Vettel claims shock win for Ferrari in Malaysia as Mercedes pays for strategy mistake

CBQZyzkUsAAiG05Sebastian Vettel scored his and Ferrari’s first win since 2013 on Sunday, as a superb drive for his new team took him to victory in the 2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix. Vettel moved into an early lead when his rivals pitted under the safety car, and then never looked back, using a two-stop strategy to beat the three-stopping Mercedes of polesitter Lewis Hamilton and team mate Nico Rosberg.

Behind the fleet German – who poignantly lapped both Red Bulls four laps from home – polesitter Lewis Hamilton maintained his championship lead but struggled with his Mercedes’ balance on his way to a frustrated second place, 8.5s in arrears and 3.7s ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton had led away but things went awry for Mercedes when Marcus Ericsson spun his Sauber at Turn 1 on the fourth lap, bringing out the safety car. Hamilton and Rosberg both immediately pitted for Pirelli’s hard tyre, but crucially Ferrari kept Vettel out on the mediums on which all of the top 10 qualifiers had started.

As Mercedes thus locked themselves early into a three-stop race, Vettel was able to make use of his Ferrari’s lower tyre degradation to control things and get by with only two stops. Mercedes were thus left on their back foot.

Underlining how strong the red cars were in the very high ambient and track temperatures here, Kimi Rakkonen recovered from a first-lap puncture after a brush with Felipe Nasr, and then two normal pit stops, to take fourth, well ahead of a tense intra-team battle which saw Valtteri Bottas come back from a first-lap clash with Pastor Maldonado to push ahead of Williams team mate Felipe Massa on the 55th of the 56 laps.

Max Verstappen was always in contention for points, and duly took a great seventh place, making him, at 17, the youngest driver ever to score world championship points. He was the last unlapped runner. Making it a grand day for Toro Rosso, team mate Carlos Sainz followed him home in eighth.

It was a bleak day for Red Bull; Daniil Kvyat survived an attack which saw Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg spin him at Turn 2 to take a lowly ninth after a tough battle with team mate Daniel Ricciardo, whose own RB11 suffered front wing damage on the opening lap.

Lotus’s Romain Grosjean was spun by Force India’s Sergio Perez during an overtake attempt midway through the race, but recovered for 11th ahead of a troubled Felipe Nasr who struggled all afternoon with his Sauber and never looked like repeating his brilliant Australian debut.

Perez eventually led Hulkenberg home by just four-tenths of a second, both Force India drivers having been given 10-second penalties for their indiscretions.

Roberto Merhi was the final finisher for Marussia, three laps down, after team mate Will Stevens was unable to start as his car could not be repaired after his fuel system problems on Saturday.

Jenson Button’s McLaren suffered power loss just when – to his surprise – he found himself catching cars in front, while Fernando Alonso’s sister car also experienced a technical problem. Ericsson could not restart after his spin, so was the race’s first retirement.

Vettel’s victory – the first for Ferrari since the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, and the German’s first since Brazil in the same year – allowed him to close to within three points of Hamilton in the drivers’ standings. After two rounds Hamilton has 43 points to Vettel’s 40 and Rosberg’s 33.

Malaysia Grand Prix Race Results
Pos. Car # Driver Laps Behind Status Points
1 5 Sebastian Vettel 56 Leader Running 25
2 44 Lewis Hamiton 56 -8.569 Running 18
3 6 Nico Roseberg 56 -12.310 Running 15
4 7 Kimi Raikkonen 56 -53.822 Running 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas 56 -1:10.409 Running 10
6 19 Felipe Massa 56 -1:13.586 Running 8
7 33 Max Verstappen 56 -1:27.762 Running 6
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 55 -1 Lap Running 4
9 3 Daniel Ricciardo 55 -1 Lap Running 2
10 26 Daniil Kvyat 55 -1 Lap Running 1
11 8 Romain Grojean 55 -1 Lap Running 0
12 12 Felipe Nasr 55 -1 Lap Running 0
13 11 Sergio Perez 55 -1 Lap Running 0
14 27 Nico Hulkenberg 55 -1 Lap Running 0
15 98 Roberto Merhi 53 -3 Laps Running 0
16 13 Pastor Maldonado 52 -4 Laps Retired 0
17 22 Jenson Button 47 -9 Laps Retired 0
18 14 Fernando Alonso 41 -15 Laps Retired 0
19 9 Marcus Ericsson 23 -33 Laps Retired 0
20 28 Will Stevens 0 -56 Laps Did Not Start 0

 

Drivers Championship
After Race 2 of the 2015 season at Malaysia Grand Prix
Pos. Car # Driver Team Points Behind
1 44 L. Hamiton Mercedes 43 Leader
2 5 S. Vettel Ferrari 40 -3
3 6 N. Roseberg Mercedes 33 -10
4 19 F. Massa William-Mercedes 20 -23
5 7 K. Raikkonen Ferrari 12 -31
6 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 10 -33
7 77 V. Bottas William-Mercedes 10 -33
8 3 D. Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 9 -34
9 27 N. Hulkenberg Force india-Mercedes 6 -37
10 33 M. Verstappen Toro Rosso 6 -37
11 55 C. Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 6 -37
12 9 M. Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 4 -39
13 26 D. Kvyat Red Bull Racing-Renault 2 -41
14 11 S. Perez Force india-Mercedes 1 -42
15 22 J. Button McLaren-Honda 0 -43
16 8 R. Grojean Lotus-Mercedes 0 -43
17 98 R. Merhi Marussis-Ferrari 0 -43
18 13 P. Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 0 -43
19 14 F. Alonso McLaren-Honda 0 -43
20 20 K. Magnussen McLaren-Honda 0 -43
21 28 W. Stevens Marussis-Ferrari 0 -43

 

Constructors Championship
After Race 2 of the 2015 season at Malaysia Grand Prix
Pos. Team Points Behind Wins
1 Mercedes 76 Leader 1
2 Ferrari 52 -24 1
3 Williams-Mercedes 30 -46 0
4 Sauber-Ferrari 14 -62 0
5 Toro Rosso-Renault 12 -64 0
6 Red Bull Racing-Renault 11 -65 0
7 Force India-Mercedes 7 -69 0
8 McLaren-Honda 0 -76 0
9 Lotus-Renault 0 -76 0
10 Marussia-Ferrari 0 -76 0

 

 

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