Sebastian Vettel took his first victory since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix and Scuderia Ferrari’s first win since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix after taking advantage of a two-stop strategy to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The German had strong pace throughout to defeat pole sitter Lewis Hamilton by over eight seconds, with the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS driver unable to find the speed necessary to continue his perfect start to the season, the reigning World Champion noticeably suffering with higher tyre degradation than the Ferrari and being forced to pit three times.
Nico Rosberg completed the podium in the second Mercedes, a further four seconds adrift, with the German also unable to make his tyres last as much as Ferrari. Rosberg was initially delayed in the pits as Mercedes double-stacked their cars when the safety car was deployed early in the race when Marcus Ericsson spun his Sauber into the turn one gravel trap when attempting an ambitious overtaking manoeuvre on lap four, and then was passed by Vettel as he struggled with his tyres.
Whereas Rosberg found his race compromised early, fourth placed Kimi Raikkonen took advantage of the safety car after the second Ferrari driver caught up to the pack after suffering a puncture at the beginning of lap two when the front wing of the Sauber of Felipe Nasr touched the rear wheel of the Ferrari. Once the safety car left the circuit, Raikkonen then drove superbly to make it into the top four, albeit almost a minute behind Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas got the better of his Williams Martini Racing team-mate Felipe Massa to take fifth late in the race, after finding his opening laps compromised when he clipped the rear of Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus, dropping outside of the top ten.
Max Verstappen became the youngest driver in Formula 1 history to score points when the seventeen-year-old finished an excellent seventh, the final driver not to be lapped. The Dutchman managed to pass team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr in the closing stages, with the Spaniard holding onto eighth to allow Scuderia Toro Rosso to score points with both drivers.
Both Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers had the indignity to be lapped by race winner and former Red Bull driver Vettel, with Daniil Kvyat managing to get past Daniel Ricciardo late in the race as the two battled on track throughout the 56 lap race. Kvyat also recovered from a clash with the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg at turn two that spun the Russian driver and earned Hulkenberg a ten-second penalty.
Romain Grosjean was just outside the points in eleventh for the Lotus F1 Team, surviving a high-speed spin after clashing with the second Force India of Sergio Perez that saw the Mexican also penalised with a ten-second penalty. Unfortunately for the second Lotus of Maldonado, the Venezuelan was forced to retire a few laps from the end of the race, pulling into the garage with an apparent mechanical problem.
Nasr could only finish twelfth after his early clash with Raikkonen, with the Brazilian being forced to pit just prior to the safety car to change his damaged front wing. He finished ahead of the two penalised Force India’s, with Perez ahead of Hulkenberg at the flag.
Roberto Merhi was able to finish his first Grand Prix for the Manor F1 Team, albeit three laps behind the race winner, but the team know that any laps at this stage of the season will benefit them in the long run, and finishing in the heat of Malaysia was a good performance.
As well as Maldonado and Ericsson, the only other retirements were of the two McLaren-Hondas, with Jenson Button retiring with a turbo issue while running competitively with the other midfield runners, while Fernando Alonso retired earlier with a technical issue the team are investigating. The Spaniard was running inside the top ten when he retired, giving the team some hope that genuine progress has been made with their MP4/30.
2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Race Result
|7||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1m39.085s|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||+1 Lap|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||+1 Lap|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||+1 Lap|
|11||8||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Lotus-Renault||+1 Lap|
|12||12||Felipe Nasr||BRZ||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|14||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|15||98||Roberto Merhi||ESP||Manor-Ferrari||+3 Laps|
|DNS||28||Will Stevens||GBR||Manor-Ferrari||0 Laps|