M an felt reminded of the GP Belgium 2016. This time with different roles. It was not Max Verstappen who braked late into the first corner on the inside lane, but Sebastian Vettel. While the youngster had the best seat in the box in his Red Bull in the middle, Nico Rosberg pulled in from the outside line. At this point the world championship leader was in front and had the right to take the bend like this.
The problem: The paths of the Mercedes and the Ferrari crossed. Vettel slipped into Rosberg and turned him around. The result: the left front suspension on the Ferrari broke. It was the end for Vettel. Rosberg fell back to the end of the field. 'Fortunately, my car was safe,' he said.
Vettel apologized in the Ferrari press release for his maneuver. “Not personally,” noted Rosberg. “I got off to a good start and fought against Max. Nico was ahead and turned in from the outside, ”said Vettel. “It was his right to drive his line. I was pushed to the right by Max and couldn't delay enough. I couldn't avoid the collision anymore. It was an unfortunate chain reaction. '
The much scolded Verstappen, who was often criticized for his aggressive driving skills, laughed:' He torpedoed him. 'Victim Rosberg quipped smugly and pissed off at the same time:' I became the victim of a torpedo shot down by a four-time world champion. I don't know what Seb was thinking. ”Niki Lauda also expressed his opinion clearly:“ That was an amazing maneuver by Vettel that couldn't go well. The Verstappen campaign in Spa was almost harmless against it. What Vettel tried would never have worked out. ”
Not everyone in the paddock blamed Vettel. The experts and ex-racing drivers Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert spoke of a racing accident. Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene hit the same line after a conversation with Vettel. Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff reassured: “Sebastian didn't do it on purpose.
And how did the stewards under ex-racing driver Derek Warwick see the situation? After a meeting with Vettel, you got three penalty spots for the Japanese GP in one week. And awarded two points for the criminal record. The commissioners justified the punishmentall because Rosberg fell so far behind due to the accident. “All of the cars involved had about the same speed. The driver of car number 5 (Vettel) made a small mistake when pulling inside into turn one, which led to his contact with car number 6. As a result, Rosberg turned and lost numerous positions, which the stewards see as Vettel's main offense. 'Was the punishment against Rosberg fair?
Nico Rosberg had a second acquaintance with a red car in Sepang. This time, the World Cup leader was the cause of the collision. It happened on lap 37. Kimi Raikkonen was in third place in front of the Mercedes. Both separated by a few tenths. 'I saw that he was trying something because he had drawn so far,' reported the Finn.
Rosberg made a wide arc in the first corner to push past the Ferrari in the second corner. His right front wheel crashed into the left end plate of the SF16-H, the carbon splinters flew. In addition, Rosberg damaged the underbody of the Ferrari with his right rear wheel. 'The damage cost ten downforce points,' complained Ferrari race director Arrivabene. Rosberg reported a crooked steering.
The commissioners sentenced Rosberg to a ten-second penalty during the race, which was added to his final race time. Rosberg managed to get enough lead over the battered Ferrari to stay third. 'I accept the penalty,' said Rosberg. Toto Wolff pissed her off: “Complete nonsense. We decided a few months ago that the drivers can drive harder against each other and that there is no penalty if the case is not 100 percent clear. 'How proceeded Red Bull with the tactic?
Red Bull took the opportunity in the second virtual safety car phase (VSC) to swap the tires on Max Verstappen's car. The mechanics screwed another set of the soft tire compound to the racing car with the starting number 33. In contrast, the better placed Daniel Ricciardo stayed on the track to follow the leader Hamilton. “The Verstappen tires were more worn. That's why he came in, ”argued team advisor Helmut Marko.
The slow drive on the track gave the Dutchman important seconds while he was standing in the pits. He came onto the track just 14 seconds behind Ricciardo and 16.7 seconds behind Hamilton. And he had the fresher tires. In Sepang you actually lose at least 23 seconds during a pit stop. Conversely, this meant that Verstappen would take the lead as soon as Hamilton and Ricciardo turned to stop. That's how it happened.
Hamilton and Ricciardo picked up the hard tire compound on lap 20 and 21 respectively. She was fromPirelli compulsory in the race. Verstappen caught her on lap 27 and fell back behind the duo. Hamilton put pressure on and increased the gap to the Red Bull. 'We were about to have the required distance to make a second stop when Lewis's engine burst,' reported Toto Wolff. So Mercedes made two stops.
The case was different with Red Bull. Verstappen should drive through with his third set of tires. It would have been a 29 lap stint. Before the race, Pirelli recommended a maximum of 28 laps on the hard set. But Red Bull wanted to take risks. Because with another stop by Verstappen he would not have had a chance against Hamilton. Ricciardo also played poker. “We asked him if he dared to go to the end. He said yes, ”explained Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. That would have been a stint over 35 laps. Because both shouldn't have come to the pits as planned, Red Bull released the duel on the track between his drivers. 'Only if Daniel's tires had broken in would we have reacted to protect against Rosberg.'
Hamilton's retirement changed the plans. Red Bull brought both drivers into the third Virtual Safety Car to give them the same chance of winning with fresh tires. Ricciardo had a small advantage: his soft clothing was new, while that of Verstappen was used.How did Valtteri Bottas get fifth?
Valtteri Bottas started the GP Malaysia from eleventh position. He was the first driver to have a free choice of tires. The Williams strategists decided to let go of their pilot with the medium. All cars started before him had the softer softs after qualifying. After a good start, Bottas benefited from the accident between Vettel and Rosberg. He moved up three positions and was already down on Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India.
Williams remained true to his strategy in all three virtual phases of the safety car. Bottas only came to a stop once. On lap 29 he switched to the hard mix and drove to the finish. Force India operated differently. Perez swapped rubbers twice, Hulkenberg three times. “We underestimated the soft tire and thought it would break in faster. That's why we had to swap tires with both cars at the second VSC ', justified Force India.
Bottas beamed:' Our strategy worked perfectly. That was important to leave both Force India behind me today. ”He finished fifth and scored ten points. 'Our plan may have looked risky on paper, but it was the right one,' said Head of Operations Rob Smedley. Still there was a crying eye. The two Force India together got 12 points and increased their lead in the Team World Cup.What went wrong at HaasF1?
For Haas had in SepangPoints can jump out. Instead, one sank into chaos in an eventful GP. Romain Grosjean spun into the gravel early in the race. “The brake disc is broken”, apologized team boss Guenther Steiner. It was the rear left.
Esteban Gutierrez caused curiosities, whose left front wheel fell off between turns eight and nine. 'We have no idea how that could happen,' puzzled Steiner. “The wheel nut was still on the rim.” According to Pirelli, Gutierrez made his last pit stop on lap 22. The FIA took a closer look. Gutierrez picked up new tires again on lap 39. Then the mishap happened. “If the screws are not seated correctly, the impact wrench will not actually loosen in the first place. We now have to investigate intensively with the FIA. ”