Sebastian Vettel managed to do what seemed like the impossible just a fortnight ago: end the dominance of the Mercedes AMG Formula One team. The German, in only his second race for Ferrari, won yesterday’s 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix in decisive fashion, finishing ahead of Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg after starting at second on the grid. Hamilton finished 8.569 seconds behind the leader, with Rosberg 12.31 seconds back.
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One of the most stunning drives, however, was that of Vettel’s teammate Kimi Räikkönen. Also confirming the performance of Ferrari’s SF-15T 2015 F1 car, the Finn managed to finish fourth despite having to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap two because of a puncture. He then fought his way back up the order, although he was more than 50 seconds off the pace of his teammate by the end.
Things looked normal at the start of the race, with Hamilton leading from pole. However, a spin by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson on the fourth lap brought out the safety car. Both Mercedes drivers went in for an early pit at this point, thus setting themselves up for a three-stop strategy. Ferrari kept its drivers in the race, relying on a two-stop strategy in the end, though this wasn’t the case for Räikkönen due to his aforementioned puncture, which occurred after some contact with Sauber’s other driver Felipe Nasr.
Further back, Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa finished fifth and sixth respectively. After a poor start, Bottas benefited from the early safety car, as did Massa, who at one stage was running in fourth position. With the impressive performance of Ferrari’s SF-15T in the hot and steamy conditions, Räikkönen jumped both drivers at the final of three pit stops as Massa and Bottas raced wheel-to-wheel to the end, swapping positions on the final lap.
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2015 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix
Another impressive run was that of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen. The Dutch 17-year-old finished seventh, making him the youngest driver ever to score world championship points. His teammate Carlos Sainz crossed the line eighth. Behind them were Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo in ninth and tenth places respectively.
Sadly for McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard, in his first race of the season, failed to finish, retiring on lap 21 because of a cooling issue with his car’s Honda power unit. His teammate Jenson Button also finished prematurely, ending on lap 41 because of an issue with the power unit’s turbo.
Following this weekend’s race, Hamilton remains on top of the 2015 Drivers’ Championship standings with 43 points, though thanks to his win, Ferrari’s first since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, Vettel moves up to second place with 40 points. Rosberg sits in third with 33 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes has a clear lead with 76 points, followed by Ferrari on 52 points and Williams on 30 points. Teams now have two weeks to enjoy before heading out to Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Below are the full results for the 2015 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix:
1) Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG
3) Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG
4) Kimi Räikkönen, Ferrari
5) Valtteri Bottas, Williams
6) Felipe Massa, Williams
7) Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso
8) Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
9) Daniil Kvyat, Infiniti Red Bull Racing
10) Daniel Ricciardo, Infiniti Red Bull Racing
11) Romain Grosjean, Lotus
12) Felipe Nasr, Sauber
13) Sergio Perez, Force India
14) Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
15) Roberto Merhi, Marussia
Ret) Pastor Maldonado, Lotus
Ret) Jenson Button, McLaren
Ret) Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Ret) Marcus Ericsson, Sauber