RACE REPORT: FERRARI STUNS OPPOSITION IN SENSATIONAL SELANGOR
report by: Road & Race,
written by Mark
F1 RACE REPORT IS PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:
F. I. A. Formula 1 World Championship – Petronas
Malaysia Grand Prix Race Report.
The Sepang Circuit is one of the newer (in F1 terms) circuits
on the F. I. A. Formula 1 Calendar; it was designed by Herman
Tilke (who also designed the Shanghai, Bahrain and Turkey F1 circuits)
and officially opened on 7th March 1999. The circuit is located
near the international airport, 60km’s away from the city
of Kuala Lumpur. It is a clockwise circuit with the start/finish
straight running on an East/West axis. The title sponsor for this
prestigious event is the oil company PETRONAS.
The main grand
stand, situated at Turn 15, is a striking architectural feature
of the track, an image that is instantly synonymous with the Malaysian
Formula 1 Grand Prix.
The Sepang Circuit is a fast track, characterised by fast straights
and sweeping corners. There are two DRS (drag reduction system)
zones for this race: located on the 2 long straights. The track
is fairly wide in parts, which means that there are plenty of
good overtaking opportunities. There is a very tight chicane off
the main straight (Turns 1 &2), bringing with it a high chance
of first corner incidents. It is also a track that is known for
high tyre degradation, factors influencing this being: fast straights,
fast corners, abrasive surface of the track, track temperature
– always hot and humid; add to this concoction the possibility
of rain and you will realise that the team engineers will have
their work cut out for them this weekend.
is a very technically demanding track. The teams will be using
the medium “option” (white writing) and hard (orange
writing) compound Pirelli tyres. Softer compounds simply would
not last long enough on this fast and abrasive track. There is
also a good chance that the intermediate and full wet tyres will
is a fast track for the drivers, picture this sequence: though
Turns 11 – 14, the speed varies from 170km/h – 225km/h;
with an average G-force (the force of gravity that is exerted
on the body of the driver) of between 2,5 – 3,5 “G’s”
during this section. One should note that after this section,
the drivers enter the back straight – one of the fastest
sections of the course – before rapidly reducing speed to
75km/h for Turn 15 (a mere 1 “G” in comparison). The
above should give you a clear indication of exactly why Formula
1 drivers are some of the fittest men on the planet. Under these
hot and humid race conditions, they will lose a few kilograms
in body weight through perspiration alone.
Race Distance: 310,408km
Current Lap Record: Juan-Pablo Montoya –
Williams-BMW 1:34:223 (2004)
2014 Winner: Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes
It’s a beautiful, hot and humid day at the Selangor circuit.
In contrast to the season opener in Melbourne (15 cars started),
19 cars have made it to the grid for this race. Will Stevens (Manor-Marussia
team), will not start after experiencing technical difficulties
with a fuel pump on his car.
There is a
large crowd in attendance: motorsport is well-liked and supported
in Malaysia. The track and surrounding facilities are in pristine
condition; the relevant authorities have really worked hard to
accommodate this F1 showpiece.
effortless c-ordination, the mechanics are making last-minute
adjustments: a bit of dry ice here and there, checking car settings,
asking the drivers if they’re satisfied etc. The top 10
drivers have all elected to start the race on the medium compound
lap has been completed, and the cars are back in their grid positions.
A solitary red light signals the start of the warm-up lap...
5 Red lights
are on – engines revolutions are high – steady –
We are racing in Selangor!
It is a good
clean start with no major incidents. Hamilton gets away well and
leads into Turn 1. Behind him, Vettel has a slowish start and
moves across to cover the threat from Rosberg, just edging out
the Mercedes driver into Turn 1. Bottas has a poor start and loses
the cars pouring into the tight chicane that is Turn 1 cause slight
contacts: Maldonado suffers a right rear puncture after being
hit from behind. Raikkonen has a left rear puncture after Nasr
clips the rear of the Ferrari.
