Race Report: Max wins Malaysia GP

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Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

Singapore was supposed to be a win a re-taking of the points lead for Ferrari. It was a track that favored the red car over the Mercedes but at turn one, that all ended. Lewis Hamilton led his Mercedes into Malaysia with a 28-point lead but on a track they were supposed to be dominant at, the Mercedes cars were mysteriously challenged for pace by the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s.

After three practice sessions, it looked clear that the Ferrari of Vettel would be the strongest contender for pole position but those hopes were dashed as manifold and turbo issues thwarted Vettel’s qualifying and left him starting at the back of the grid.

Ferrari’s issues were compounded when the car of Kimi Raikkonen was pushed back off the grid and the Finn failed to start the race with similar issues as Vettel had on Saturday and this was truly unfortunate as the 2007 champion was set to start the race on the front row.

In the end, a massive win for Max Verstappen and Red Bull who took the risk, made the move on Lewis—who couldn’t take a risk defending—and secured his second win of his career.

Win

A big win for Max Verstappen—who couldn’t seem to buy a break in 2017 with a 50% DNF rate—to pass Lewis Hamilton for the lead and never look back. A fantastic result for the Dutchman. A great start from third on the grid, a pass on lap three and a win. His second win in F1. The crowd went wild and what a way to celebrate his birthday weekend. He knew he could take the risk and Lewis couldn’t due to his title hopes and the young Dutchman was right.

A big win for Red Bull who entered the weekend on a track that should have favored the Mercedes but as of Friday seemed to favor Ferrari and due to the red car’s issues, handed the advantage to the Renault-powered Red Bull Racing team. Both cars on the podium and fans in tears.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A big win for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who started last and was engaged in a Schumacher-like recovery drive to limit the damage Hamilton would do in the points spread. Running down Daniel Ricciardo with 10 laps remaining, it was going to be tough to reach Hamilton but no driver had come from outside the top ten to secure a podium finish in Malaysia and Vettel was working very hard to become the first. A few serious attempts seemed to bring his supersoft tries to their knees and he

A big win for McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne who had out qualified his teammate Alonso and ran in the top 10 all day with some good pit strategy and race craft that saw him finish seventh. Equally a win for Williams F1 who managed to get both car in the points on a track that actually turned out to be a decent opportunity for the team.

A decent dual-points finish for Force India as well with Perez in 6th and Ocon in a punchy battle with Massa to finish 10th.

Fail

Just like Singapore, both Ferrari’s were taken out of contention at the beginning of the race. Sebastian Vettel started on soft tires at the back of the grid and Kimi Raikkonen was pushed back to the garage and didn’t start the race. The silver lining for Vettel was that they team brought a new engine, turbo and MGU-H without being impacted by the penalty that would incur and this means that Vettel will have more and fresher engines than Hamilton for the remainder of the season.

Mercedes seemed to be struggling with their new chassis upgrades all weekend. Some new upgrades were not working as they should and leading up to the race, Bottas stayed with upgrades while Hamilton reverted to old setup. During the race, Hamilton had D-Rate issues and was passed by Max Verstappen while Bottas succumbed to Daniel Ricciardo by lap lap 9. It’s clear Mercedes were having issues on a track that should favor them and it does suggest that while Ferrari struggled, the season is not over yet and anything can happen.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

Not a good weekend for Valtteri Bottas who stuck with the upgrades but couldn’t hold off Vettel or Ricciardo and finished a distant 5th.

A win to actually hear the Dutch national anthem again.

WTH

What in the world happened with Vettel and Lance Stroll in the cool-down lap? The two came together ripping the left rear wheel and suspension off of Vettel’s car and he was given a lift back to the pits by Pascal Wehrlein. Both Stroll and Vettel accused the other of hitting them.

It’s a bit of a mystery as to why the upgrades for Mercedes were not working as efficiently as they should given the simulator’s results. Mathematically speaking, the upgrades should have made the cars faster but in application, that didn’t seem to be the case.

With two Red Bull cars running up front and one of them leading the race, it is a bit of a head scratching moment as to why the two Renault’s started well but then drifted toward the back of the grid. Hulkenberg was radioing issues so perhaps both cars were struggling with a similar problem.

There was certainly some pushing and shoving out there today with Massa making his car 30 feet wide and running Esteban Ocon off and then the back and forth and weaving of Kevin Magnussen on Fernando Alonso who simply elbowed his way past the Haas F1 driver. Magnussen then had a dust-up with Jolyon Palmer at turn one on lap 39.

