Tag Archives: Malaysian GP

Vettel handed a grid penalty for first-lap incident at the Malaysian GP

The first lap incident

The first lap incident

It was announced yesterday evening that Sebastian Vettel has picked up a three-place grid penalty for the next race in Japan after a collision on the opening lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel started the race from fifth on the grid but tried to go down the inside of both Max Verstappen and Nico Rosberg into Turn 1.

He clipped Verstappen and ran into the back of Rosberg’s car, pitching the Mercedes into a spin. Vettel retired immediately with suspension damage, while the other cars continued.

After the race, the stewards reviewed footage and heard from Vettel, before announcing that they have given him a three-place grid drop for next weekend’s Japanese GP at Suzuka.

He also has two penalty points added to his license, increasing his 12-month tally to four. The statement from the stewards said the following:-

‘Having thoroughly reviewed the video and having spoken to the driver concerned, the stewards determined that although the cars involved in the incident were all moving at relatively similar speeds, the driver of Car 5 made a small error entering to the inside of Turn 1 that led to the contact with Car 6.

‘As a consequence, Car 6 was caused to spin from second place and loose multiple positions, which the Stewards determined was predominantly the fault of the driver of Car 5 and therefore ordered the penalty above for causing a collision.’

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Verstappen wins Driver of the Day

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It was announced yesterday that Max Verstappen has been awarded Driver of the Day by Formula 1 fans after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was in contention for the race win at the Sepang International Circuit but he lost out to his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

F1 has changed the Driver of the Day rules, with the window to vote now beginning at the half-way point of the race and closing at the chequered flag.

Verstappen led briefly during the Malaysian GP and was involved in a close scrap with Ricciardo for second, before Lewis Hamilton’s engine failed and both drivers pitted under the Virtual Safety Car.

It’s the fifth time this season that Verstappen has picked up the award, after winning it in Spain, Canada, Austria and Britain.

Driver of the Day winners:

Australia: Romain Grosjean
Bahrain: Romain Grosjean
China: Daniil Kvyat
Russia: Kevin Magnussen
Spain: Max Verstappen
Monaco: Sergio Pérez
Canada: Max Verstappen
Azerbaijan: Sergio Pérez
Austria: Max Verstappen
Britain: Max Verstappen
Hungary: Kimi Räikkönen
Germany: Daniel Ricciardo
Belgium: Lewis Hamilton
Italy: Nico Rosberg
Singapore: Sebastian Vettel
Malaysia: Max Verstappen

Ricciardo dedicates Malaysian GP win to Bianchi

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia

In an interview with the media yesterday, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has dedicated his Malaysian Grand Prix victory to his late friend Jules Bianchi after having waited two years to do so.

Ricciardo took the win after race leader Lewis Hamilton retired with a power unit failure. He looked visibly emotional on the podium after missing out on two victory opportunities earlier in the year at Spain – which was won by team-mate Max Verstappen – and Monaco.

In a interview with the media yesterday, Ricciardo owes this victory to his good friend and to his memory. Ricciardo stated the following:-

‘I want to dedicate this one to Jules, as well. I’ve been waiting for a victory and waiting to dedicate this to him. My life definitely changed after that incident. I’m extremely grateful and appreciative of everything that I’ve got. I’ll dedicate this to him.’

Earlier this week, Ricciardo said he believed karma would hand him a victory after he missed out in Monaco when his team didn’t have tyres waiting for him during his stop, which gave Hamilton the win.

Further on in his interview yesterday, Ricciardo believes that he’s become a better driver after that episode and, whilst not mentioning karma, he alluded to it when asked about the victory. Ricciardo added the following:-

‘After Monaco in particular was obviously mixed emotions. It was a hard one to take. I felt we’ve come through that, as a team we’ve learnt a lot. As a person, it made me a bit stronger. I think I’ve only got better since then.

‘Obviously Lewis got the lead and got his problem. I’m not really one for believing in a whole lot, but obviously it went the other way in Monaco. I’ll take this today, no hard feelings to Lewis, but I’ll definitely take the win.’

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Post-Race Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)

2 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)

3 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

PODIUM INTERVIEWS

(Conducted by Mark Webber)

Daniel, that national anthem was getting to you – great win mate.

