Race Report: F1 TV got ‘good racing’ right this time

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The Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday saw a resurgent Lewis Hamilton take the victory but I’d like to talk about the sound of the cars…just kidding.

The grand prix was a dry-weather affair with the threat of potential rain. The possibility had some teams running long stints in case it should begin to but the typical Malaysian afternoon storm never factored.

Mercedes were the class of the field using their fuel judiciously and finding reliability for Hamilton’s car while his teammate secured 2nd and represented the first one, two result for the team since Monza in 1955.

The days started off with an ominous omen for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo as the much-discussed fuel flow sensor had failed on his car but his bad luck didn’t end there. An un-secured front-left wheel and unsafe release into the pitlane meant a 1-second stop/go penalty and a grid penalty for the next race in Bahrain. Seems a bit harsh given this young man’s performances in the first two races and both penalties being completely out of his control.

His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, made a huge recovery from Australia to secure third in Malaysia and may have just signaled that Red Bull could be the team who is making the biggest development leaps on the grid thus far.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso battled with Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg to claim 4th just ahead of the German. Alonso’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, had a puncture from the front wing of McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and languished in the back of the field all day to finish 12th.

Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa provided the controversy of the day when the Finnish driver was told to hold station behind Massa. Bottas radioed that Massa needed to get on with business because he was holding him up. Later, the team radioed Massa and told him to not hold Bottas up but the Brazilian ignored team orders and the pair finished 7th and 8th for the day. Massa defended his actions while Bottas took the high road and denied comment.

World feed got good racing right

As for the race itself, I won’t dwell on the engine noise—which is still very difficult for me to digest—but I will say that the overall impression I got from this race is that Formula 1’s world-feed television producers got it right today. What do I mean?

You see, one of the criticisms I have about F1 is that we rarely see some of the best on-track action as it unfolds. Today’s broadcast saw producers reading the timing & scoring charts intently and changing to battles that were unfolding or were about to unfold. We saw great tussles between Raikkonen and Grosjean in 12th and Kobayashi and Magnussen as well as Hulkenberg and Alonso.

I realize that the battle for 12th isn’t a points-paying battle but it’s good racing and F1 is remiss in not focusing on the “good racing” portion of its product because we don’t consider it of value due to its being outside the points-paying positions.

If nothing is happening with Lewis or Nico, then focus on Chilton and Ericsson or the Williams duo or Sauber’s Sutil and Kobayashi. Let us see actual racing for positions, not just racing for points.

Today I got a much better sense of that from the FOM world feed and I applaud them for finding the action—when there wasn’t any at the sharp end of the grid—and then showing us that action. Good job folks.

Star of the show? Nico Hulkenberg. Bottas a close second.

Pos Driver                Team                    Time/Gap
 1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                1m40m25.974s
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                +17.313s
 3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        +24.534s
 4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 +35.992s
 5. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    +47.199s
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        +1m23.691s
 7. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes       +1m25.076s
 8. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes       +1m25.537s
 9. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes        +1 lap
10. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault      +1 lap
11. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           +1 lap
12. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                 +1 lap
13. Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham-Renault        +1 lap
14. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault        +2 laps
15. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari        +2 laps

Retirements:

    Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault        49 laps
    Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          35 laps
    Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari          32 laps
    Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault      18 laps
    Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari        8 laps
    Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault           7 laps
    Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes    0 laps

Drivers' championship:

 1. Nico Rosberg       43
 2. Lewis Hamilton     25   
 3. Fernando Alonso    24   
 4. Jenson Button      23   
 5. Kevin Magnussen    20   
 6. Nico Hulkenberg    18   
 7. Sebastian Vettel   15   
 8. Valtteri Bottas    14   
 9. Kimi Raikkonen     6    
10. Felipe Massa       6   
11. Jean-Eric Vergne   4   
12. Daniil Kvyat       3   
13. Sergio Perez       1   

Constructors' championship:

 1. Mercedes                 68 
 2. McLaren-Mercedes         43 
 3. Ferrari                  30 
 4. Williams-Mercedes        20 
 5. Force India-Mercedes     19 
 6. Red Bull-Renault         15 
 7. Toro Rosso-Renault       7  
 8. Sauber-Ferrari           0  
 9. Lotus-Renault            0  
10. Caterham-Renault         0  
11. Marussia-Ferrari         0

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