Not sure what prompted a piece of bodywork to break underneath Daniel Ricciardo’s car and then set about burning itself to oblivion but it made for dramatic TV with a glowing hot ball of flame underneath his car.

Malaysia GP result

PosDriverCarLapsGap
1Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault561h30m01.290s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes5612.770s
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault5622.519s
4Sebastian VettelFerrari5637.362s
5Valtteri BottasMercedes5656.021s
6Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes561m18.630s
7Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda551 Lap
8Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes551 Lap
9Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes551 Lap
10Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes551 Lap
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda551 Lap
12Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari551 Lap
13Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari551 Lap
14Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Renault551 Lap
15Jolyon PalmerRenault551 Lap
16Nico HulkenbergRenault551 Lap
17Pascal WehrleinSauber/Ferrari551 Lap
18Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari542 Laps
Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault29Electrical
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari0Not started

Drivers

PosDriverPoints
1Lewis Hamilton281
2Sebastian Vettel247
3Valtteri Bottas222
4Daniel Ricciardo177
5Kimi Raikkonen138
6Max Verstappen93
7Sergio Perez76
8Esteban Ocon57
9Carlos Sainz48
10Nico Hulkenberg34
11Felipe Massa33
12Lance Stroll32
13Romain Grosjean26
14Stoffel Vandoorne13
15Kevin Magnussen11
16Fernando Alonso10
17Jolyon Palmer8
18Pascal Wehrlein5
19Daniil Kvyat4
20Marcus Ericsson0
21Antonio Giovinazzi0
22Pierre Gasly0

Constructors

PosConstructorPoints
1Mercedes503
2Ferrari385
3Red Bull/Renault270
4Force India/Mercedes133
5Williams/Mercedes65
6Toro Rosso/Renault52
7Renault42
8Haas/Ferrari37
9McLaren/Honda23
10Sauber/Ferrari5
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johnblair7

We’ll done Max, a great win. We’ll done Seb for a great comeback drive.Well done Daniel got the podium, 2 for Redbull. We’ll done Lewis for managing the Diva. Still everything to play for between Seb and Lewis

Chuck Voelter

Lewis did interrupt Max’ celebration AND interview, bit of an alpha dog move…

johnblair7

Don’t know about that, didn’t see it, can’t see why its a relevant reply to my comment. Unless you’re thinking the Diva is a person, in this case its not its the Merc car.

Chuck Voelter

I was thinking you were referring to Lewis inner self – I’m a Lewis fan btw and agree with your post, good work by all mentioned –

deadbroke

Oh come on now. I think Lewis is one of the best F1 drivers of the modern era but he just can’t be gracious.

As soon as they are in the post race drivers room the first thing he says to Max, “I could have shut the door on you…”

subcritical71

I don’t think between the two drivers that this comment was a big deal, Max even mentioned something to the effect of ‘but you had the championship to think about’.. Lewis knows this also and that is why he didn’t shut the door. He had nothing to gain and everything to loose with that type of move.

I hope I’m wrong because I want to see an honest fight, but the Merc seems like it will be in damage limitation mode for the rest of the season if they don’t figure out the diva. We’ll know better after Japan.

jakobusvdl

Good observation DB, that did seem like a bit of bravado – particularly as in interviews he was happy with his decision not to fight Verstappen for the place. Also, he never misses a chance to run Rosberg down.
It just makes him seem insecure.

Meine Postma

Lewis is not the diva?

johnblair7

No, I don’t think so. However Toto did call the car a diva.

Guy Fawkes

Truly nice to see “ABH” (Anyone But Hamilton) on the top step this week. Great to see another good finish by RIC but it’s got to burn him up inside for VER to outrun him.

Stroll and Vettel was amazing. The best part was Stroll showing he’s been paying attention to Vettel and learning from him. Deny, Deny, Deny! “VETTEL HIT ME!” Uh, doesn’t look that way to me, Lance.

So if that crash damaged the PU on the Ferrari doesn’t that potentially give Vettel penalties for Japan?

Max Johnson

At first I thought it was a strategic 2nd place for Mercedes, but it seem Mercedes was the 3rd best car of the race and probably wouldn’t even be on the podium without the Ferrari problems. I don’t think Lewis is running away with it easily, but Ferrari might have dropped the ball.

subcritical71

I’ve been thinking since just before Spa that the Ferrari is better than the Merc. Ferrari just haven’t been able to capitalize on it, yet. It should be exciting to watch the last races!