Daniel Ricciardo (referred here after as DR):- Thank you. I was a little but… firstly I’m exhausted. It’s such a hot race here. It was a race of challenges. Obviously Lewis got the lead and had his problems, so I feel… I’m not really one for believing in a whole lot, but obviously it went the other way in Monaco, so I’ll take this today. No hard feelings to Lewis, but I’ll definitely take the win.

It’s been a pretty emotional two years since the last win and we’ve come so close this year. Two weeks ago after the race I said… well, we won this year, and here you go, we got there. Big thanks to Red Bull Racing and everybody who supported me through this journey – my mum, dad, my sister, I’ve got some family here, there are numerous people here. So, I’m extremely grateful for this. Thank you for all the support. It’s overwhelming to say the least.

Congratulations, sensational drive, another big win. Max, Driver of the Day voted by the fans, charging drive, strategy was key obviously out there for everybody today? A long fight at the front in those hot conditions, in those trying conditions, how do you feel?

Max Verstappen (referred here after as MV):- I have to say after the champagne a lot better, it wakes me up a bit. But of course we were pushing the whole race. Definitely Daniel and I were pushing each other so we were going flat out so definitely after the race we had to take a break.

Well done, buddy. A sensational 1-2 for Red Bull. Nico, a very, very important third place for you today. Little bit of misfortune for your team but you fought back after an unfortunate first corner with Sebastian tagging the back of you in Turn One. Twenty-three point lead now. What are your thoughts and emotions right now? 

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- First of all, yeah, Turn One, I though it was all over, so I’m really happy to be able to fight back in such a way all the way to the podium. That’s been great. Thank you very much to all of you here in Malaysia, you’ve been amazing all week and the support has been incredible. It’s been amazing to see that. In general, I wished for as better day today, but that’s the way it is sometimes.

Five to go, how do you feel?

NR: At the moment a bit tired after that race! Apart from that it’s a good moment in general and looking forward now to the next one of course, of course full attack.

Congratulations Nico, a big points haul. Daniel, just finally with you: overdue in my opinion, off to Suzuka now which is a cracking circuit as well, so celebrations tonight or is it a short turnaround for the race next weekend?

DR: Ah, a few of us are flying tonight, so maybe a few little whiskies on the flight and sleep well and we’ll be in Tokyo tomorrow. There’s some fine Japanese whisky over there so we might have to have a day off.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Congratulations Daniel, I know how much that means to you. First of all, your view of the start incident involving Nico, Sebastian and Max. Then into the race obviously you held off Max in that crucial battle, that brief battle between the two of you, which I guess turned out to be critical from the point of view of winning the race after Hamilton dropped out.

DR: Yeah, what a day. I’m still… I realise what’s happened but a lot went down in the last two hours so it’s a lot to take in. It’s been an interesting two years since my last victory so it feels awesome for sure, I’m very grateful for it. The start was interesting. I didn’t get a great launch off the line. I saw Seb, I think it was on the inside of me, got a better run.

I think Max also had a decent start from memory and it seemed like everyone went to the inside and it didn’t look like there was a whole lot of room and Seb went even deeper. So it looked like he went a little bit deep and it looked like the inside sort of washed out. Everyone sort of tried to out-brake each other, at least from what I say.

My average start and more cautious approach into Turn One actually worked out but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Yeah, got into P2 and then was just trying to do my thing in the race. The long run on Friday wasn’t very good, we made a lot of changes, so after Friday if I would have said I’d win the race today in dry conditions… nothing is ever impossible but it was looking like it was close to be. Just tried to do our thing. Max pitted under the Virtual Safety Car at the beginning, put the soft on and at that point it looked like his strategy was working out very well for him.

So then I had to hold him off towards that mid-part of the race, just as Lewis had his problems. It was a good battle. Max was on a little bit fresher tyres and I knew he would come at some point, but obviously I was trying to do everything I could to hold him off. It was fun. It was hard racing and for sure we’re both determined to win and we want to beat each other, but I think we did it today very fair and with a lot of respect. So I thank him for that and I think it goes both ways.

