Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

Kimi Räikkönen & Sebastian Vettel

sunnuntai 2. lokakuuta 2016

Malaysia GP: Dramatic engine failure for Hamilton!

As previous years have shown, the opening lap in Malaysia has usually been quite eventful. So was the case also this weekend. Already before the start Williams´ Massa had an electrical issue with his FW38, and the Brazilian was unable to start for the formation lap. The start to the race was quite dramatic; Hamilton maintained his lead, but behind the Briton there was a tight battle for positions between his teammate Rosberg, Red Bull´s Verstappen and Ferrari´s Vettel. Going into Turn 1 Sebastian was fully concentrated on his battle with Verstappen; he braked very late -too late-, which was too optimistic. Sebastian couldn´t avoid hitting Rosberg, who was in the outside ahead of him going into Turn 1. The contact made Rosberg spin and destroyed Sebastian´s front suspension. Sebastian´s race was over, already before it actually got started! Rosberg was able to continue, but he dropped down to the back of the pack. Sebastian was taken into investigation for causing a collision, but so far there hasn´t been any penalties. Unfortunately this wasn´t the first mistake Sebastian has made this year.

Hamilton was leading the race, with Red Bull´s Ricciardo second and Verstappen third. Force India´s Perez had managed to get past Kimi, which was a bit of a surprise to me. A couple of laps later Kimi managed to take his fourth place back from the Mexican. Meanwhile Rosberg was aggressively and determinedly making his way through the field. Both Rosberg and Verstappen pitted already on lap 9; Rosberg opted for a fresh set of orange-marked hard tyres, whereas Verstappen´s choice was a fresh set of soft tyres. On lap 17 Rosberg made an overtaking move on Sauber´s Ericsson and jumped already 7th!

On lap 19 Verstappen had closed the gap to Kimi on his fresher tyres. There was no battle, however, as Kimi drove into the pits -for a fresh set of hard tyres. Hamilton pitted also on the very same lap -with a similar tyre choice. Ricciardo in his Red Bull pitted a lap later; the Australian also opted for the hard Pirellis. So Verstappen was the only top driver to have a different tyre strategy. This made the race extremely interesting. Would it be possible to make the race on a one-stop strategy?

On lap 27 Verstappen pitted for the second time -this time for a fresh set of hard Pirellis. Some four laps later Rosberg, too pitted for a similar tyre choice to Verstappen´s. Kimi in his SF16-H pitted a lap later -for hard compound as well. The Iceman re-joined the track right ahead of Rosberg, but the German seemed absolutely determined to get past the Finn. The fight for P4 was definitely on. Simultaneously there was a hair-raising battle between the Red Bull teammates. Young Verstappen seemed stubborn to get past the "smiling avenger", but Ricciardo had no intension to let his teammate through. It seems that Verstappen has learned something from the previous races, as the battle was wheel-banging but fair -no "crazy" moves this time.

Rosberg put serious pressure on the Iceman, who was driving flat out. Rosberg had clearly decided to get past by any means necessary, which lead to a questionable overtaking move. Rosberg "dived" into the inside and ended up hitting Kimi. Luckily there was no puncture, but the floor of Kimi´s SF16-H got damaged. Rosberg was taken into investigation by the stewards for causing a collision, and he was given a 10-second time penalty. That was a start for Kimi´s battle against time; the Iceman´s mission was not to let Rosberg more than 10 seconds away from him. That turned out to be not an easy task...

Hamilton had over a 10-second gap to Ricciardo in the lead, and it seemed as if the Briton was cruising to victory. All of a sudden something very unexpected happened on lap 41; Hamilton faced an engine failure with huge flames coming from the back of his car! Hamilton´s race was over, and the Briton had to wave goodbye for the 25 points. Virtual safety car was deployed. Kimi pitted alongside the Red Bull duo and Rosberg; all of them opted for a fresh set of soft tyres for the last stint.

With 12 laps to go, Ricciardo was leading the race with teammate Verstappen second. Unbelievable but true, Red Bull was having a double lead in the race! Max was right at his teammate´s tail, but the "flying Dutchman" kept his head cool and didn´t try anything stupid. Rosberg was third and did everything he could to increase the gap to Kimi over 10 seconds. But there was nothing Kimi could do; Rosberg got some extra power for a couple of laps and it was enough to stretch the gap into over 10 seconds. So although Rosberg got a penalty for causing a collision, there wasn´t one at the end of the day, as Nico was still able to make it on the podium. Kimi drove a fantastic race and gave everything he could, but Ferrari was lacking speed. P4 was the maximum result today. Williams´ Bottas finished 5th and showed, that a one-stop strategy was possible in Malaysia. Perez finished 6th, Alonso 7th, Hulkenberg 8th, Button 9th and Renault´s Palmer completed the top ten. Good points especially for McLaren.

The podium ceremony was utterly hilarious. Ricciardo really knows how to put up a good show! To celebrate his victory, he didn´t only do a shoey, but got teammate Verstappen, Team Principal Horner and even Rosberg involved in it, too! I have to say I felt a bit sorry for Verstappen, who had to drink sparkling wine from his teammate´s racing boot! ;) So now Rosberg has a 23-point lead in the drivers´ championship standings. Hamilton has had so many technical issues with his power unit this year... But who  knows what will happen in Japan next week!

Sebastian Vettel has been in my thoughts a lot lately. He has just been given two penalty points and a 3-place grid penalty for Japan next week! He isn´t known for making mistakes, but this year there has been quite a few of them. If I´m asked, he should have admitted honestly, that the collision today was his fault and not to blame Rosberg for getting involved with his battle with Verstappen. But in spite of all the mistakes, I support Sebastian from all my heart. I believe in him, and I know he can turn these setbacks into success. Ferrari as a team is struggling too with their pace and performance, as Red Bull has clearly taken the upper hand in the battle for the second place in the constructors´ standings. But in spite of difficulties the fans are always there. Sebastian, Kimi and the whole Ferrari team are always in my heart!

P.S. You´re welcome to read my thoughts also here:

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