Notebook – Malaysian Grand Prix – Review

Features This Grand Prix

Max Verstappen has dominated a fight with Mercedes Lewis Hamilton to take the second win of his career in the Malaysian Grand Prix. While Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel came from the back to finish fourth.

Victory for Verstappen

Max Verstappen drove a brilliant race after he overtook Lewis Hamilton on lap four. We know that Verstappen is a risk taker and he admitted that he took “extra risk” when he was fighting for the lead of the race because he knew Hamilton had more to lose.

On the fourth lap of the race, the Dutchman dived down the inside of Hamilton at turn one before he just sailed off into the sunset and finished the race almost thirteen seconds clear of Hamilton. Last night Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo suggested that other drivers could take advantage from the championship leader playing it safe.

Verstappen said: “I had a good run out of last corner and opted to go for inside. I knew Lewis had more to lose as he was fighting for the championship. I took an extra risk because of it, it was my only chance.”

“Once I was past Lewis, I could focus on pace and look after my tyres. It was pleasing – it was the first time I have had that in my [F1] career. I just had to stay very focused, because [with] the backmarkers you could lose a lot of time.”

The start

Lewis Hamilton gets away cleanly at the front Max Verstappen slots into second as team-mate Daniel Ricciardo gets alongside. But then Valtteri Bottas darts round the outside of the Red Bull’s, stays alongside at Turn One on the outside. But that gives him the inside at Two, but Bottas couldn’t stay with him and releases him into Three.

Also, Stoffel Vandoorne made a great start getting ahead of both the Force India’s, taking Sergio Perez passed Esteban Ocon.

Big problems for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton says that Mercedes has “big problems” to solve after finishing second in the race despite starting from pole. As we said, Hamilton lost out to Max Verstappen at the start of the race.

Though-out the race the Dutchman showed he was was significantly faster once the race started while Vettel showed the Ferrari’s potential by going from last to fourth and beating Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas.

“There is (a fair amount of work still to do) but there’s nothing we can do. It’s the way the car is. I think globally we have not got the best car and we’ve done an exceptional job with what we have. There are some real big problems.”

“But we really need to make sure we rectify them for next year’s car if we’re going to have any chance of fighting both these teams next year when they step up their game”.

Ferrari’s result but overall an omnishambles

Kimi Raikkonen failed to start the race after suffered a battery problem on his way to the grid. Ferrari did try and get him into the race but they were unable to repair his car.

Sebastian Vettel’s race was always going to be about him limiting the damage after he started last and as we already have said he drove a brilliant recovery drive to finish fourth. He had a mega opening lap gaining places.

Then at the first round of stops, he undercut Bottas for fourth place switching to the supersofts. He closed up on Ricciardo but then sd

…But then another disaster

After Vettel took that fourth place during the cool down lap he had a shunt with the Williams of Lance Stroll at Turn Five. Coming out of Four, Vettel tries going round the outside of Stroll who tags the rear of Vettel’s car. On team, radio Stroll accused Vettel of driving into him. This is likely to give Vettel a five-place grid penalty as it’s a gearbox change.

Ocon v Sainz

Esteban Ocon has accused Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz of driving straight into him when they were fighting around the half way point of the race. Ocon had closed up on Sainz and tried to go around the outside of the first corner, leading to contact.

Ocon recovered to tenth while Sainz went onto retire from an unrelated engine issue. After the race Ocon said “I tried to overtake Carlos and, I don’t know what he did, but he just locked up and drove straight into me,” said Ocon.

He added that he felt his race was “ruined” well before that clash, after contact with Felipe Massa on the first lap forced Ocon to pit early with a puncture.

Sainz said “”We obviously were fighting for position and we both braked extremely late into Turn 1 and then he started closing, closing, closing on me and I didn’t have any more steering and we just collided a bit. I think he was already ahead of me so if you are already ahead of me, don’t risk closing on me, especially when we both braked so late.”

Gasly debut

Pierre Gasly debut finished with him taking fourteenth place in the race on what appears to have been a strong debut weekend for the Frenchman. However, he said after the race he was in an uncomfortable seating position, causing him back pain.

“With the seat, I’m not supported enough. It’s not ideal but it’s more like I didn’t feel fully comfortable. It was moving a lot from lap one, especially at high speed all race as well. I’m not inside the seat, I’m moving a lot and it’s not ideal for my back.”

Speaking about his first race in Formula One he said it was “better than he expected” but outlined a number of areas he wants to work on to improve.

“I think that was a positive race it was important to take experience and to finish the race. Looking back at it there are many things I would do differently. Some situations with the blue flags and tyre management. I think we pitted slightly early.”

“Of course as a racing driver you want to push so I went out of the [pit] box and tried to push to undercut the others but I paid it a bit in the end.”

Goodbye Malaysia

Well after nineteen years, around 1,041 laps and eleven different winners its goodbye to Sepang. Over the last two decades, this race has been run in all kinds of conditions. There have been seven different constructors winning here, two very wet races. Moments of brilliance, controversy, and drama, thank you and hopefully we will return in the future.



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.