Grand Prix Review: Sepang, Round 2

Qualifying

 A spectacular lights show was looming over the horizon on Saturday, slowly eclipsing the much needed light with a white wall of torrential rain, steadily approaching Sepang. A dark curtain of cloud hung over the track and kept the paddock guessing when the heavens were going to open up.

GPR22

Q1 held a dry start to the surprise of many, and the lights went green with all cars but one, ready to go to track. Will Stevens’s Marussia/Manor had technical faults that could not be rectified and he had to abandon hope of starting his second grand prix in Formula One.

Fernando Alonso was squeezed out by his teammate, Jenson Button. The two qualified 16th and 17th with Roberto Mehri finishing 4 tenths outside of the 107% qualifying rule. With the Stewards permission he was given the green light to race.

Lewis Hamilton only just edged out Sebastien Vettel to claim pole, as an aggravated Rosberg tucked up third in line. It was a frustrating day for Raikkonen as an oblivious Marcus Ericsson blocked Kimi’s efforts of a fast lap. He started 11th. By the time he had a chance to set another lap, the rain began to come down. It poured so hard in fact, that Q3 was delayed by 15 minutes. In typical Malaysia fashion, the track dried up well enough to slip on some intermediates by the time the last qualifying session started.

The rest of the grid was filled up as follows:

P No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.269 1:41.517 1:49.834 13
2 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:39.814 1:39.632 1:49.908 13
3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.374 1:39.377 1:50.299 13
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:40.504 1:41.085 1:51.541 16
5 26 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull Racing 1:40.546 1:41.665 1:51.951 16
6 33 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:40.793 1:41.430 1:51.981 16
7 19 Felipe Massa Williams 1:40.543 1:41.230 1:52.473 17
8 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:40.303 1:41.209 1:52.981 18
9 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:40.249 1:40.650 1:53.179 14
10 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:40.340 1:41.748 1:53.261 18
11 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.415 1:42.173 7
12 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:40.361 1:42.198 11
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:40.830 1:43.023 9
14 11 Sergio Perez Force India 1:41.036 1:43.469 11
15 55 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:39.814 1:43.701 9
16 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:41.308 7
17 22 Jenson Button McLaren 1:41.636 8
18 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:41.746 8
98 Roberto Merhi Marussia 1:46.677 7
Q1 107% Time 1:46.217

GPR21

Race Day

Go to any pub, sport centre, family barbeque or playground and make a bet with your friend on who will win the next Grand Prix. Odds are bets will be on a certain Mercedes team. It doesn’t take much to know that the sport we all love has been tinted with shades of silver and light emerald green, distinctive of the Mercedes AMG works team. F1 has become a predictable show. People have become disillusioned over the theatre value that Formula One provides. Before the epoch of Mercedes, we had a German dominance of another kind. A Germanic driver by the name of Sebastien Vettel won four championships in a row, sitting behind the wheel of his Austrian/Milton Keynes Red Bull. Success is a funny thing. People love it, but have too much, and you become unpopular, or even hated. Sebastien was both of those, and it’s only a matter of time before this happens again in the Mercedes era.

After spending his 7th season of F1 in the doldrums, Vettel became a faded light in F1’s glossy showbiz. He didn’t win. Now, the rebirth of his career has come at Ferrari, he has taken the form of not just Maranello’s, but Formula One’s new prodigy. He is the knight in shining crimson armour, looking to liberate F1 once again, and he is now needed more than ever. Fairly ironic, isn’t it? Step aside Daniel Ricciardo, its Vettel time again. This last weekend he proved that Mercedes are beatable and he stormed to victory and took a shock win in Malaysia.

Ferrari raced the perfect all-round race this last weekend. Though Raikkonen was unlucky not to qualify in the top ten, he still finished fourth. Strategy, smooth pit stops and above all, a steady calmness and discipline was the path that led the Scuderia to success once again.

Not so calm behind him came Lewis Hamilton, beaten by 8.569s. A few meters down the road finished Rosberg in third to fill the lowest step of the podium.

Kimi Raikkonen escaped collision with his new least favourite person, Marcus Ericsson, and limped back to the pits with an injured Ferrari. His flat tyre was changed and he was off again, chopping his way through the thick of the midfield and back up front to finish fourth.

