2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Max Verstappen.

The first lap incident

The first lap incident

Carlos Sainz Jr reports that his engine has shut off while waiting for the lights to turn green. But the Malaysian Grand Prix is underway! Lewis Hamilton gets a great start as does Sebastian Vettel. But Vettel tried an ambitious pass down the  inside of Max Verstappen going into Turn 1. But this only allowed Vettel to lock up and skate into Rosberg. This then broke Vettel’s left-front wheel and pushed Vettel to officially retire from the race.

This then brings out the Virtual Safety Car while Vettel’s Ferrari is safely recovered from the track. Meanwhile Esteban Gutierrez and Kevin Magnussen both have punctures and could be as a result of the first lap incident.

Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the race.

Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the race.

Lap 3 sees racing resumed with Hamilton leading Ricciardo and Verstappen. Lap 4 sees Kimi Raikkonen passing Sergio Perez for fourth place going into Turns 1 and 2. Lap 5 sees Rosberg passing Palmer for fourteenth place and is regaining positions as quickly as possible. But Grosjean is defending well against Alonso; even though Alonso is catching him quickly and manages to pass him on the next lap.

Lap 8 sees Hamilton still leading the race ahead of Ricciardo by 2.1 seconds as Grosjean, Sainz Jr and Rosberg battle for tenth place on the circuit and Button and Hulkenberg battle for sixth place. Lap 9 sees Grosjean officially retiring from the race after suffering a brake failure at Turn 14 and spinning off the circuit. Grosjean was okay and this then brings out the Virtual Safety Car.

Jenson Button running in tenth place in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Jenson Button running in tenth place in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Racing resumed on Lap 11 with Hamilton leading the grid by 2.6 seconds. There is a battle between Bottas and Sainz Jr for fifth place. The next few laps saw Button and Palmer battling for the final point of the race as Hulkenberg on Lap 15 manages to pass Palmer for eleventh place in a great move on the back straight and Rosberg passes Perez for eighth place.

Nico Rosberg battling his way through the grid in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg battling his way through the grid in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Four laps later sees Rosberg passing Sainz Jr on Turn 15 for track position in a good move. Hamilton makes his first pit stop on Lap 20 and rejoins the track in third place, handing the lea of the race to Ricciardo. Lap 22 sees Ricciardo pit for new tyres and hands the lead to his team mate Verstappen.

Max Verstappen leading the race on Lap 26. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Max Verstappen leading the race on Lap 26. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 26, Verstappen still leads the race ahead of Hamilton by 6 seconds. Lap 27 sees Hamilton regaining the lead of the race as Verstappen makes a pit stop for fresh tyres. Hamilton leads Ricciardo by 10.6 seconds. Button, Hulkenberg and Palmer are battling each other for eighth place.

Jolyon Palmer running in ninth place on Lap 32 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Jolyon Palmer running in ninth place on Lap 32 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In the second half of the race, we saw battles up and down the midfield for the remaining points in the race. At this stage of the race, Palmer is looking good to secure his first points of his career and is running in ninth place. Meanwhile, Raikkonen is bring caught by Rosberg for fourth place.

Lewis Hamilton officially retires from the race on Lap 41.

Lewis Hamilton officially retires from the race on Lap 41.

On Lap 41 of the race, a lick of flame from the exhaust of Hamilton’s car signalled a problem before the engine lost all power and grounded to a halt on the exit of the corner. With smoke still coming from the rear of the car, Hamilton came to a halt with his head in his hands and knows that trying to achieve his fourth world title has become more difficult heading to Suzuka next weekend.

A Virtual Safety Car was then deployed to clear Hamilton’s Mercedes off the circuit which then forced the Red Bull drivers into the pits for new tyres. This then made Verstappen’s decision to switch to new tyres to be eliminated as he had to stack behind Ricciardo to receive the same tyres as him.

Daniel Ricciardo leads the Malaysian GP on Lap 45 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo leads the Malaysian GP on Lap 45 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 44 sees Ricciardo leading the race ahead of Verstappen by 2 seconds even though Verstappen is catching Ricciardo relatively quickly on the race track.

Daniel Ricciardo wins the Malaysian GP ahead of Max Verstappen in second place and Nico Rosberg in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo wins the Malaysian GP ahead of Max Verstappen in second place and Nico Rosberg in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

But Ricciardo leads Verstappen on the final lap of the race by 1 second and wins the Malaysian GP which is his first win at the circuit and two years since his last win in the sport.

Verstappen is a credible second 2.4 seconds behind Ricciardo, Rosberg finished in a brilliant third place 25.5 seconds behind Ricciardo, Raikkonen was a credible fourth 28.7 seconds behind Ricciardo and Bottas finished fifth 1.01.5 seconds behind Ricciardo.

Perez was sixth 1.03.7 seconds behind Ricciardo, Alonso was a brilliant seventh 1.05.2 seconds behind Ricciardo, Hulkenberg was eighth 1.14.0 seconds behind Ricciardo, Button was ninth 1.21.8 seconds lap behind Ricciardo and Palmer was tenth 1.35.4 seconds behind Ricciardo.

Nico Rosberg leads the Driver’s Championship with 288 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 265 points, Daniel Ricciardo in third place with 204 points, Kimi Raikkonen is in fourth place with 160 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fifth place with 153 points, Max Verstappen is in sixth place with 147 points, Valtteri Bottas is in seventh place with 80 points, Sergio Perez is in eighth place with 74 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 50 points and Fernando Alonso is in tenth place with 42 points.

Mercedes still lead the Constructors Championship with 553 points, Red Bull is in second place with 359 points, Ferrari is in third place with 313 points, Force India is in fourth place with 124 points, Williams is in fifth place with 121 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 62 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 47 points, Haas is in eighth place with 28 points, Renault is in ninth place with 8 points and Manor is in tenth with 1 point.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an good weekend with Alonso to finish in seventh and Button on his 300th GP finishing in ninth place. This is the best the team could have hoped for from Sepang but I am happy with their performance this weekend.  But McLaren have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for Suzuka this week.

Palmer had a battle to finish in tenth place  but he managed to score his first points in his career as a result. He battled with Sainz Jr and Ericsson for most of the race and he deserved to get a point for his efforts on Sunday and it will help his confidence and also Renault’s for the next few races as a result.

Hulkenberg had another solid drive to eighth place on Sunday and bringing home much needed points. He has a solid run of form recently and this will help his confidence to end his season on a high.

Perez had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish sixth, but he scored more points for the Force India team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Perez scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.

Bottas did a good job to get fifth place and has to be my driver of the day. He drove a solid race  despite starting in eleventh place and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Raikkonen had a credible race to finish in fourth. It is a result that Raikkonen needed after a tough few races and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly but in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.

Rosberg deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a damage limitation performance and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.

Verstappen drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium yesterday. And once again, luck helped him achieve this but he was in the position to make hey. But what a fantastic job from him all weekend and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Suzuka.

All that is left to say about this race is that Ricciardo deserved to win at Malaysia and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. After the disappointments in Spain and Monaco, he managed to be in the position to capitalise on Hamilton’s bad luck. All credit to Daniel for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his first race of the 2016 season at last.

With the Japanese GP in a weeks time, if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton, Ricciardo or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.

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