Malaysian GP – A hard fought 12 point

Fernando Alonso started from fourth on the grid and 56 laps later, he was fourth at the flag. It was a tough afternoon for him and even tougher for his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who spiralled to the back of the pack after having to pit with a puncture, eventually fighting his way back to finish twelfth. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg secured a one-two finish for Mercedes, the company’s first since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel third for Red Bull.

Hamilton’s Mercedes led from pole, Rosberg squeezed very close to the pit wall and got ahead of Vettel to run second, while Ricciardo also passed his Red Bull team-mate, so that the order was Hamilton, already pulling out from Rosberg, then Ricciardo, Vettel with Fernando having dropped one place to fifth and about to be passed by Hulkenberg. Kimi was in trouble with a puncture to a rear tyre and had to pit, the Finn having been clipped by Magnussen’s McLaren. Fernando soon retook fifth place on lap 2, with Kimi rejoining down the back as Vettel passed Ricciardo on lap 3.


By lap 8, Hamilton already had a massive 5.2 second lead over Rosberg, with Vettel 3.4 down on the German, followed by Ricciardo at a second and Fernando 1.1 off the Australian. A three-stopper was the favourite strategy and Fernando came in for fresh Mediums on lap 11. Ricciardo came in next time round and the Ferrari and Red Bull ended up wheel to wheel for a few corners, before the Australian pulled ahead for seventh place. Fernando fought his way past Bottas for sixth on lap 14, as the two Mercedes made their stops. Hulkenberg, the only one of the lead group not to have changed tyres was second, with Fernando sixth behind Ricciardo, with Kimi still unable to make headway in nineteenth.

The middle part of the race saw little change to the order. Everyone was aiming for a very long penultimate stint, as the threat of rain meant that a costly extra stop for dry tyres was to be avoided. Fernando closed on Ricciardo’s Red Bull, later retired, so the gap was half a second on lap 37 when the rain began to fall at Turns 9 and 10, but it would never be heavy enough for anything but slicks. Fernando made his final stop from fourth place on lap 47 but with Hulkenberg on a two-stopper, the Spaniard lost a place dropping to fifth. However, undaunted, he set off in pursuit of the Force India, the gap standing at 9.1 with 9 laps to go. He took 2 seconds out of that next time round, setting a race fastest lap.

In the closing stages, Kimi had a crowd-pleasing battle with Grosjean’s Lotus, trying to take eleventh off the Frenchman but to no avail. The Finn’s car had floor damage after the Magnussen incident, which meant downforce was lacking on the F14 T. After a wheel to wheel battle through several corners, Fernando passed Hulkenberg to secure fourth spot with a few laps remaining.


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