Malaysian Grand Prix – The Race

The first 1-2 by the Mercedes factory team since 1955 

The downside about live-blogging as I’ve discovered is that you pretty much have to post live or ‘almost live’. Which could be just about stretched to the day after the race. But not, erm, 6 whole days after the race when the Malaysian Grand Prix is but a distant speck on the consciousness and qualifying for the next race is [embarrassed face] ACTUALLY TODAY.

When I mentioned the whole timing conundrum to the husband this morning, he helpfully suggested I might want to try a different approach to blogging which I think is code for ‘keep it short’ or it is entirely possible he wasn’t actually listening. Not a whole lot of listening goes on in Power Towers.

Epic fail but at least I’ve posted before the start of qualifying for the next race

Without giving too much away (but unless you’d been living in deepest darkest Patagonia, everyone knows that Lewis Hamilton won), I think there may come a a point in the season when everyone (despite themselves) will slightly rejoice at seeing Vettel win a race. Because it will mean we won’t have had another Mercedes processionmasterclass. Hashtag irony etc. Well I’m thinking of real F1 fans here as opposed to some segments of the Great British Media who will revel in Lewis’s domination (which in no way of course will resemble Vettel’s ‘boring domination that was damaging for the sport’). Unless of course Nico dominates. In which case, see Vettel.
And who could forget the Malaysian Grand Prix last year. The race that gave us Multi 21 and spawned a million t-shirts and ‘hilarious’ (ie. not really) internet jokes. What larks could Sepang 2014 have in store for us?

Really who would have bought one of these?
I failed totally to watch any build-up so moving on quickly to the race. It was a blistering start from Lewis and especially Nico Rosberg who brilliantly leapfrogged Vettel into second! For reasons I can’t quite explain, I don’t think Vettel massively rates Rosberg so that overtake gave me enormous pleasure. And in a do-not-readjust-your-set-moment Ricciardo then passed Sebastian Vettel. Ricciardo is really proving me wrong but in an entirely brilliant way.

The very lively start to the Malaysian GP

Just as I mentally noted what a clean start everyone had off the line, Bianchi and Maldonaldo had a coming together down the back of the field as did Magnussen and Kimi while scrapping it out for 7th. That turned out to be very costly for Kimi who started dropping places at a rate of knots and had to come into the pits to sort out a problem with his right rear tyre. Magnussen’s car didn’t come off much better and he started falling back down the field. Meanwhile normal service was resumed as Vettel deployed his DRS to retake Ricciardo for 3rdplace.
F1 Bingo Alert (I must must must compile a bingo sheet – I’m going to add it onto my ‘to do’ list in Center Parcs in one of my small pockets of ‘me time’). We had our first 5 second stop-go penalty of 2014 – the grand honour went to Jules Bianchi for the Maldonado incident. No consolation at all to poor old Maldonado who had to retire shortly after. What a wretched season he is having (sadly I’ll probably be able to cut and paste this statement for the rest of his 2014 season).
Malaysia is the race that keeps on giving in terms of Team-Mate Wars. Massa was merrily venting on the radio about Bottas clattering into him. Bottas was told to hold station behind Massa until he (Massa) got past Magnussen. Bottas was clearly not amused and pointed out he had more pace. But in the true traditions of Malayisa, we had the annual unveiling of a New Code from those zany Red Bull guys – this year it was all about Default 13. Never did find out what it meant. Magnussen was next in line to be slapped with a 5 second stop-go penalty for the Raikkonen incident. Big Ronnie D wouldn’t be happy. Mind you he never is.

We need to talk about Kevin
Already this breathless dizzying start (well it was vaguely eventful) had brought us up to The First Pitstop Window. Alonso and Ricciardo pitted on the same lap and rejoined side by side with Ricciardo showing real cajones to take the position from Alonso. Lewis Hamilton pitted on lap 15 which meant that the Hulk briefly led yet another Grand Prix. All hail the Hulk – The Most Underrated Driver in F1 History. We were told there was a problem with Ricciardo’s car. Of course there flaming well was. Apologies that was a bit Alf Stewart. The FIA sensor was broken and so he was driving to a pre-agreed calculation which is programmed into the beeps. Or something like that.
Hamilton had now opened up a huge lead and it was possible that this race may have entered a Boring Phase as my notes slightly thinned out at this point.  All credit to the Malaysian Grand Prix producers who did show us every single scrap down the back of the field. Maybe there was no ‘home favourite’ to track relentlessly but who in their right mind wants the cameras rigidly fixed on one driver for the whole race (à la Hockenheim in the early 00s, although I feel quite teary thinking of those times now).

