Daniel Ricciardo claimed his fourth career victory in Malaysia after a series of fortuitous events. Besides redeeming the ill-fated Monaco Grand Prix, Ricciardo took the opportunity to dedicate the victory to the Red Bull team, his family and the memory of his old friend Jules Bianchi.
In the first corner, Sebastian Vettel launched an ambitious attack on Max Verstappen during which they made contact, sending Vettel sliding into the path of Nico Rosberg and breaking his suspension along the way. Verstappen managed to avoid any serious trouble, while Ricciardo tucked in behind Hamilton to continue the fight.
Yet another mechanical issue struck Lewis Hamilton's car, and the victory that should have corrected momentum back his way literally went up in flames.
A virtual safety car to clear Hamilton's car allowed both Ricciardo and Verstappen to pit. Having gained a tactical advantage through some early pitstops, Verstappen turned up the heat on his teammate. Ricciardo had an answer for everything that the Dutchman threw at him and thoroughly deserved the victory. Team principle Christian Horner insisted the pair were free to race so long as they brought the cars home, a comment many interpreted as a message for the drivers to hold station.
Within the first 10 laps Rosberg had regained a points-paying position and in the final phase of the race was able to muscle his way past Kimi Raikkonen for P3. His aggression earned him a questionable 10-sec penalty, but with a fierce pace advantage Rosberg was able to secure the podium. With Hamilton out of the race it was even better than a victory for Rosberg who has the opportunity to reset ahead of Japan with a 23 point championship lead.
Post-race, Hamilton let loose claiming that he couldn't understand why only his engine kept having problems and even claimed that "somebody doesn't want me to win".
Whether he is referring to a mysterious, imaginary boogeyman within the team or divine intervention, he needs a string of victories to put away Rosberg and claim his fourth title.
Unlike the last few seasons where Rosberg was cast as the villain, both drivers have had runs of good form punctuated by races were they looked lost at sea.