There is extremely
close racing throughout the field as drivers try to establish
an advantage in these crucial opening corners of the first few
laps. DRS is not yet enabled, yet there is no need as the fast-paced
action is cut and thrust.
on Lap 1 is as follows:
Hamilton leads, followed by Vettel, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Massa,
Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Ericsson, Verstappen and Grosjean.
pits – to replace the punctured right rear tyre.
Still close racing!
Hamilton sets the fastest lap: 1:46:505
– for a new nose cone.
pits – from 18th.
(Pit Lane time: 27,285s. Pit-stop time: 4,8s).
Ericsson is off! After a good overtaking manoeuvre a short while
back, he gets over excited going into Turn 1, leaves the track
and beaches the car in the gravel trap. He is unable to recover
The Safety Car is deployed.
Numerous cars attempt to take advantage of the Safety Car period
and dive into the pits:
– from 1st – re-joins 6th.
– from 3rd – re-joins 9th.
Slick work from the Mercedes mechanics as they pit both their
cars on the same lap.
– from 5th – re-joins 8th.
– from 6th – re-joins 11th.
A slow stop as there is a problem with the wheels.
The Safety Car is still out, but will be in this lap.
We are racing again!
A great start
from Vettel as he gets the jump on the field.
Perez for 5th position.
takes Perez for 6th position.
Perez for 7th position.
There is plenty
of good racing action throughout the field.
Vettel sets the fastest lap: 1:46:037
takes Kvyat for 9th position – good move from the young
Rosberg takes Massa for 7th position – good move.
Sainz for 4th position.
on Lap 10 is as follows:
Vettel leads, followed by Hulkenberg (@6,315s), Grosjean (@6,836s),
Hamilton (@8,556s), Sainz (@9,234), Ricciardo (@9,225s), Rosberg
(@10,001s), Massa (@10,24s), Verstappen (@11,754s) and Kvyat (@12,798s).
At this stage,
the top 10 is not a true reflection of the race, as there are
a number of cars that are yet to pit.
Grosjean for 3rd position – Grosjean’s tyres are getting
Hamilton knows he has to push hard to try to close the gap to
The Vettel / Hamilton gap is now @10,0s.
Vettel has yet to pit.
Verstappen for 9th position.
wide in Turn 14 – his tyres are really letting go now.
Ricciardo makes a mistake and goes wide into Turn 1! He is racing
with Sainz; his mistake means he loses a position to Rosberg.
Ferrari is showing good race pace.
Rosberg takes Sainz for 5th position.
is charging through the field from the back.
Grosjean for 4th position – as Grosjean locks his brakes
under pressure – good move.
There is some great close racing going on – such a pleasure
Hulkenberg for 3rd position.
Massa is closing
in on Ricciardo – and takes him for 7th position.
Massa is lining up Sainz next.
– from 6th – re-joins 16th.
pits – re-joins 17th.
/ Hamilton gap is holding steady @9,228s.
Maldonado incurs a 10 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
– re-joins 17th.
(Pit Lane time: 24,322s. Pit-stop time: 2,7s).
pits – from 9th - re-joins 16th.
(Pit Lane time: 24,527s. Pit-stop time: 4,3s).
There is some close racing going on out there.
Perez for 10th position – Perez promptly retakes the position.
sets the fastest lap: 1:45:956
Nasr is putting
pressure on Perez.
– from 1st - re-joins 3rd.
(Pit Lane time: 23,996s. Pit-stop time: 2,4s).
Kvyat takes Ricciardo for 7th position - a great scrap between
sets the fastest lap: 1:45:372
The Iceman’s Ferrari is showing great pace.
Ricciardo pits – from 8th - re-joins 15th.
(Pit Lane time: 25,604s. Pit-stop time: 3,5s).
Vettel sets the fastest lap: 1:44:452
Team Mercedes is watching the timing screens and thinking: “Where
did this pace come from? This was not in the script.”
takes Alonso for 8th position – the Finn is flying.
on Lap 20 is as follows:
Hamilton leads, followed by Rosberg (@7,415s), Vettel (@8,271s),
Massa (@20,338s), Bottas (@22,913s), Verstappen (@28,721s), Kvyat
(@31,739s), Raikkonen (@34,729), Alonso (@35,217s) and Sainz (@41,464s).
