Today marked the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix era in Formula One. The first race took place here in 1999, and will always be remembered for Michael Schumacher’s comeback following his broken leg at Silverstone, where he sacrificed certain victory to try and help team mate Eddie Irvine win the title. Okay so both cars were later disqualified, handing the title to Mika Hakkinen, then reinstated, taking the title fight down to the wire because everyone likes not having a clue what is happening!
Bernie Ecclestone, in a bid to make the race more interesting for European viewers, then decided to make the race an hour later than usual because Europeans apparently hate getting up before midday, and also decided to move the race into the middle of monsoon season causing the 2009 race to be abandoned half way through, Felipe Massa to panic and Kimi Raikkonen to eat ice cream.
Is it any wonder then that the Malaysian Grand Prix is no longer happening?
Anyway, enough of my opinions and let’s get on with some actual racing!
Toro Rosso announced that Danil Kvyat is to be replaced by Pierre Gasly with immediate effect.
Lewis Hamilton took pole, from Kimi Raikkonen. Sebastian Vettel suffered a power unit failure during FP3, which Ferrari were unable to fix in time for qualifying, leaving him at the back of the grid. Not good news for the title contender, as no one has ever finished on the podium here whilst starting from outside the top ten. At least this allowed him to replace as many engine components as his heart desired without incurring any further penalties, every cloud has a silver lining, right Seb?
Just when Ferrari thought things couldn’t get worse, Kimi Raikkonen also suffered a power unit failure, and didn’t even make the grid, leaving a Kimi shaped hole on the front row.
Hamilton took the lead from Verstappen, Bottas and Ricciardo. Ocon got slightly squeezed by Perez, but they don’t collide. Ocon instead chose to drive into Felipe Massa, getting himself a puncture and forcing him to pit for new tyres. Ocon jumped straight on the team radio to let them know that it was Perez’ fault!
Hamilton’s lead didn’t last long, as he was caught and passed by Max Verstappen and spends the race hoping the Red Bull will break down, as it has been doing all season. Bottas, was also caught and passed by a Red Bull, and Vettel was already up to 11th, could that podium have become a reality?
As drivers started to make their pitstops, it became obvious that the early stop and undercut was the way to go as Felipe Massa jumped team mate Stroll, only for Stroll to bite back instantly and steal the position back.
Pierre Gasly was told that there was a Sauber in front of him and to go through it. I am not sure that is a sensible plan, and going around the Sauber would make a lot more sense!
As the drivers in front of him pitted, Vettel found himself in 5th, and had the pace to ensure that those he got ahead of those he had overtaken, stay behind him when he himself pits.
Lewis Hamilton told his race engineers that his tyres were fine. I am not sure why then, when he is winning he is always complaining about them?! How about a quick sing-song as not much is happening on track!
YOU ONLY MOAN WHEN YOU’RE WINNING! MOOOOAAAAAN WHEN YOU’RE WINNING! YOU ONLY MOAN WHEN YOU’RE WINNING!!
Ocon hit another car that was not his team mate. This time it was Carlos Sainz, which caused him to spin but keep going. Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost was quick to pin 100% of the blame on Ocon but the stewards however disagreed and decided that no further investigation was required.
Vettel was now right on the tail of Bottas for 4th as Hamilton pitted and came back out just in front of the battle between his team mate and Vettel. Vettel pitted in a bid to perform the undercut on Bottas and jump him for 4th, which he did successfully once Bottas pitted the following lap.
Ocon was now trying to retire from this race by hitting Felipe Massa – for a second time! He took the scenic route through the grass for a spot of rallying, before blaming that one on Felipe.
Once all of the pit stops were completed, Verstappen was leading from Hamilton, Ricciardo, Vettel and Bottas. Vettel was setting fastest laps and breaking Montoya’s record from 2004 in a bid to catch Ricciardo, and Ricciardo was warned that Vettel would be with him in 4/5 laps.
Ricciardo was given breathing room by Alonso, who held Vettel up badly and gave Vettel cause to complain. All the complaining these drivers have done today makes you wonder if they are taking part in “Stroptober”! Think about it, they could throw tantrums for the entire race weekend, and raise money for charity at the same time!
Palmer spun but keept going, before losing the back and colliding with Magnussen who calls him a “F*****G LUNATIC! Maybe he should sign up for Stroptober too?
Vettel was forced to call the fight for the podium off and settle for fourth place, on a track both him and Raikkonen had the pace to fight for the victory, and that must be hurting Ferrari badly.
Verstappen crossed the line for his second career victory, with Hamilton second, Ricciardo third, Vettel fourth, Bottas fifth, Perez 6th, Vandoorne 7th, Stroll 8th, Massa 9th and hang on, how did THAT happen? Ocon 10th?
On the slow down lap Lance Stroll hit Vettel, causing severe damage to the rear of the Ferrari and a possible gear box change for Vettel, which will cause him to take a 5 place grid penalty. The stewards looked into the incident and announced no further action.
Drive of the day: Fan Vote: Sebastian Vettel
Drive of the day, Fiona’s vote: Very tough choice this week, so many deserving candidates. Vettel for his fight back from last to fourth. Verstappen, for his flawless performance and second race win, Ocon for colliding with three cars, blaming Perez for him hitting Felipe, and still managing to score a point! But I am going to go with Stoffel Vandoorne. Finishing 7th in a McHonda, beating Alonso, and has now scored more points than him this season.
Conclusions from Malaysia:
- Dark chocolate mint M&Ms are the best thing I have ever tasted!
- Hamilton is slowly gaining a grip on the title.
- Happy Birthday Max Verstappen
- The Force Indias can go three races without hitting each other.
What a great way to end the Malaysian Grand Prix era, and a fantastic way to start Stroptober!