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Winners and Losers - Malaysia

30 Mar 2015

The second race of 2015 threw up several surprises - and not just through Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari eclipsing Mercedes. Toro Rosso beat both Red Bulls for the first time in almost six years; McLaren made massive gains, even if they still have an equally massive workload ahead; and Marussia saw the chequered flag for the first time this year. We take a look at the best, and worst, of a dramatic race as Ferrari turned up the heat in sweltering Sepang...


Sebastian Vettel, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, P4

What a fabulous day Ferrari enjoyed, with their first victory since Spain 2013, and the first with Vettel.

The Italian team went to the grid believing that if they could pressure Mercedes into overusing their tyres early on, they might be able to win through decent pace and better tyre conservation. As it was, the intervention of the safety car on lap four - and a clever decision to keep Vettel out on a two-stopper when Mercedes had effectively committed to three by opting to pit both Hamilton and Rosberg - helped pave the way for a historic triumph. 

Making it even sweeter, Raikkonen had the pace to fight back from a poor grid position, and a first-lap puncture, to take fourth. The Prancing Horse is back!


Lewis Hamilton, P2
Nico Rosberg, P3

Even had they not pitted both drivers under the safety car, Mercedes weren't sure they could have won. Hamilton said he was doubtful as his car's balance was poor all afternoon, while Rosberg professed not to have gone through his whole strategic campaign but said that he lost huge chunks of time stacked behind Hamilton in the pits, and then waiting for the traffic flow to enable Mercedes to release him back out onto the pit lane.

In truth, if Mercedes had hedged their bets and kept either Hamilton or Rosberg out at the safety car, they might just have pulled it off - but the F1 W06 Hybrid was harder on its tyres than the Ferraris in the searing temperatures, so it would have been close. Second and third, and 33 constructors' points, wasn't a disaster, but Niki Lauda's determination to reply to Mercedes' detractors by winning every race in 2015 has already gone awry.


Valtteri Bottas, P5
Felipe Massa, P6

Bottas was delayed by a clash with Maldonado on the opening lap, but made some ground up thanks to the safety car. He then got his head down and chased after Massa, who said he didn't feel that his car was particularly great, and after a tight little scrap in which they brushed wheels briefly, he came through to beat the Brazilian for fifth on the penultimate lap.

Toro Rosso

Max Verstappen, P7
Carlos Sainz, P8

The Toro Rosso rookies had a great race in which they battled hard with each other hard - as well as anyone else around them - as their pit calls ebbed and flowed. Both acquitted themselves well to net another 10 points for the team, with Verstappen also becoming the youngest-ever world championship points scorer with the final unlapped position, seventh. At 17 years, 5 months and 27 days, his record will take some beating. Sainz followed him home in eighth, a second points score in as many races for the Spanish rookie.

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, P9
Daniel Ricciardo, P10

How times change! Back here in 2013 the Red Bulls scrapped acrimoniously for victory amid the saga of 'Multi 21'. Now, Kvyat and Ricciardo struggled home ninth and 10th - and had the added indignity of being lapped by Vettel. There were mitigating factors: Kvyat survived being pushed into a spin by Hulkenberg in Turn 2, and Ricciardo sustained front wing damage on the first lap. But the brutal fact is that the RB11 lacked pace...


Romain Grosjean, P11
Pastor Maldonado, Retired lap 47, brakes

After a strong showing in qualifying, Lotus had another unhappy Sunday. Grosjean was often well in the top 10, but only because he was out of kilter on tyre changes after he stayed out during the flurry of stops under the safety car. He survived being knocked into a spin by Perez at Turn 9, but couldn't better 11th. Maldonado was in the wars again, suffering a puncture after scraping Bottas on the first lap, and later fell out with a braking problem.


Felipe Nasr, P12
Marcus Ericsson, Retired lap 4, spin

Ericsson was out early in the game, as a botched attempt to pass Hulkenberg led to him spinning and getting beached in the gravel at Turn 1. That left Nasr, who struggled home 12th with handling difficulties that were a hangover from qualifying.

Force India

Sergio Perez, P13
Nico Hulkenberg, P14

Perez and Hulkenberg were both involved in incidents with others. The Mexican got a 10-second pit stop penalty for nudging off Grosjean, the German something similar for tapping Kvyat into a spin. Hulkenberg had looked good keeping a slew of cars at bay without resorting to anything naughty early on, having stayed out when the safety car was deployed, but neither car had points-scoring pace.


Roberto Merhi, P15
Will Stevens, Withdrawn

Marussia couldn't fix Stevens' car after the fuel system problems which first sprang up in FP3 and also prevented the Briton from running during qualifying. But Merhi did at least enjoy a clean Grand Prix debut to take a much-needed 15th place, which gave the team valuable experience for its 2015 car. Considering the team had done zero winter testing, and had to contend with such brutal temperatures, getting their car home at the first attempt was a laudable achievement.


Jenson Button, Retired lap 41, turbo
Fernando Alonso, Retired lap 22, ERS cooling

They might not have got a car to the chequered flag like they did in Australia, as engine-related problems intervened, but both Alonso and Button were pleased that they were able to mix it with others in the lower midfield. Disappointment, then, but also confirmation of the progress the team have made since Melbourne.