Mercedes continued to steamroll the competition as Hamilton led home Nico Rosberg for a faultless 1-2. Be prepared to see that sentence a lot this season.
While the story at the top was largely uneventful, the Malaysian Grand Prix So what else is there to talk about as the F1 circus leaves Sepang?
Ricciardo’s Torment Continues
Two races, two DNFs. The motorsport gods do not like Daniel Ricciardo.
Compounding on his voided second-place in Australia, Ricciardo had arguably one of the most brutal four-minute stretches in F1 history. It started on lap 41, when his supposedly-final pit stop was buggered by a miscommunication that saw him drive off without his front left tyre properly fitted. After being pushed back up the pit lane to fix the error, Ricciardo came out to find himself lapped by Hamilton. Previously in a battle for 4th with Fernando Alonso, the Aussie was now dead last. Then, two laps later his front wing decided it had had enough of that whole ‘being attached to the rest of the car’ thing and failed along the pit straight. Tearing his fresh right front tyre to shreds, his hopes of finishing the race would follow soon after, leaving the Red Bull newcomer still without a championship point.
The bright side is Ricciardo has continued to acquit himself well in his time on track. His out-qualification of Sebastian Vettel two weeks prior was perhaps topped this week with an epic dash off the line that was the highlight of the race’s opening stages, passing Vettel and Alonso in the first three corners to maneuver his way up to third. At the very least he continues to put pressure on his team-mate, with the order being given on lap 12 for “default 13” (#1 is Vettel, while Ricciardo sports #3 – shades of multi 21 anyone?) and again on lap 18 to fall back from the German. You have to be doing something right to make Christian Horner nervous for his golden boy, especially that early in a race.
Giving Nico Hülkenberg His Due
Ah, Nico Hülkenberg. If there’s anyone on the grid besides Kobayashi who deserves your support it’s this guy. Being the only German on the grid without a race win under his belt means he’s perpetually in the shadow of Rosberg and Vettel, but the dude can flat out drive. His 5th-place performance on Sunday was as good as anyone’s, as he continues to get the best out of inferior machinery. At 26, he still has time on his side, but there’s a concern this guy with such obvious talent could fall through the cracks as the top-flight teams are either already set for the future or will look for someone younger when the Raikkonen/Alonso/Button generation passes. If any of these team principals have the chance and half a brain, I certainly hope that’s not the case.
Benny Cumberbatch on the Podium? Sure, why not?
I would guess they got Sherlock Holmes to do the podium interviews because they had no one with local ties who had enough international recognition to warrant the job (seriously, who could they put out there? The head of Malaysia Airlines?). But part of me hopes this is the start of a new trend of having well-meaning but semi-clueless celebrities conduct these lame ass interviews (case in point: Nico Rosberg pandering to the crowd that they could be proud of ‘their company’ Pertronas for providing the fuel is both super lame and about as logical as blaming the Holocaust on Hugo Boss because they supplied uniforms to the SS). We need Bill Murray to get to the bottom of Red Bull’s fuel-flow issues, Salma Hayek to find out about tyre strategy, or Justin Bieber to ask Sebastian Vettel why he’s such a dickhead. Hopefully Cumberbatch’s appearance is a sign this is exactly what’s about to happen. Fingers crossed!
Next up: the F1 circus heads to Bahrain, where the government is less democratic than a Red Bull driver meeting.