Schumacher triumphant in Hockenheim in 2004

Half-way point leaderboard:
1.     Hamilton
2.     Rosberg
3.     Vettel
4.     Ricciardo
5.     Hulkenberg in a Force India – Pointing out the freaking obvious but the only cars ahead of Hulkenberg were the two Mercedes and the two Red Bulls. That is pretty freaking impressive.
6.     Alonso
We had now entered The Second Pitstop Window. Alonso and his race nemesis (he always seems to have one nemesis every race) Ricciardo were still having a very close battle out on track.
RAIN ALERT! Finally a sign of deliverance that the Boring Phase of the race might come to an end. Crofty didn’t want rain as the race was shaping up to be ‘a great tactical battle’. Really? Or will Mercedes just win? Vettel pitted with the usual Red Bull clinical precision. Rosberg pitted and emerged a hair’s breadth ahead of Vettel. Well played Team Mercedes. One more lap and Rosberg would have been toast. But still 22 laps to go.
In other random incidental news, Adrian Sutil inconsiderately came to a halt on the side of the track and we had news from Kimi’s cockpit (as rare as hen’s teeth) that it was raining on the back of the circuit. Vettel was now berating his team over the radio “speak up when you talk, speak up!”. I would be so tempted to say back “just shut up and start closing the gap on Rosberg”.
Remember the McLaren Pitstop Disastometer of the 2012 season? I think the mantle has well and truly passed to Red Bull but only if it is a Ricciardo pitstop. Natch. He had his race destroyed in 20 seconds by his team failing to put the front left tyre on properly.  Guys, this is like on Page 1 of the Pitstop Manual. He came to a screeching standstill in the pitlane and had to have his car pushed back by the Red bull mechanics to his grid spot. And then something else went wrong in Daniel Ricciardo’s car. His front wing was hanging off and shredding bits all over the track. And shortly afterwards he succumbed to the inevitable and retired from the race. Gutted for him.

The aftermath of Ricciardo’s disastrous pitstop
TEN LAPS TO GO KLAXON. Top 6: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Button. And a feisty old battle was developing between Button and Massa for 6thplace with a superb display of defensive driving by Button to keep Massa at bay. Alonso was at this stage the fastest man out on track and chowing his way into the Hulk’s lead. Vettel came into the pits with 6 laps to go and was warned to stay off the kerbs to avoid a repeat of Ricciardo’s problem. Meanwhile Kimi was battling it out with Grosjean further down the field. Its fair to say his Ferrari career part 2 hasn’t exactly re-ignited. Yet.
Scandal of scandals – Williams (who never used to do this kind of thing) were issuing team orders as if they were…ahem…Ferrari. Massa was ordered to let Bottas through. Poor Felipe – it must feel like Groundhog Day. But try as he may, Bottas couldn’t get past his team-mate despite increasingly frenetic orders to Massa to let him past.

The Williams cars fighting tooth and nail for position (and what pray is wrong with that?)

And with 3 laps to go Alonso put a brilliant sequence of moves on the Hulk and all those Malaysian locals of Spanish and Italian extraction (arf) in the grandstands went all kinds of crazy. Mention must be made of Grosjean who in the relatively diabonical Lotus was STILL keeping Kimi Raikkonen at bay. Penny for them, Luca di Montezemolo.
It couldn’t have been closer between the two Williams cars. Claire Williams must have been going spare in the garage. Felipe was refusing point blank to let Bottas past. But then again why should he? Its race no.2 of the season for crying out loud and by no means was it guaranteed that Bottas would catch the next car up the field (Button) given the dog’s dinner he was making of passing his team-mate.
And with no further ado, Lewis Hamilton crossed the chequered flag first and Rosberg made it a Mercedes 1-2. All I was waiting to see was which Williams car would cross the line first. It was…..drum roll…..MASSA! Well done that man for ignoring the quite frankly daft team orders.

Lewis and Nico – no far no trouble in paradise

So here are the results from the Malaysian Grand Prix 2014:
1.     Hamilton – Imperious drive from start to finish.
2.     Rosberg – and Nico made it the perfect weekend for Mercedes.
3.     Vettel – Podium
4.     Alonso – Drove the wheels off that car…but still Ferrari aren’t quite close enough.
5.     HULKENBERG – Simply superb (lest we forget IN A FORCE INDIA).
6.     Button – A fine drive demonstrating all his years of experience.
7.     Massa – Well bowled Felipe.
8.     Bottas – Word to the wise, if you say you are faster than your team-mate then prove it and pass him.
9.     Magnussen – Not quite as sensational a race as Australia but still points on the board.
10.  Kvyat – This guy is One To Watch.

Benedict Cumberbatch interviewing Lewis Hamilton – just TV gold

And OMFG none other than BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH did the podium interviews. This might be the greatest (non-racing) moment in Formula 1 IN LIKE THE HISTORY OF FOREVER. Someone give Bernie a knighthood please. Passes out.


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