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Malaysian Grand Prix

Formula 1 season 2014

Circuit information
CircuitSepang International Circuit
LocationSepang
CountryMalaysia
TimezoneGMT +08:00
Race debut1999
Laps56
Length5.543 km
Distance310.408 km
Line offset0.000 km

A mixed weekend in Sepang saw rain hit qualifying but steer clear of the race, allowing Lewis Hamilton to snatch pole position and convert it to victory. Nico Rosberg followed him to make Mercedes’ first modern 1-2 finish, whilst there was drama behind. Daniel Ricciardo had a torrid race, culminating in a 10 second stop/go penalty and retirement. Five other drivers failed to finish, whilst Sergio Pérez didn’t make it to the starting line.

Event overview

A rain hit qualifying saw the start delayed by almost an hour until the safety car could tour the circuit and confirm it was in a driveable condition. Pastor Maldonado dropped out in the first session, but Lotus managed to get Romain Grosjean through to the second – although he ended up just one place ahead of his teammate. The Williams pair had shown good pace up until qualifying began, but the wet conditions caught them out and they ended up knocked out in Q2. Valtteri Bottas was later given a three place grid drop for impeding Daniel Ricciardo on a flying lap, and the Finn dropped down the order to line up in 18th place.

Nico Hülkenberg and Jean-Éric Vergne were perhaps the surprise names making it into the top ten. Jenson Button opted to complete his laps on intermediate tyres, when everyone else was on full wets, so he lined up tenth compared to his teammate’s eighth. It was all about Mercedes at the front, with Lewis Hamilton setting a benchmark and then improving on the provisional pole time. Sebastian Vettel swept into second place with just a 0.05 second gap, the German sure he could have improved if he’d managed to cross the line in time for a final flying lap.

It made no odds, as Vettel lost out off the line to Rosberg, dropping back behind both Mercedes drivers. It was a clean first corner, unlike in Australia. The main drama came before the race actually began, with Sergio Pérez pulling to a halt at the end of the pit lane. His mechanics had to dash down the pit lane and recover the car but they couldn’t get it going in time and he was unable to start the race.

The first corner may have been clean but it was only a few more turns later that a collision occurred between Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi. The latter was penalised for the incident, handed a new five second pit penalty by the stewards. On the second lap, Kevin Magnussen crashed into the back of Kimi Räikkönen who had to crawl back to the pit lane and ended up running at the rear of the field. Magnussen had to pit for a new front wing, and also found himself with a five second penalty. Both he and Bottas were also given penalty points on the driver’s licence.

It was on lap 9 that we saw our first retirement, with Pastor Maldonado instructed to return the car to the garage. Lotus were left to take heart from the fact that Romain Grosjean made it to the end of the race, although he was one lap down, and just outside the points.

Out front, Lewis Hamilton led almost the entirety of the race. Nico Hülkenberg was running a two-stop strategy compared to the rest of the top ten who opted for three stops. That meant he popped up in the lead of the race once, but soon dropped down the order again. The German eventually finished in fifth place, just behind Fernando Alonso.

All the drivers started on medium tyres, and with a vague threat of rain towards the end of the race, most tried to run the white striped compounds for as long as possible, in case they could get away without using the hards. The rain didn’t arrive with any force, which saw some last minute pit stops to take on the harder compound.

Sebastian Vettel followed the two Mercedes drivers home for a podium finish, which was bliss compared to his teammate’s woes. Ricciardo had been running a decent race until a pit stop went wrong. He came to a halt half way down the pit lane, with one of the tyres not attached properly. The mechanics recovered the car and serviced the tyres, sending him on his way again. Having lost a lot of time, it was even more disappointing for Daniel to suddenly discover front wing damage on the car, forcing him to crawl back round a full lap and return to the pit lane.

Fresh tyres and a new front wing, Ricciardo was on his way again, only to be given a 10 second stop/go penalty for the unsafe release. It wasn’t a massive surprise when the Australian returned to the pit lane for the final time on Lap 52, calling it a day. Other retirements included Jules Bianchi with floor damage, Adrian Sutil who stopped out on track, and Esteban Gutiérrez who came into the pit lane with his brakes smoking.

Meanwhile, the very end of the race was tinged with intrigue when the Williams drivers were handed some team orders. Felipe Massa was instructed “Valtteri is faster than you,” which must have rankled, and the Brazilian ignored the call. With only a handful of laps left, there wasn’t much time for Bottas to make any attempts anyway, and the race ended with the pair 7th and 8th, Massa ahead.

Session timetable
DateDaySessionTimeLocal time
28 MarFridayFree Practice 102:00
GMT +00:00
10:00
GMT +08:00
Free Practice 206:00
GMT +00:00
14:00
GMT +08:00
29 MarSaturdayFree Practice 305:00
GMT +00:00
13:00
GMT +08:00
Qualifying08:00
GMT +00:00
16:00
GMT +08:00
30 MarSundayGrand Prix09:00
GMT +01:00
16:00
GMT +08:00

All content in the series Malaysia 2014