His Finnish compatriot Valtteri Bottas, and ex-teammate Felipe Massa, finished behind him in fifth and sixth respectively. Williams’s tyre choice and strategy hampered their race and is admittedly off their 2014 standards.

Following the Williams duo came both STR cars, a welcomed surprise by many, with slightly less sophisticated DNA and notably less success, they finished ahead of their father team, Red Bull. Verstappen was most impressive by becoming the youngest ever point scorer in Formula One.

Both Red Bulls were lapped once and took up the last two point scoring positions after the close of race. Helmet Marko and Christian Horner seem to be puzzled over the performance of their car and their tattered relationship with Renault seems to be deluding them from the main prize of winning.

Lotus suffered the loss of Pastor Maldonado whilst Grosjean finished without points. Joining them on a disappointed bench was likes of both Force India cars, both Saubers, a Marussia/Manor and let us not forget, the McLaren boys.

They claim to have improved their performance and that the car and engine is making good strides forward, but Jenson Button did one worse this week and failed to finish the race, unlike his efforts in Australia. Fernando Alonso returned this weekend from injury, but had a race even worse than what any fan could have hoped for. His luck and choice of teams is diabolical. On his walks in the pit lane over the weekend he often found himself wondering passed the Ferrari den, where a reinvented Scuderia is racking up the points, podiums and now wins. It is surprising and at a loss that the bitter taste of his choice to return to McLaren has come with no success and no guarantee of it in the near future. He is well into the second half of his career and he appears to be yet another step back in a regressive journey where his hopes of winning another championship have been reduced yet again. The Spaniard is being paid a fortune this year, and should perhaps think of investing his money into a crystal ball that works.

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Race Results:

1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL GER FERRARI 1:41:05.793 25
2 LEWIS HAMILTON GBR MERCEDES +8.569s 18
3 NICO ROSBERG GER MERCEDES +12.31s 15
4 KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN FIN FERRARI +53.822s 12
5 VALTTERI BOTTAS FIN WILLIAMS +70.409s 10
6 FELIPE MASSA BRA WILLIAMS +73.586s 8
7 MAX VERSTAPPEN NED TORO ROSSO +97.762s 6
8 CARLOS SAINZ ESP TORO ROSSO +1 lap 4
9 DANIIL KVYAT RUS RED BULL +1 lap 2
10 DANIEL RICCIARDO AUS RED BULL +1 lap 1
11 ROMAIN GROSJEAN FRA LOTUS +1 lap 0
12 FELIPE NASR BRA SAUBER +1 lap 0
13 SERGIO PEREZ MEX FORCE INDIA +1 lap 0
14 NICO HULKENBERG GER FORCE INDIA +1 lap 0
15 ROBERTO MERHI ESP MARUSSIA +3 laps 0
RT PASTOR MALDONADO VEN LOTUS DNF 0
RT JENSON BUTTON GBR MCLAREN DNF 0
RT FERNANDO ALONSO ESP MCLAREN DNF 0
RT MARCUS ERICSSON SWE SAUBER DNF 0

***Fastest lap – Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1m 42.062s (lap 43)

Dane Hansen

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About dphansen24

I am an avid freelance Formula 1 writer and blogger. My writings are diverse and range from historical insights, to thorough and exciting analysis of the modern era and the topics that come with it. I am also able to take in requests from readers that wish to gain vision into particular stories. All are welcome. I encourage constructive criticism and conversation in comments or via email. My passion for the world’s fastest show consumes my daily efforts and I am always enthused to write about the sport I love most. Even as a pundit, I too have a curiosity and am always ready to learn more about an ever expanding sport.

Posted on March 30, 2015, in Grand Prix in Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    What do you think will happen in Shanghai? Will the Silver Arrows fight back or do you think Ferrari can back up their performance in Malaysia?

    • Hey there ! Well, it looks as though Mercedes will once again have the upper hand. Ferrari are worried that the cooler conditions could inhibit their progress this weekend. But I would not by any means count them out! If you enjoy what this page has to offer please subscribe or follow it! Posts are short and sharp and a regular on the weekly !

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