Verstappen pits – from 6th - re-joins 14th.
Vettel takes Rosberg for 2nd position – an awesome move
in the DRS zone!
/ Vettel gap is now @7,1s.
(Pit Lane time: 24,781s. Pit-stop time: 3,1s).
– re-joins 15th.
– and retires the car.
Hamilton’s rear tyres are dropping off (degradation).
takes Ricciardo for 10th position – another good move!
The Red Bulls
are struggling with their brakes: the brakes are close to overheating,
and plumes of brake dust are visible in certain corners.
also suffering from high tyre degradation.
The Hamilton / Vettel gap has shrunk to @1,6s.
Vettel is hunting down the race leader.
takes Hulkenberg for 9th position.
– from 1st - re-joins 3rd.
(Pit Lane time: 24,595s. Pit-stop time: 3,1s).
near the back of the grid, Raikkonen has now moved up to 6th position.
Hulkenberg is coming under pressure from the Red Bull duo of Ricciardo
Bottas pits – from 4th - re-joins 9th.
is ordered by his team to let Kvyat pass him, and he duly obliges.
hits Kvyat, as the the latter attempts to pass him – resulting
in a spin.
Rosberg pits – from 3rd - re-joins 4th.
(Pit Lane time: 24,574s. Pit-stop time: 3,0s).
the fastest lap: 1:44:017
Ricciardo is racing with Hulkenberg – and takes him for
Rosberg is catching Raikkonen – the Ferrari’s tyres
the fastest lap: 1:43:976
between Hulkenberg and Kvyat is under investigation by the race
Raikkonen for 3rd position.
Sainz for 5th position.
Verstappen takes Sainz for 6th position.
on Lap 30 is as follows:
Vettel leads, followed by Hamilton (@20,315s), Rosberg (@36,891s),
Raikkonen (@33,758s), Massa (@55,405s), Verstappen (@53,179s),
Sainz (@56,155s), Bottas (@56,694s), Ricciardo (68,349s) and Hulkenberg
in 10th position, is holding up a long train of cars behind him.
Hulkenberg and Perez are having a great scrap!
Perez make contact and Grosjean spins off the track – he
recovers the car, and the venerable Frenchman mutters his displeasure
over the team radio – as only he can.
At this stage
of the race, the race leaders will need to pit again.
/ Perez incident is under investigation by the race stewards:
causing a collision.
The Vettel / Hamilton gap is now @16,8s.
– from 8th - re-joins 13th.
(Pit Lane time: 25,165s. Pit-stop time: 3,7s).
is given a 10 second penalty for causing a collision.
In my opinion it was a racing incident, and he should not have
Perez is given a 10 second penalty for causing a collision.
Verstappen for 6th position – a great duel between these
two young guns.
Raikkonen pits – from 4th - re-joins 7th.
(Pit Lane time: 24,653s. Pit-stop time: 2,5s).
pits – from 9th - re-joins 12th.
(Pit Lane time: 25,393s. Pit-stop time: 3,8s).
– from 11th - re-joins 14th.
(Pit Lane time: 25,846s. Pit-stop time: 4,0s).
from 10th - re-joins 16th.
A slow stationary time of @13,8s as he serves his 10 second penalty.
Raikkonen takes Verstappen for 6th position – great move!
Vettel pits – from 1st - re-joins 2nd.
(Pit Lane time: 25,092s. Pit-stop time: 3,0s).
Hamilton pits – from 1st - re-joins 3rd.
(Pit Lane time: 24,179s. Pit-stop time: 2,7s).
Massa pits – from 4th - re-joins 7th.
(Pit Lane time: 26,971s. Pit-stop time: 5,2s).
A slow time as the mechanics battle with one of the rear tyres.
