Formula Fun: Malaysian Grand Prix Edition

Well well, now isn’t this the Formula 1 we were all hoping for? The choice of music for this weekend not only refers to the amazing comeback by the Scuderia, who just a week ago were talking about far off they still were from the Mercedes duo, but the comeback of F1 in general. No talk of it being more of a Hunger Games survival of the fittest, now it was an all out Battle Royale, with great fights all throughout the field. This is F1 baby, and mama (Bernie) made it a knockout.

Now in all honesty, up until Qualifying on Saturday nothing super notable happened. It was a lot of the usual procession of events, with a few spins and the like. The most notable thing that happened on Friday was the return of Manor Marussia to the track, with both cars getting out and running a few laps. Just, not at the same time.
The real shockers came on Saturday, however, during the rain interrupted qualifying session. Fernando Alonso’s return to driving an F1 car ended in a way no one wanted to see, with him and the sister McLaren of Jenson Button taking up the second to last row. The only cars behind them? The Manors. Honda has closed the gap down to about 2.5 seconds behind Mercedes, but that is still more of a canyon than a crevice to bridge.
The rest of qualifying went on with cars falling in and out of the positions that were expected of them. Romain Grosjean of Lotus qualified 10th on the grid, after a two place grid penalty, showcasing exactly how much the Lotus squad from Enstone has turned everything around from their dismal 2014 season. The story of the season so far, besides the Mercedes duo still looking incredible, has been the resurgence of Scuderia Ferrari, with Vettel actually splitting the two Mercedes, and lining up second for the start. This combined with Williams losing some ground to Mercedes and the newly revitalized Ferrari squad seems to be showing their true pace. This is our true order that’s shaking out.
With the race starting on time and in the sunshine, we were looking at a dry race. That coupled with Hamilton carrying a 100% pole to win conversion rate, we all expected him to rocket off, leaving Vettel and Rosberg to squabble over third. But no. Dead wrong. Vettel got a great start, and never let Hamilton get more than a second ahead of him, thus allowing him to use DRS to keep in range on the straights. Flash forward a few laps with the safety car coming out and slowing the pack down, due to the spin and beaching of Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber. This is where the race took off. The Mercs double stack themselves in the pits, leaving Vettel to inherit the lead. From here on out, it was Sebastian’s race to lose. Through amazing pace, ease on tires, and just brilliant strategy calls, the race was in control by Vettel until the end. At the age of 27, he scored his first victory for the Scuderia, the same age his mentor and idol Micheal Schumacher when he did the same feat.
Sebastian Vettel Finger
From there Hamilton and Rosberg came home second and third. The McLaren boys both retired with issues, and Max Verstappen ended up being the youngest points scorer in history. He looks to keep that record until the end of time thanks to the new super license rules.
The verdict? This race is what we all wanted from Australia. Mercedes was wounded and beaten fair and square, battles occurred all across the field, and we saw a full grid taking the track. This is Formula 1, this is what we all were hoping for. And I can only expect the season to get more juicy and brilliant from here.

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  1. Tamerlane's Thoughts Avatar
    Tamerlane’s Thoughts

    Was it tire strategy or outright pace that put Vettel up front? The win certainly made the season more interesting.
    Also, I feel so bad for Alonso.
    Finally, help me pick out a seat for Suzuka this September. Thanks in advance!

    1. Manic_King Avatar

      That last tire change was weird, HAM got tires he didn’t want and ROS got tires HAM wanted, all in all weak strategy from MB, mid-race decisions were just reactions to what Ferrari did and it all looked kinda panicky.
      PS. Jeff just had a McLaren as loaner, couldn’t he find paddock pass for you….
      Simon Arron wrote a lot of diaries for DTelegraph of UK as a free-lance F1 journalist, usually these were great reading, theres one for Japanese GP:

      1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
        Jeff Glucker

        I think those paddock paces are ridiculously hard to come by

        1. Tamerlane's Thoughts Avatar
          Tamerlane’s Thoughts

          Jeff is right.

    2. Monkey10is Avatar

      Vettel’s outright pace seemed to be similar to the two Mercedes (and Raikonnen’s was arguably even better) but the Ferrari just took to the high track temperatures much better than the Mercs. It seemed to be so easy on the tires (with no visible loss of traction or obvious fall off in lap times at the end of each stint) whilst the Mercs suffered serious wear.
      So whilst Mercedes expected to have to stop early — but then jumped into the pits uncomfortably early when the safety car came out — Ferrari planned three almost equal stints and stuck to that plan.