The Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday saw the Mercedes team continuing their dominance at the start of the 2014 season with Hamilton leading from pole to finish and Rosberg also running a near perfect race to finish second.
Hamilton made a brilliant start from pole to lead from the front while Vettel who started from second on the grid slipped to fourth after being passed by Rosberg and Riccciardo. The Ferrari’s of Alonso and Raikkonen did not get away as expected with Alonso who started fourth on the grid fell to sixth after the second lap. Raikkonen had a right rear puncture and had to pit on the second lap falling to the back of the pack. In the meantime Hamilton were opening up a lead in front and both Hamilton and Rosberg set a few fastest laps in the early stages.
After lap 21/56 and the first series of pitstops Hamilton retained the lead with Rosberg second, but Vettel in third seemed to be catching the Mercedes of Vettel. On lap 35 Adrian Sutil parked his car at the entrance of the start/finish straight and a brief yellow-flag period followed for about three laps during which time light rain also started coming down in certain areas of the track. Fortunately the tracked remained fairly dry so there was no need to change tyres.
Disaster struct for Ricciardo as he came in to pit from fourth. The mechanics didn’t fit his front left wheel which caused hom to be lapped by Hamilton while in the pits. As if it wasn’t enough joining the race back in fourteenth Ricciardo’s front wing failed on the main straight two laps later and damaged his front right tyre causing him to pit again. He also incurred a ten-second stop/go penalty for his hassles and retired in the pits a few laps later bringing an end to his misery. The Mercedes team pitted for the last time on lap 51 and 52 with Hamilton set for victory. Vettel stayed in third but paced himself after what happened to Ricciardo.
Hulkenberg and Alonso gave the crowd a lot to cheer about with some excellent racing in the final few laps, Alonso coming out on top of the battle in the end. With the Bahrain race just a week off Mercedes are clearly showing that they’re the team to beat this season. Ferrari are still off the pace, but Red Bull is stepping up their game and sending a clear message with Vettel finishing a comfortable third. Force India, Williams and McLaren are also in the mix and could come up with a few surprises this season.
The top were finishers as follows:
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
4. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
5. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
6. Jenson Button (McLaren)
7. Felipe Massa (Williams)
8. Valtteri Bottas (Williams)
9. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren)
10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)