The Order on Lap 40 is as follows:
Vettel leads, followed by Rosberg (@4,220s), Hamilton (@9,549s),
Bottas (@24,252s), Raikkonen (@2,263s), Verstappen (@11,581s),
Massa (@6,023s), Sainz (@15,489s), Ricciardo (2,129s) and Kvyat
the fastest lap: 1:43:732
Vettel has his sights set on victory.
Hamilton sets the fastest lap: 1:43:161
He has to try to close the gap to Vettel in this crucial period
of the race.
– from 4th - re-joins 6th.
pits – from 6th - re-joins 8th.
He has a very bad pit entry as he loses the car and skips over
Rosberg pits – from 2nd - re-joins 3rd.
(Pit Lane time: 24,336s. Pit-stop time: 2,8s).
cruising: he appears to have some mechanical issue with his car.
Vettel is in charge, Hamilton is battling his tyres and things
are not going his way. He tells his team over the radio: “Don’t
talk to me during the corners! I almost lost it!” The pressure
– and retires his car.
Grosjean and Hulkenberg are having a great scrap!
the fastest lap: 1:42:062
/ Hamilton gap is now @11,535s.
Vettel is looking good for the win.
All cars have completed their 2 stops, some of them 3 stops.
Verstappen takes Sainz for 7th position – neat move.
pits – and retires his car.
The Order on Lap 50 is as follows:
Vettel leads, followed by Hamilton (@10,087s), Rosberg (@17,427s),
Raikkonen (@50,672s), Massa (@64,672s), Bottas (@66,259s), Verstappen
(@91,416s), Sainz (@94,873s), Ricciardo (99,205s) and Kvyat (@100,697s).
steadily catching Massa.
The Vettel / Hamilton gap is now @10,087s.
Despite his best efforts, Hamilton is unable to significantly
close the gap.
Ricciardo and Kvyat are battling each other for 10th position.
The pair are lapped by Vettel, and for the second race in succession,
Team Red Bull Racing suffers the ignominy of being lapped by the
edging closer to Massa.
There are still some tight duels being fought, despite the fact
that the race is 2 laps away from completion.
The Vettel / Hamilton gap is now @9,757s.
Massa make slight contact going into Turn 1!
Bottas takes Massa for 5th position – awesome move! He nailed
his teammate on the last lap!
takes the win!
A simply sublime victory! Sensational. The prancing horse from
Maranello is back on top!
starters finished the race. Maldonado retired after an incident
at the start. Ericsson crashed out. The McLaren-Honda duo of Alonso
and Button retired their cars after mechanical issues.
Vettel is ecstatic over the team radio as he cruises home: congratulating
the team in Italian. This is a massive victory for Ferrari. It
has been 2 years since they last won a race. Vettel secured the
victory in a time of 1hr 41mins 05,793secs, over a distance of
310,408km with an average speed of 184,224km/h.
In Parc Ferme the unbridled joy is evident as he exits the car.
In the drivers’ room, before they begin the podium ceremony,
Vettel looks tired but happy. It has been an exhausting race.
By contrast Hamilton appears somewhat grumpy.
ceremony is an extremely festive one! The Ferrari crew are overjoyed!
If you ever doubted their commitment during their “lean
patch”, you just had to see how emotional the entire Ferrari
crew were during the podium ceremony. It means that much to them.
Massive. The champagne flies as pure joy is in the air - this
is Formula 1!
Eddie Jordan conducts the on-podium driver interviews. Vettel
is still very emotional and looks as though he may burst into
tears. Eddie asks Vettel about how he feels about Ferrari’s
chances looking ahead this season. Vettel rounds his interview
off by stating: “I don’t really care about the future
right now; tonight I’m going to get pissed!” He is
slightly admonished by Eddie for this last remark, but such is
the moment that one can forgive his enthusiasm.
somewhat subdued during his interview. I think he was still shell-shocked
with the raw pace of the Ferrari. Team mate Rosberg is comical
in parts. During the Melbourne interviews he mentioned something
along the lines of that Ferrari should challenge for a victory
(this remark was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Mercedes were in such
a dominant position that they did not expect anybody to challenge
them anytime soon). Be careful what you wish for…
rumours flying around during the testing season that Ferrari had
upped their game. Rivals teams said that they had noticed an improvement.
