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Malaysian Grand Prix


The Malaysian Grand Prix has given us some great races over the recent years, whether they have been filled with rain, team orders or just great racing is another matter but as you can see by looking back at the best bits of the last few races it has never failed to offer something a bit different and unpredictable.

This Grand Prix weekend though started more predictably than last year, with clear favourites at the moment, Mercedes, dominating the Free Practice sessions by topping the timesheets of every single session. Lewis Hamilton started off the weekend by topping FP1 while his teammate took over for the remaining Free Practice session to top both of them, giving him momentum going into qualifying.

 

 

Qualifying

Vettel and Red Bull Racing got off to a worrying start to Q1, when car issues forced them to have to restarts the whole car to try and clear any issues to give him trouble free running. There was trouble elsewhere on the grid aswell, as Marcus Ericsson struggled with his first experience of a F1 car in wet conditions, resulting in him losing the car through turn 3 as it snapped back across the gravel before finally coming to rest after sliding back onto the circuit. That brought an end to Q1 although it didn't look like anyone had been set to go quicker anyway.

Q2 saw more of the same as more cars were damaged, particularly those of Kyvat and Alonso, after a coming together into turn 9 saw Alonso come out worse with a broken front left track rod giving him heavy steering through left hand turns and light steering through the right hadn corners on the circuit.

One of the unfortunate sights of Q2 was the elimination of both the Williams cars, after showing strong form in Australia I think that everyone would have liked to see them able to maintain it coming into Malaysia, hopefully heading towards the sharper end of the grid to recapture their past winning form. This was not to be in Malaysia though, as Massa qualified 13th and Bottas 15th-although he was given a 3 place grid penalty for impeding Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo which landed him 18th for the starting grid.

Going into Q3 and judging by the free practice pace and Australia pace, everyone expected it to be a Mercedes front row lock out, bar any tech issues or a sensational performance from one of the other 8 Q3 drivers. It was still wet and only get wetter. The rain didn't stop which reduced the power adnvatage the Mercedes powered cars have which brought one Sebastian Vettel back into play. The Red Bull is a very sleek looking car and appears to have a slight aerodynamic advatnage over the Mercedes even if the Mercedes is the best overall package as it currently stands. Vettel put the car 2nd on the grid, only 0.055s behind Hamilton. Button made a uncharacteristic mistake in tyre choice which saw him get no further than 10th through the session after he opted to go out on inters for the whole session rather than the full wet tyre. His fellow countryman on the other hand got it just right, getting laps in early on the wet tyres to snatch pole position, his second of the season, 33 in his career. On paper Red Bull looked closer to the Mercedes this weekend but Hamilton has been quoted after the weekend saying his pole lap was just his banker lap, and he still had more in the tank.