With Rosberg’s finishing third, the German continues to lead the Drivers standings with an advantage of 23 points from Hamilton. Despite a minor setback, Mercedes continue to lead the Constructors rankings with 553 points against Red Bull Racing with 359 points. Ferrari fall further adrift from the second spot with 313 point as the team only managed a fourth place at the Malaysian race courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen.
The start of the race was a nail-biting scenario where Hamilton stormed ahead for the lead, in front of Ricciardo, Verstappen, Rosberg and Sebastien Vettel. Vettel was overly anxious to jump ahead and tried to squeeze an advantage to overtake Verstappen at turn 2, who was third at the start. However, a small collision saw the Ferrari suffer a front suspension failure and Vettel went off track and out of the race. He forced an innocent Rosberg into a spin, as well. For causing the collision, Vettel will take a three-place drop at next round’s Japanese GP. “It felt like an uncontrolled four-time Champion torpedo had hit me! I reported to the pits that it was a pretty hard hit. I was fortunate to be able to fight through the field. But I got the knife between my teeth and went for it,” Rosberg said.
Prior the the first stops, Hamilton led Ricciardo comfotably.. It looked like another safe race in the bag for Hamilton or so it seemed… After the race leaders pitted, Verstappen assumed the lead until round about lap 27. Hamilton then went on a charge when he took over the race lead, opening up a gap of 22.7 secs from the Red Bull. But suddenly on lap 42, Hamilton’s car began to puff up smoke and in no time, his car’s engine was on fire. He had to call it quits almost instantly. His retirement meant that he lost 23-point to his team mate in the championship run, with five more rounds left.
With Hamilton gone, the Red Bulls had a clear path to the flag and it was a duel between Ricciardo and his young team mate. Rosberg was a distant third at the third quarter mark of the race, after he knocked Raikkonen’s Ferrari to grab the final podium spot at turn two of lap 39. That move would be penalized by the race stewards. At the final ten laps of the race, Ricciardo had a smooth sailing ride to the chequered flag as Verstappen had settle in for second, way before the final stint of the race. Rosberg, despite a ten-second penalty, completed the race in third for the last podium spot. “I came here with the will to win and that didn’t work out, so I can’t say that I am happy. I fought my way through, with some great battles along the way which I really enjoyed, and was pleased to make it back up to the podium. To be honest, I can’t believe that I’ve just been standing up there from last! After the incident with Kimi I was surprised that I got penalized. I had to give it a go at some point and I saw the opportunity, so I went for it. You need to be creative and wherever a chance comes, take it. I thought it was an aggressive move but still okay. That’s what we race for! But I accept the decision and luckily it didn’t have an influence on the result, as we had a better pace than Ferrari. I had to give it everything at the end to eke out that ten second gap but at the same time save the engine.”
Valtteri Bottas’ Williams was fifth behind Raikkonen’s Ferrari as he held off the charging Force India of Sergio Perez. “The key moment of my race was the first virtual safety car, because it handed a big advantage to those who were able to start on the medium tyres, and dropped me down the order when I pitted. To recover back to sixth place was a good effort,” commented Perez.
Nico Hulkenberg secured seventh place for another double finish for Force India as he topped the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, who secured his very first point in F1.
The F1 circus next heads to the Japanese Grand Prix at the glorious Suzuka circuit, from 07 – 09 October.
2016 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix results
1 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING 1:37:12.776
2 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING +2.443
3 Nico Rosberg MERCEDES +25.516
4 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI +28.785
5 Valtteri Bottas WILLIAMS +61.582
6 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA +63.794
7 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN +65.205
8 Nico Hulkenberg FORCE INDIA +74.062
9 Jenson Button MCLAREN +81.816
10 Jolyon Palmer RENAULT +95.466
11 Carlos Sainz TORO ROSSO +98.878
12 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER +1 lap
1 Nico Rosberg 288
2 Lewis Hamilton 265
3 Daniel Ricciardo 204
4 Kimi Räikkönen 160
5 Sebastian Vettel 153
6 Max Verstappen 147
7 Valtteri Bottas 80
8 Sergio Perez 74
9 Nico Hulkenberg 50
10 Fernando Alonso 42
11 Felipe Massa 41
12 Carlos Sainz 30
13 Romain Grosjean 28
14 Daniil Kvyat 25
15 Jenson Button 19
16 Kevin Magnussen 7
17 Jolyon Palmer 1
18 Pascal Wehrlein 1
19 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
1 MERCEDES 553
2 RED BULL RACING 359
3 FERRARI 313
4 FORCE INDIA 124
5 WILLIAMS 121
6 MCLAREN 62
7 TORO ROSSO 47
8 HAAS 28
9 RENAULT 8
10 MRT 1