One never knows how much to read into these rumours, whether the
teams are being patronising or genuine. During the Melbourne F1
GP this was not evident. Then again Melbourne is a street circuit,
and traditionally Ferrari has never excelled at street circuits.
Their cars prefer fast tracks, where they can utilise all that
Either way, it was a sensational victory for Ferrari. Completely
unexpected. There was no luck or chance involved; they simply
outclassed their rivals with pure pace. Vettel delivered a flawless
performance, and one feels that had Raikkonen not started near
the back of the grid – and suffered a puncture during that
first corner incident – he may well have finished higher
than 4th position. Nobody saw that one coming, least of all the
Mercedes team. Hamilton and Rosberg both delivered solid performances,
but had no answer to the race pace of the Ferrari. Hamilton also
had only one unused set of the option tyres available for the
race. This was a tactical blunder on the team’s behalf,
they probably thought that they would not be pushed hard, and
could therefore get away with it. One feels that their (Mercedes)
swagger will be somewhat less at the next race. Today proved that
they are not invincible, they are only human, and when put under
pressure they can become panicky.
a steady if unspectacular race. A great move from Bottas to snatch
5th position from his teammate Barichello on the last lap!
Red Bull Racing had another dismal showing: not only were they
lapped by the race leader (again), but both their cars were beaten
by their sister team, Torro Rosso. It was another good performance
from young Max Verstappen. He is living up to his billing as being
a very good driver. His teammate Carlos Sainz also performed well,
for the second race in succession.
was steady but off the pace: they seem to be going for reliability
as opposed to a fast race strategy – keeping their cars
out for longer between stops. This doesn’t really help when
your drivers are battling to maintain their positions as their
tyres are worn.
another disappointing race. Maldonado had to retire after his
car was damaged at the start. Grosjean battled gamely, but appeared
off the pace and got involved in a few racing incidents.
while they had to retire both cars with mechanical issues, keeps
on improving. Their speed was better this race. They are still
completely off the pace of the race leaders, but if they continue
improving like this, then they should be able to challenge for
positions in the mid-field soon. It is very pleasing to see that
despite their current tribulations, Jenson Button maintains an
upbeat and positive attitude.
This was a
sensational race. There was action aplenty, some great overtaking
manoeuvres. The circuit looked stunning, even the weather played
ball: the threatened rain never materialised. Ferrari showed Mercedes
that they will not have it all their own way this season. I expect
Williams and one or two other teams to improve too. This all augurs
well for F1: close, hotly contested racing is exactly what the
millions of motorsport fans around the world want to see.
The next race is the Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai, on the 12th
April 2015. The Shanghai track has a bit of everything: fast straights,
fast corners, slower corners and combinations of corners; lots
of fast acceleration coupled with heavy braking.
Hopefully by then, the Manor-Marussia team will have sorted out
their issues, and we will see a full grid of 20 cars take to the
by Mark Batchelder, Road and Race’s F1 Connoisseur
– F1 CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVER STANDINGS:
1. Lewis Hamilton 43
2. Sebastian Vettel 40
3. Nico Rosberg 33
4. Felipe Massa 20
5. Kimi Raikkonen 12
6. Felipe Nasr 10
7. Valteri Bottas 10
8. Daniel Ricciardo 9
9. Nico Hulkenberg 6
10. Max Verstappen 6
– F1 CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS:
1. Mercedes 76
2. Ferrari 56
3. Williams-Mercedes 30
4. Sauber-Ferrari 14
5. Torro Rosso 12
6. RBR-Racing 11
7. Force India 7
8. McLaren-Honda 0
9. Lotus-Renault 0
10. Manor-Marussia 0
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