today and once I had that gap to make up it was just a step too far. I’m now looking forward to the next race and fighting to get back to the front again.”
Rosberg was disappointed to finish down in third, citing the time lost during the early pit stop behind the safety car for having to make it through the pack the main reason for his finishing position. He felt his race pace was okay, and closed the gap to Hamilton to just under four seconds in the final stint, having been over ten seconds adrift earlier in the race.
“That wasn’t a great weekend for me and I cannot be happy with third place,” said Rosberg.
“When the Safety Car came out I lost a lot of time in the pits. I expected to have to wait behind Lewis but it was letting some other cars by that cost the places – especially waiting for the Red Bull queue to move, I think it was.
“So I had to fight through to the top positions, which was tough but my race pace was okay, so I can build on that. We have to congratulate Sebastian and Ferrari. They had a great race pace today and it’s very impressive how they improved over the winter.
“Now this will be a fight against Ferrari I guess – and we want to strike back in Shanghai.”