It was good fun. At the end I tried to hold him off again. It was tough. It was very hot today. Normally Singapore is the most physical race but I thought today was just as physical as last week. I’m not sure still what happened to Lewis. Obviously we got that one today. Obviously we have him that one in Monaco, so I like to think it’s evened out today, so I’ll definitely take the win today.

Q: Moving on to Max, obviously your view of the start line incident, you were a bit more involved in it. Tell us a bit more about that. And, as Daniel just said, you had a better-balanced strategy than he did, so tell us how that was evolving, how you thought the race was going to pan out. And then, obviously once Hamilton dropped out, you were both pitted together, you stacked behind Daniel. Did you think you would have a chance to win the race from there?

MV: Well, finally I had a good start, so I was happy with that but then into Turn One, yeah, I braked late but I was still behind Nico and then Sebastian just dived up the inside, just went really deep and there was definitely no space for that and he T-boned Nico, so I had to avoid all the debris and the two cars. I lost three or four positions because of that which, of course, was a shame because we were in a good position after the start.

But then, yeah, after the Virtual Safety Car, I saw the green flag so I immediately passed, I think it was Kimi, so I was of course happy with that. From there on the pace was good. I passed the other cars and I was closing up to the guys in front and then we tried a different strategy and, when I was driving on the hard tyres it seems to be the right one, so I was closing up to Daniel and we had a good fight, a fair fight, and I think it shows a respect between us. And even after that little fight it will looked like it was going to happen – but then unfortunately the virtual safety car came out again.

So we pitted again. I had to go on Used Soft, I think Daniel had new ones but still it was a great battle, we were pushing each other in the heat. Normally you can cruise a bit at the end of the race, or at least it’s a bit less physical but until the last lap we were pushing really hard. Yeah, today that’s second but it’s a great result for the team, scored a lot of points. The car was working all weekend, I think it showed already on Friday in the long run that it was working really well. I think we can be really pleased with this.

Q: Nico, a third different perspective on the start line incident from you please. You were 21st at the end of that first lap. To go from there to finishing on the podium and leaving Malaysia with a 23-point championship lead, does that feel almost like a win for you today?

NR: Well, it doesn’t feel like a win because it’s only third place and today was a tough day – because after Turn One I thought it was finished. Of course I’m happy with the comeback; to get all the way back on the podium, I definitely didn’t think that was going to be possible. For Lewis, I’ve been in his position, I know how terrible it is in that moment, so I’m sure he’s totally gutted.

And your view of the start?

NR: Oh, I just got T-boned by a four-time World Champion out of control!

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action / Speed Sport) For Max and Daniel, tell us about that battle a bit earlier in the race where Max got by Daniel and you fought back and got ahead of him again. Run that by us please.

DR: There was just the one was there? Where we went side-by-side?

MV: Turn Five and Six?

DR: Yeah, I was defending. I could see Max coming, I think it was into Turn Four, I went to the inside but I knew he’d probably switch back and get a good exit into Turn Five, so yeah, out of the corner I had a bit of wheelspin and thought he’d probably get me quite easily into five – but I just had enough drive to stay on the inside and, yeah, he gave me room, we both stayed in it.

So he had the inside at Six but I held around the outside and fortunately there weren’t too many marbles, so you could run two cars side-by-side through there, which was fun, which was nice. So held that, then into Seven we tried to basically out-brake each other. I was a little bit on the cleaner line so could just go a little bit deeper into Seven and held off that time.

It was cool. To race Formula One like that, high-speed corners, to be inches from each other. It’s fun. You’re in the heat of battle, you’re seeing red but at the same time you’ve got to smile. You know the guy that’s two metres to the right of you is having the same amount of fun and you’re both trying to take what was eventually the lead of the race. So it’s a good shot of adrenaline.

Max, your view

MV: I think it’s always fun when you give each other enough space. We were not trying to squeeze each other or anything . That’s great racing at high speed. And then, like Daniel said, into Turn Seven, we tried to brake as late as we could – but at one point I decided to give up because I was a bit in the tighter line so, in case you clip the kerb, you bounce to the left, we both have nothing. It’s better to be one and two.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Max, lap number 52 you have 1.1s behind Ricciardo, probably next lap you could get DRS, then suddenly 1.2s, 1.4s and two seconds. It was naturally consequence of the race or did you receive any orientation to stay in second position?

