GP Malesya, gara–30/03/2014
Malaysian GP: Lewis Hamilton takes dominant victory
Lewis Hamilton sparked his 2014 Formula 1 season into life by dominating the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 2008 world champion made up for the disappointment of early retirement from the season-opener in Australia earlier this month by comfortably beating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to victory by 17 seconds at the Sepang circuit.
Melbourne winner Rosberg maintained his position as championship leader by finishing second.
He jumped reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel off the line and successfully repelled both Red Bulls after a massive tank-slapper coming through Turn 3 on the first lap.
He reported struggling with his rear tyres in the early stages and could not keep pace with Hamilton, who eked out an early and decisive lead before racing on to record the 23rd grand prix win of his career.
Rosberg finished a comfortable 7.2s clear of third-placed Vettel, who put his first championship points on the board after his own early retirement in Australia.
The Red Bulls were side-by-side through the opening sequence of turns, as Vettel’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo went round the outside at Turn 2.
Rosberg’s massive wobble coming though the long sweeping right-hander at Turn 3 allowed the reigning world champion to come back at his team-mate briefly, but Ricciardo held firm, only to be passed on lap four when Vettel slid up the inside at Turn 1 unchallenged.
Ricciardo had to get his elbows out again after the first round of pitstops, successfully rebuffing the efforts from Fernando Alonso to pass as he rejoined. The Red Bull prevailed over the Ferrari after more side-by-side action through Turns 1, 2 and 3.
But this proved a moot point ultimately, as Ricciardo suffered a botched late pitstop that required mechanics to push his car back to the Red Bull pit to refit the left front wheel correctly.
He rejoined the race, but then suffered a front wing failure on the start-finish straight, having broken it by running wide out of Turn 14 coming onto the back straight. He retired shortly afterwards.
Ricciardo’s misfortune promoted a personal duel between Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, in which the Spaniard again prevailed to take fourth.
Hulkenberg’s Force India used an unconventional two-stop strategy to get ahead of the Ferrari, but ultimately Alonso used the advantage of fresher tyres to re-take the place in the closing stages.
Jenson Button completed a stealthy climb from 10th on the grid to complete the top six, ahead of the duelling Williams of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
The Brazilian finished in front of the Finn after ignoring orders from his team to let him through.
Button’s McLaren team-mate Kevin Magnussen recovered from an early five-second stop-go penalty for puncturing the right-rear tyre on Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari to finish ninth, while Formula 1’s youngest ever points scorer Daniil Kvyat scored again by rounding out the top 10 for Toro Rosso.
Raikkonen recovered to a pointless 12th, behind Romain Grosjean’s much-improved Lotus.
Result - 56 laps: Pos Driver Team Time/Gap 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m40m25.974s 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +17.313s 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +24.534s 4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +35.992s 5. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes +47.199s 6. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +1m23.691s 7. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +1m25.076s 8. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +1m25.537s 9. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap 10. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap 11. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault +1 lap 12. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +1 lap 13. Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault +1 lap 14. Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault +2 laps 15. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps Retirements: Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 49 laps Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 35 laps Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 32 laps Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault 18 laps Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 8 laps Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 7 laps Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 0 laps Drivers' championship: 1. Nico Rosberg 43 2. Lewis Hamilton 25 3. Fernando Alonso 24 4. Jenson Button 23 5. Kevin Magnussen 20 6. Nico Hulkenberg 18 7. Sebastian Vettel 15 8. Valtteri Bottas 14 9. Kimi Raikkonen 6 10. Felipe Massa 6 11. Jean-Eric Vergne 4 12. Daniil Kvyat 3 13. Sergio Perez 1 Constructors' championship: 1. Mercedes 68 2. McLaren-Mercedes 43 3. Ferrari 30 4. Williams-Mercedes 20 5. Force India-Mercedes 19 6. Red Bull-Renault 15 7. Toro Rosso-Renault 7 8. Sauber-Ferrari 0 9. Lotus-Renault 0 10. Caterham-Renault 0 11. Marussia-Ferrari 0