As the sun beat down in Malaysia, the lights went out in Kuala Lumpur at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Within four laps, Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari was clipped by Felipe Nasr of Sauber’s front wing causing him to have a puncture; and Marcus Ericsson ran off track drawing the Safety Car out.
With high degradation of the softer compound Medium tyres, the garages bustled with activity in order to change cars over to the Hard tyres. However, Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari decided to stay out and make the most of the Mediums putting him well ahead of the favored Mercedes AMG drivers.
As the race wore on, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG continued to chip away at Vettel’s lead in hopes of catching him when he finally did change his tires. This came to fruition as Vettel came out of the pitlane in third and Hamilton once again lead in Kuala Lumpur.
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes AMG put up a stiff fight against Vettel but eventually lost out, pushing him down into third, and Vettel up to second. Hamilton’s lead did not last for long as he came into pit during the 25th lap, losing out to Vettel as he swapped tyres.
Over the next several laps race incidents were plentiful. Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull Racing spun after misjudging the placement of Nico Hulkenberg of Force India’s car as he was making a pass. Red Bull also had multiple issues with their brakes throughout the weekend, which continued throughout the race.
In lap 31 of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean of Lotus bounced tyres with Sergio Perez of Force India, which caused him to lose control and spin out. Hulkenberg and Perez’s incidents was reviewed and penalized with 10 second stop go penalties.
Back at the front of the race the fight between the mighty Silver Arrows, and Scuderia Ferrari continued. Vettel needed to pit to change over to Hard compound tyres per regulation, made his way out of the pitlane just ahead of Rosberg. This was followed by a stop by Hamilton that eventually cause trouble in the paddock, as he changed against his advice to the Hard compound.
As the race became shorter and shorter, Hamilton seemed unable to make any improvement on his second place positioning. This led Vettel to yet another victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix, making him the most successful driver in the Grand Prix’s history with his fourth win. Hamilton and Rosberg also made the podium taking second and third.
Though they tried to push as far as they could, Mclaren-Honda once again experienced Grand Prix troubles, retiring Fernando Alonso in only the 22nd lap of the 56 lap race. Their second driver, Jenson Button eventually followed in lap 44, making it the first time in many years that neither Mclaren cars would place during a Grand Prix.
As they stood on the podium, the crowd cheered with the Italian National Anthem. Vettel was elated that he had won, though exhausted, smiled cheerfully as the presented the trophies to each of the drivers. He had done what Scuderia Ferrari had tried all of last year to do; bring the fight to Mercedes. “We beat them fair and square,” he said in his podium interview at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, though begrudgingly, accepted his trophy. He had a look of defeat as he was being interviewed by Eddie Jordan. “I gave it all I could,” he told Jordan as they moved over to Rosberg, who had invited Ferrari to step their game up in Australia after the race, placed third in the race behind Hamilton.
In the closing remarks, Vettel. who was still riding high from his win, told his team from the podium, “We have to enjoy this day.” The next race will be the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 12, 2015.
By Joseph M. Padgett