Negative Camber

I’m wondering if the fresh inventory of engines may come in to play for Seb in the final races.

jakobusvdl

Its a heck of a way to score an extra p.u, only a 19 place grid penalty

MIE

Both Ferrari’s have been looking like they will take a fifth TC at the very least. Vettel should now be able to get to the end of the season without any further penalty. Raikkonen will still need to take a penalty somewhere.

With Ferrari now looking to be faster than Mercedes, and Red Bull getting closer to the outright pace, the end of the season could be close.

jakobusvdl

Yep, I’ve been wondering how and when Ferrari would introduce the extra p.u.
It’s kind of worked out well for Vettel, because Mercedes were having a bit of a nightmare weekend, but choosing ‘least harm’ scenerio for giving Raikonnen a fifth p.u is still going to be tricky.
It is will be great if there is still close racing, and maybe a driver’s championship fight to the end of the season. But if Mercedes sort their chassis/aero out, they’ll clear off with wcc and wdc in short order.

Negative Camber

At this point, they need a bit of good luck.

MIE

At this point (three years in to this set of regulations) they need to be building reliable power units.

FryDaddy

Please remind me again… For how many races does the engine need to be reliable?

Asking for a friend

MIE

For this season, drivers are allowed four Power Units to last the 20 races (so five races per Power Unit). For next season, the allowance reduces again, sporting regulation 23.3 a) reads:

“Unless he drives for more than one team (see 23.3(c) below), and subject to the additions described below, each driver may use no more than 3 engines (ICE), 3 motor generator units-heat (MGU-H), 3 turbochargers (TC), 2 energy stores (ES), 2 control electronics (CE) and 2 motor generator units-kinetic (MGU-K) during a Championship season. “

subcritical71

This ^^, has disaster written all over it!

jakobusvdl

Or it has ‘cost management objective’ stamped all the way through it. Either way, it’s probably a step too far for the reliability of these current p.u’s.

jakobusvdl

I agree, the p.u’s should be reliable enough for three p.u’s per season. But since it is apparent that they’re not, and grid penalties are very likely to dominate the outcome of the wcc and wdc next season, you’d think a flexible and adaptable sport like F1 could respond. Change the number of p.u elements available for the season, or the grid penalties. I’m assuming Liberty Media would have to drive this, and get the FIA, p.u suppliers and teams to agree (and it might cost them some money) but at this point it looks necessary to avoid a debacle… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Is a bit of good luck going to save Arevabene from Marcionne ?

pmr

I don’t think it’s Hamilton running away with as much as Ferrari running away from it

jakobusvdl

That was an intriguing race, all the way from the formation lap to the cool down lap. I’d hate to be Arivabene, waiting for the ‘WTH!!!’ call from Marchionne. This was a bad weekend for Ferrari, rescued to some extent by the team putting the new p.u in Vettel’s car overnight (a bonus 5th p.u), and Vettel’s recovery drive. But the failure of Raikonnen’s car has to be seen as a lost win. It was also a great weekend for the young guns, Verstappen, VanDoorne, Gasly, Ocon, and until his post race blooper, Stroll. Meanwhile in the championships, Mercedes and… Read more »

Rock or Something

Agreed I thought very entertaining. Cars breaking, facing the wrong way, slithering about, even – are you ready…cars next to each other at times. Even with NBC doing their best to keep all the action in the commercial breaks you still saw stuff happen. This race proved what my friend said – the biggest tragedy of Max’s DNF-ey season is it lets everyone else off the hook. Love him or hate him, you can’t idle around thinking about the championship and how many air filters you still have left for the season and expect to win if Max is in… Read more »

jakobusvdl

I think it was a case of Malaysia calling time on F1 (too expensive) rather than F1 getting rid of Malaysia. That is a shame there have been some great races there.

deadbroke

Easily one of the best races of the season. Even though I am a fervent “tilke-drome” hater, Malaysia does produce some great racing.

Stray observation: Max’s sister looks JUST LIKE HIM. I didn’t even need a screen graphic to figure that one out.

So nice to have neither Hamilton nor Vettel win. Quickly becoming a huge Verstappen fan.

Mioke

Folks, I have seen some talk about Alonzo not letting Vettel thru. Did not see the race so not sure why this is an issue, Was Vettel lapping Alonzo or was it a race for position?