Lewis Hamilton led the 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix from flag-to-flag Sunday, helping to put the Mercedes AMG Petronas team further into the lead in the Constructor’s Championship. Hamilton had a strong start to the race, and shaved off seconds from his lap time with nearly every circuit of the Sepang track.
Hamilton’s strong finish was complimented by a second place result from teammate Nico Rosberg, who had fellow German and last year’s World Champion Sebastian Vettel breathing down his neck for the majority of the race. The finish was the first Mercedes one-two result in Formula one since the early days of the sport in 1955.
Apart from a couple of collisions soon after the green flag dropped, the grand prix was rather uneventful. Marussia’s Jules Bianchi was clipped by Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne early on in the race, causing damage to the Frenchman’s car. The damage caused Bianchi to hit Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus at Turn 4, removing Maldonado from the race immediately. Bianchi carried on but retired shortly after.
McLaren newcomer and F1 rookie Kevin Magnussen and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen also made contact on Lap 4 after Raikkonen narrowed the gap on the Dane and clipped part of his front wing. The incident left Raikkonen with a punctured left rear tire and put him out of top contention for the remainder of the race, finishing 12th overall after a sixth-place starting position on the grid. Race stewards said Magnussen was at fault for the mishap, issuing a five-second stop-go penalty to the rookie who ended up ninth overall.
Of all teams though, Red Bull Racing had the most unpredictable weekend. The team said they were six-weeks behind the other teams after pre-season testing in Jerez due to troubles with the Renault-sourced engines. If they are still behind they aren’t showing it, with Vettel piloting his RB10 to a third place finish overall. Teammate Daniel Ricciardo looked comfortable in fourth position until the pit crew released him before his left front tire was fully fastened during a pit stop on Lap 42. He attempted to drive off, realized the tire was only partially on while still in the pits and had his car rolled back to the pit box. Stewards handed him a 10-second stop-go penalty during the race for unsafe release and more problems with the car saw him retire on Lap 49. Riccardo also received a 10-position grid penalty for the next race in Bahrain.
Things looked similar to last year at the Scuderia, with Fernando Alonso coming in a mediocre fourth place after a late overtake on Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg. Alonso vocalized to media post-race what needs to improve at Ferrari if the team hopes to keep up with its rivals at Mercedes and Red Bull this season, saying he felt slow and not noncompetitive all race.
Following the second race of the season, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg retains first place in the driver’s championship with 43 points. Hamilton rockets into second place with 24 points, narrowly edging out Alonso with 24 points followed by Button with 23 and Magnussen with 20.
Mercedes AMG Petronas continues to lead the Constructor’s Championship with 68 points, followed by McLaren with 43 and Ferrari with 30. All the teams will be looking to keep up with frontrunner Mercedes when the Bahrain Grand Prix kicks off next weekend.