MV: No, I was pushing. Also, when you get very close it overheats the tyres and I was already on older tyres, so it was just very difficult to get into the DRS. And like I said, if you are on old tyres, before with the hard tyres I had a few laps advantage so you can do a few laps within a second but if you are on older tyres, to try to get within a second is very hard.

You were free to compete to the end?

MV: Yeah, for sure. The team said we were free to race – but of course in a clean way. I think that’s what we did.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, can you tell me something about that situation with Kimi when you overtook him and got a penalty?

NR: Well, I went for it and we touched and that’s it. I can’t remember the details. For sure it was an aggressive move and they judged it to be a bit too aggressive and that’s it. I didn’t think I was going to get a penalty at the time but….

Q: (Chris Lyons – AP) Daniel, before, whilst Lewis was still out there, what was the thinking on the pit stop strategy in terms of how it would play out going on to that final set of new softs?

DR: I’m still not too sure at the moment how it would have worked out. I guess, at the time, because Max was the tail car, I think they thought they would just try something with him, I guess. I was still in a good… obviously I had good track position and my tyres were still fresh so I guess it didn’t really make sense to pit me. My engineer was asking me how my tyres were and I said they were holding on OK.

At the time, I didn’t see any reason to pit either but then as the race unfolded it looked like probably what Max had done… it was looking like it was probably the stronger, the strongest strategy but I don’t think it was that obvious at the time. I think, as I said, him being the tail car there was a bit more freedom to probably experiment with him and then split the strategy. I’m glad I was able to hold on but I think that was the reason for that.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS.NL) Daniel, what was the moment you realised ‘I’m going to win this one’ and Max, what was the moment you realised ‘this will be P2’?

DR: For me, the first sign was holding off the first real attack from Max. I thought, when he came and got within DRS, obviously I was going to fight for everything I had, within reason, but I was thinking it was going to be quite hard to hold on for the next 20 laps  or so, but sure I was going to try and do everything I could, and when I held on the first time, I thought OK, I’ve just got to do this probably twenty more times so if I can do it once, maybe I can do it repeatedly.

So that was the first sign and then obviously with Lewis going out and then us putting the soft tyres on, I knew if I sort of drove a clean last stint, mistake-free, I should be able to hold on but you know Max has been quick all weekend, so there was no guarantees ever, but I think the last four or five laps looked like I was able to sort of stabilise my pace and keep out of the DRS so that was the moment of realisation, I think.

MV: Yeah, I think four or five laps from the end. It’s just very hard – like I said before – to get within one second. It’s a bit like you’re playing a cat and mouse game so if the car behind you… It’s a bit like how I did in Barcelona, you know? If the car’s coming close to you, you just play with it, you keep them under control, you let them slide a bit more and then as soon as you see the car behind you is struggling a bit more, you can push a bit more yourself. I think that’s what Daniel was doing.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, are you surprised that Mercedes didn’t get the Constructors’ championship here and to all the drivers, Suzuka is a very chassis-orientated circuit. What are your predictions for that race?

NR: For sure, yeah, we were hoping to get it here. It would have been great ‘cos it’s our home away from home here in Sepang, in front of all the Petronas people and all the Malaysians who are supporting us. It would have been awesome. But you know, we’re really looking good on that side so if it’s not here, we hope to be able to do it soon on another track.

And then I must say also congratulations really to the people who have done the track here, the new surface and everything, because really we see such exciting racing here, it’s possible to overtake. The last corner, what they’ve done also has been very good because you can do a couple of different lines when you’re following someone close in front. That really helps with the battling and it really has produced a great race today so really, compliments.

Japan? I think I will go very well.

Q: Daniel, how do you think Red Bull will go in Suzuka?

DR: It’s a good circuit for us. It’s a circuit I personally enjoy a lot. I’ve always loved going there, especially with the car we’ve got. As you say, it’s a circuit where a chassis can really make a bit of a difference. It’s a lot of fun. I think the package we have we can definitely fight for a podium there.

The way I see it, if we both finish here on the podium today I think we obviously have a good chance next week, so looking forward to going there. The team’s in very good spirits at the moment. We’ve had a really strong season particularly of late, a bunch of podiums, so it’s a good time to go to a circuit where we’re strong.

