Malaysia Grand Prix

Malaysia GP: Winners and Losers

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Winners

  • Sebastian Vettel stormed from last to P4, but if that isn't enough to convince you, just imagine what he could have done for the championship if he'd won with Kimi and Verstappen behind! Only his sheepish challenge on Ricciardo near the end of the race dampened his achievement. 
  • Max Verstappen celebrated his 20th birthday in style with an unlikely win. You know taking the lead isn't expected when the commentators almost ignore that you're pressuring Hamilton and almost miss the overtake completely. Takes his 2nd victory, both of which came the week after Daniil Kvyat was demoted.
  • Red Bull are back in the damned hunt, who knew? With Mercedes suddenly off the pace in Malaysia, could they do enough to keep Hamilton off a podium or two and bring Vettel back in to championship contention? Wild. 

Losers

  • Lance Stroll avoided any penalty but won't be too popular around the Ferrari garage after lurching sideways to pick up rubber on the cool down lap and destroying Vettel's rear end. With Vettel likely to take a gear-box penalty in Japan this weekend, i'd say Lance owes him a beer or two.
  • Romain Grosjean cemented his reputation as a whinger once again this race, although it seems the teams are encouraging their drivers to complain vociferously these days, so who knows?
  • FOM race feed director's focusing on Verstappen's family. His sisters' face is burned into my retinas forever.

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Tell us your Malaysia GP Driver of the Day

Unpredictable Malaysia delivers emotional victory for Daniel Ricciardo

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.