Vettel wins thriller after ignoring team orders

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Malaysia, Sepang International Circuitmy

Sebastian Vettel has won the Malaysian GP after passing his teammate following an extremely hard fought battle 10 laps from the end. Mercedes impressed as well with Hamilton finishing on the podium, just ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg.

30 minutes before the start of the race, it rained heavily for a brief few minutes, making the track reasonable wet in the entire first sector. Sector 2 is only partly wet, with the final sector, including the first part of the start finish straight dry. All drivers choose to start on intermediates.

As the lights went out, Vettel kept the lead, with Alonso going through the outside of turn 1. Massa immediately lost his second place to his teammate and drops further back during the first few corners, ending up in 6th place at the end of the first lap.


Alonso on the other hand was even less fortunate as he was surprised how hard Vettel was braking in turn 2, slightly bumping into the back of the Red Bull with the left hand side of the front wing. While that didn't pose a problem immediately, the left support of the front wing failed halfway through the first lap, and contrary to pitting at the end of that lap, the team chose to continue, hoping to make a stop later on and immediately change to dry weather tyres. It was a major mistake however, as the front wing completely let go at the end of the main straight, leaving the Ferrari without front end grip and pushing Alonso straight into the gravel trap, abandoning the race.

The next few laps positions didn't change much, although Kimi Raikkonen ended up aside of the circuit a few times after attempting to pass a Toro Rosso.

At the end of lap 5, Vettel and Massa are the first to stop, changing to intermediates. Vettel strluggled badly in the first few corners but then got up to speed and managed to pass Grosjean again on the back straight after he passed Vettel himself early on in the lap.

The next lap sees 4 more stops, including the Force India cars. The team however completely screwed up Sutil's pitstop, and to make things worse Di Resta was queuing behind, also losing at least 20 seconds in the event.

One lap later Vetetl shows it really is the perfect time to change tyres, so everybody else opts to go in, except for Rosberg who went on for another lap. Hamilton however drove into the McLaren pit area, mistakenly thinking he was still at his former team. The mechanics however quickly signalled it was not the right place, so he went on to pit 2 places further along the pitlane at Mercedes AMG.

At Toro Rosso they also made a critical failure as they unsafely released Vergne after changing his tyres. They let him go while Pic was entering just ahead, braking the Toro Rosso's front wing. The team pullled him back in for a change of front wing, while at CaterhamF1 the team struggled to change tyres with Pic in such strange position.

After all the stops and with everybody on dry weather tyres, Webber leads the race thanks to pitting at the perfect time, without pitstop issues. On lap 12, Sebastian Vettel is only 2 seconds behind in second place. Hamilton is third, another 4 seconds down, with Rosberg 3 seconds behind his teammate. Behind them are Button, Hulkenberg, Massa, Grosjean, Pérez and Raikkonen.

On lap 14, Maldonado again loses his front wing after going too wide through turn 8 and ending up in the gravel. He managed to continue and get back to the pits, but it was an obvious driving error. Note that it didn't please the team very much either, as already before the race they had to change the front wing on Maldonado's Williams as well as he spun off during his warmup lap on his way to the pitlane.

At the beginning of lap 16, Raikkonen finally manages to get past the McLaren of Pérez at the end of the main straight. Raikkonen immediately went on to post the fastest lap, on his way to Romain Grosjean who is 4.4 seconds ahead. Antoher lap later, the gap has already decreased to 3.7 seconds.

At the end of lap 19, Webber pits and changes from the hard to the medium white tyre. Ferrari is also getting ready to pit Massa who has Grosjean now on his back after seeing him close in for quite some time now. Both men pit at the same time though, keeping Massa ahead of the Lotus. Raikkonen however, who ended up within two seconds of the duo will be happy to have a clear track ahead of him, again.

One lap later, Paul Di Resta now finds himself in another pitstop debacle as Force India mess up again, enduring a problem with the left front tyre. Di Resta is in the pits for more than a full second and sees numerous cars pass through the pitlane completing succesful and quick pitstops.