MV: I prefer not to say anything. Like Singapore, you say we’re going for the win… I think we hope for a bit more in qualifying, here we were like it will be difficult to get a win or at least be on the podium and here we are first and second, so I’ll just wait and see how it goes, but normally it should be alright.

Q: (Chris Lyons – AP) There must have been a lot of sweat in that shoe. Can I just get an opinion how it tasted?

DR: I love the taste, personally. Yeah, I thought today it was quite fruity. There was… sure you’ve got your salts but I was hydrating quite well today with a lot of sugars and stuff like that. It had a… I don’t know, it was sort of like a dessert, rather than a main course. It was more like a dessert. I don’t know what these boys think. Nico told me he didn’t like it very much.

Q: You certainly pulled a face on the podium, Nico, when you drank it. Is that the first time that you’ve drunk champagne out of another man’s shoe?

NR: I hope he does not win any more races this year!

DR: I haven’t made many friends actually from this.

MV: Nah, it’s alright. It was good sweat.

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.

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

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Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)

2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes)

3 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)

TV UNILATERAL

Q: Lewis, pretty close to the fastest ever lap of this Sepang circuit and I guess the word for that lap is emphatic. You must be very pleased with the performance today.

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Definitely. Firstly, I want to say a big thank you and send out a lot of love to the fans that have turned up here; a lot of British flags here and support for Petronas and our team, so a big thank-you. And secondly, a huge thank-you to the team who have continued through the whole year to improve and to come here… I mean this year, it’s definitely the best the car’s been here and of course, this year the car is obviously better but great work done, coming into this weekend and obviously the last few weeks with Nico’s wins.  But today the car felt fantastic. I really enjoyed the lap.

Q: And the lap, just a few details on it?

LH: Yeah… could have been faster.

Q: Nico, obviously the pressure was on after that first run in Q3; you were down in fifth place. The final corner seemed a bit of an issue today for you. Did you go out on that final run just making sure you secured a front row start ahead of the Red Bulls or did you think you were going for pole on that final run?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Of course I’m going for pole. What else would I be doing out there? But Lewis’s lap was very quick so it was always going to be difficult. I would have come close but unfortunately I had a mistake in the last corner, something just wasn’t going right there in that last corner.

I couldn’t get the settings right, always got a big oversteer moment into there but anyways, second place, got to live with that now. As we know from this year, second place doesn’t mean that victory is not possible tomorrow. We’ve seen that so many times. Still very optimistic for tomorrow.

Q: Max, obviously qualifying ahead of your teammate. Your long run performance yesterday looked particularly fast. Do you feel that you can go out there tomorrow and beat these guys?

Max Verstappen (referred here after as MV):- I don’t know. I think the whole weekend has been quite positive for me. We definitely made some changes after Singapore and it seems to work. Yeah, long run pace looked promising; short run, yesterday we needed to improve and I think we found a good set-up with that for today and of course very pleased to qualify behind the Mercedes cars.

Q: Coming back to our pole-sitter, Lewis Hamilton, obviously the qualifying pace advantage of Mercedes is clear but as we were just saying, the Red Bulls and the Ferraris did look pretty close to you yesterday in the long run performance. Do you expect a tough battle tomorrow from Ferrari and Red Bull?

LH: Yeah. I think they’re going to be very quick, they’ve been quick all weekend. Just to go back to my last answer, of course I’m very very happy and grateful for my lap but you always want to finish the last lap and that’s what I said but I think there’s more time there. But I think tomorrow, providing the conditions are like this, the track’s generally… the course is better, it’s a lot smoother and seems to work better with the tyres than it has done in previous years so I think it will be a close race, for sure, because I think they have very good long runs but I think we are looking quite strong also. So hopefully that’s the case tomorrow.

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Back to our pole-sitter, Lewis Hamilton, Lewis you touched on it there in your final answer but I wonder if you could dig down a little bit more in detail. Give us the changes to the surface, the changes to the camber of the corners; how different is the feel to the driving here this year? How  different is it to previous years and what’s the feeling like?

