Red Bull Double Podium – Malaysian GP 2016

The Malaysian Grand Prix wasn’t particularly exciting until last leg of the race when Hamilton lost an almost sure race victory to an engine blow out.

The Top-10:

  1. Daniel RicciardoDanny boy can be all smiles again. First victory of the season (his first in two years), third podium of the season and by soundly defeating his team-mate in one-on-one racing. Red Bull really has cause to celebrate.
  2. Max VerstappenVerstappen’s otherwise admirable drive was soured somewhat by his needless belly aching on the team radio. Verstappen made contact with Vettel in the first curve but wasn’t affected that much by it.
  3. Nico RosbergConversely, Rosberg’s contact with Vettel set him back quite a way but due to Mercedes’ unbeatable pace he rose the field easily. The gap between him and the Red Bulls was too much and Nico landed this podium with sheer luck. Still, his pace is impressive considering he got a 10-second penalty for ramming into Räikkönen on the overtake and was able to drive a big enough gap for it not to matter.
  4. Kimi Räikkönen – Solid drive from the Ice Man, not even the contact with Rosberg frazzled him.
  5. Valtteri Bottas – Bottas gave his team something to celebrate about with a solid finish and considering his team-mate’s terrible luck. Also, seeing two Finns in the Top-5 is a rarity for this season, so that’s also a plus.
  6. Sergio Perez – Another solid drive from the Mexican. Force India had a good day. Also, this result keeps them ahead of Williams.
  7. Fernando Alonso – Easily the most impressive rise from the back where Alonso started because of a grid-penalty. McLaren are soundly beating Toro Rosso now.
  8. Nico Hülkenberg – Another okay but not fantastic result from The Hülk. I’m a bit disappointed but I suppose Nico has very little pressure since he already has a contract for next season.
  9. Jenson Button – An okay day for McLaren by this season’s standards.
  10. Jolyon Palmer – The Renault Rookie finally scored his first point of the season. It’s a step in the right direction for Jolyon. Hopefully this is a taste of things to come and not just a one-race fluke.

Golden Pineapple Award: Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso

Amazingly this is Toro Rosso’s first Pineapple Award of the season. For Sainz it’s also a sad indicator of where his race performance has been going in the past few Grand Prixs. Whereas Sainz scored points in the vast majority of the races in the first half of the season, it seems the Spaniard is faltering towards the season’s end. Hopefully, Toro Rosso will have better luck in Japan this weekend.

Drop-out count: 6

Technical difficulties ended the races for Kevin Magnussen, Felipe Nasr and, of course, Lewis Hamilton who was leading the race all the way until Lap 41 when his engine went up in a blaze of glory. It remains to be seen if a similar incident might befall Nico at the end of the season.

Sebastian Vettel‘s front suspension was totalled in his incident with Rosberg on Lap 1.

The Haas team had an embarrassing showing at Malaysia. First, Romain Grosjeans brakes gave out on Lap 8 and he spun out into the sand. Then on Lap 21, Esteban Gutierrez’s front wheel came loose seemingly by itself (I didn’t see the pit-stop so I don’t know if this was a mechanical or a mechanic’s failure).

The Virtual Safety car was deployed three times for the incidents involving Vettel, Grosjean and Hamilton.

Back of the Lot:

Marcus Ericsson did whatever it is he does during race weekends and was 12th.

Felipe Massa’s 13th place was hardly a surprise with his car freezing on the start, forcing him to start from the pits, having a slow-puncture in his hard tires forcing to do an early pit-stop and having his front-wing changed as well.

Daniil Kvyat slumped today after scoring his first points in five races, but he was apparently involved in an incident early on, so his low finish was probably explained by that. Pascal Wehrlein also showed surprisingly little fight today.

Dead Last: Esteban OconOcon’s overtaken his team-mate in the number of last places. This probably won’t sour his relationship with the team too badly who, for the first time in their history, seem to want to retain both drivers for next season.