By lap 24, Di Resta is still in the pits, with the team unable to fasten the left front wheel. In any case, the team finally managed to get him out again, only to see him return to the pits at the end of the same lap to abandon the race.

On lap 25, Webber still leads but has Vettel and Hamilton closing up behind him. Note that in the top 12, everybody right now is on medium tyres, except for Vettel and Massa who are on the hards.

On lap 27, Vettel calls his team to say "Mark is too slow, get him out of the way". The team declined, noting it's just halfway the race, with Webber responding by putting Vettel at 1.5 seconds.

In lap 31, Hamilton pits, with Rosberg and Webber following suit the next lap. Note that right before the stop, Rosberg was only 1.5 seconds behind Vettel. The latter pits one lap later. At the same time, Hamilton posts the fastest lap and along with Webber ends up ahead of Vettel after his stop. Vettel came out of the pits only just ahead of Rosberg, even though the pitstop by Red Bull was absolutely impeccable.

With Button on a different strategy, Button is now leading the race. That only lasted for 3 laps thoguh as Webber gets past the McLaren on lap 35. One lap later, Hamilton also passes Button, the latter immediately diving into the pitlane. This was also immediately the end of Button in the sunshine as the front jack man released Button while the right front wheel was still not correctly fitted. Button stopped as the Sauber pitstop, with some crewmembers of McLaren running to the car, pulling him back to their box and fitting the wheel. Button was eventually on his way again and ended up in 14th place, between Ricciardo and Bianchi.

Meanwhile at the front, Webber posts the fastest lap with Hamilton losing ground on the leading Red Bull. Vettel meanwhile is around a second behind Hamilton, with Rosberg another second behind. Vettel gets past to take P2 in the beginning of lap 39.

Raikkonen on the other hand is complainig about Hulkenberg's on-track behaviour. The Finn is stuck behind the Sauber since his pitstop and has repeatedly seen his way being cut off by the German. On lap 39 Raikkonen went to the left hand side out of a right hand turn but found Hulkenberg cutting across the track, mildly touching the left front of Raikkonen with his right rear wheel.

On lap 41 Hamilton pits for medium tyres, with Rosberg doing the same one lap later, along with Vetel. Webber pits another lap later but takes on the hard tyres and he only marginally stays ahead of Vettel. It's a close fight through turns 1 to turn 5, but Webber retains the advantages, for now.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes cars are playing each other, with Rosberg first passing Hamilton on the back straight, followed by Hamilton re-passing his teammate on the main straight. The same happens the next lap.

At the same time Webber and Vettel have a very close fight for the lead, with Vettel eventually taking the lead in turn 5 after virtually running side by through as of the start finish straight.

With Mercedes tension is growing for Rsoberg who wants to have a go at Hamilton who is just ahead of him. Ross Brawn however replied to Rosberg that Lewis Hamilton is on a controlled pace but could easily go faster without the limitation imposed to him by the team. Positions remained unchanged and Rosberg finished merely half a second behind Rosberg.

Vettel wins this race after a briliant inter team battle. Mark Webber is second, 6 seconds behind Vettel.

At the end of the race, Ricciardo and Button both still abandoned the race while McLaren pitted Pérez on the penultimate lap to allow Pérez to set the fastest lap on the final lap.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault56Winner125
22Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault56+4.2 secs518
310Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG56+12.1 secs415
49Nico RosbergMercedes AMG56+12.6 secs612
54Felipe MassaFerrari56+25.6 secs210
68Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault56+35.5 secs118
77Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault56+48.4 secs106
811Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari56+53.0 secs124
96Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes56+72.3 secs92
1018Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari56+87.1 secs171
1117Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault56+88.6 secs18
1212Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari55+1 Lap14
1322Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth55+1 Lap19
1420Charles PicCaterham-Renault55+1 Lap20
1521Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault55+1 Lap22
1623Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth54+2 Laps21
175Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes53+3 Laps7
1819Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari51+5 Laps13
Ret16Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault45+11 Laps16
Ret15Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes27+29 Laps8
Ret14Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes22+34 Laps15
Ret3Fernando AlonsoFerrari1+55 Laps3