LH: Honestly it does feel better. I was a bit sceptical when I came in,  I wasn’t very sure why they made changes because the track generally felt pretty good before but it did have bumps in it which…  I generally like that, I think that’s a sign of character in a circuit but it’s a lot smoother now which I enjoy as well. There are still a couple of bumps, before turn nine. As I said, it works better with the tyres, it’s just a little bit smoother, I bit better with the flow.

The car, I would say, is a bit less sliding. And then the last corner, it’s not a lot, not a huge amount different. It was always a challenging corner. You’ve seen in the past, there were always lock-ups there so it’s just that there’s a slightly different line that you take and right at the apex of the corner is not a place you want to be, there’s no rubber there because no-one’s driving there. It’s not that easy to get there.

Q: Going back to you, Nico, obviously strategy was a big story here twelve months ago in this Grand Prix. Do you expect that again tomorrow? Obviously you’ve got to run the harder compound, do you expect to see some variation in the way that the top teams attack this race tomorrow?

NR: Well, it’s only between the medium and the hard really, so yes, it’s possible that we could see some variation. Depends maybe also on the temperatures and everything but I don’t think it’s going to be too exciting strategy-wise because the tyres are pretty similar so I don’t think it’s going to have such a deciding factor.

Q: And Max, it looked like you and your teammate both aimed to save a set of soft tyres in Q1. You did go out right at the very end but you never actually put a quick lap on those tyres so they are essentially new. Once again, Red Bull trying something a little different on the strategy as you did in Singapore?

MV: We don’t know yet. We just keep all the options open and yeah, it felt quite a good balance on the soft tyres as well – actually on all the compounds it felt good on the long runs. It just depends a bit on the temperature tomorrow and then from there on in the race we will decide what we will do.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Lewis, you have already done some fantastic laps in qualifying this year but you finished the first lap in fifth or sixth position. You had problems at the start. Did you make a special preparation for this race? Is there an improvement in the clutch system of your car?

LH: In the clutch system? It’s the same one we’ve generally had all year so there’s no changes to it, it’s just race-on-race we’re trying to understand it a bit more and more and trying to predict what it’s going to deliver etc. Nico got a great start… we’ve both generally got good starts in the last race so we are improving gradually.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS.NL) Max, after Belgium, Italy and Singapore, is there any confidence left for a good start tomorrow?

MV: I always have confidence, even if I drop back to last.

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix Qualifying Review

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But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, we saw Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.34.444, Nico Rosberg was second, Kimi Raikkonen was third, Sebastian Vettel was fourth, Nico Hulkenberg was fifth, Sergio Perez was sixth, Daniel Ricciardo was seventh, Valtteri Bottas was eighth, Felipe Massa was ninth and Jenson Button rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q1 we lose Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr, Jolyon Palmer, Esteban Ocon, Pascal Wehrlein and Fernando Alonso.

In Q2, we saw Hamilton topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.33.046, Rosberg was second, Verstappen was third, Ricciardo was fourth, Raikkonen was fifth, Vettel was sixth, Massa was seventh, Button was eighth, Hulkenberg was ninth and Perez rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q2 we lose Valtteri Bottas, Romain Grosjean, Esteban Gutierrez, Kevin Magnussen, Danill Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Lewis Hamilton secures Pole Position for the Malaysian GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Max Verstappen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton secures Pole Position for the Malaysian GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Max Verstappen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

At the end of Q3, it was Hamilton who secured Pole Position for the Malaysian GP with a lap time of 1.32.850. This was the fastest lap ever set around the Sepang circuit and congratulations to Lewis this brilliant achievement.

Rosberg qualified in second place 0.414 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen is in third 0.570 seconds behind Hamilton, Ricciardo is fourth 0.617 seconds behind Hamilton and Vettel is fifth 0.734 seconds behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen is sixth 0.782 seconds behind Hamilton,  Perez in seventh 1.469 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg is eighth 1.639 seconds behind Hamilton, Button is ninth 1.668 seconds behind Hamilton and Massa rounds off the top ten finishers.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend; even if Hamilton has a challenge on his hands to get a result this weekend.

You cannot discount Ricciardo, Verstappen or Raikkonen even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to kick start their Constructors Championship.

Hulkenberg, Perez, and Button could also have a decent race and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix on Sunday? I really don’t know.

But let’s see what happens on the Sepang circuit on race day on Sunday…