Rosberg survives Vettel assault
Back in Russia, Sebastian Vettel was the unwitting victim of a first-corner punt from behind, but in Malaysia it was the Ferrari driver who got his braking wrong – and very nearly ended Nico Rosberg’s race as a result. As you can see in the video above, it was something of a miracle that Rosberg’s Silver Arrow wasn’t collected by the field as it lay stranded in the middle of the track – indeed at one point Jolyon Palmer’s Renault was headed straight for the world championship leader. Having survived more-or-less intact, Rosberg wasted no time in getting back into the race via a text-book spin turn, while Vettel – who apologised to his countryman afterwards – limped into retirement with broken suspension and a three-place grid drop for the next race in Japan.
Alonso makes short work of Grosjean
Fernando Alonso’s opening lap in Sepang is already well on its way to becoming the stuff of legend, but the Spaniard’s hard-charging didn’t end there. On lap five he found himself behind Romain Grosjean’s Haas, but after a tentative look at Turn 1 the Frenchman comfortably fended off his advances at Turns 4 and 5. However, it wouldn’t take Alonso long to get by. The next lap, lessons learned, the wily Spaniard kept his powder dry at Turn 1 before diving up the inside at Turn 4 - a reversal of his previous tactics and further evidence of Alonso’s shrewd racing brain.
Rosberg pulls no punches with Raikkonen
“I was surprised that I got penalised,” said Nico Rosberg of the 10-second time penalty he earned as a result of the above collision with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, which occurred when the duo were fighting it out for fourth place. “I had to give it a go at some point and I saw the opportunity, so I went for it. You need to be creative and wherever a chance comes, take it. I thought it was an aggressive move but still okay, to be honest. That's what we race for!” It’s worth remembering that at the time of the move Hamilton was still leading the race, and set to tip the balance of the world championship back in his favour. Would Rosberg have tried such an aggressive move if the same scenario had presented itself after Hamilton had retired? Who knows…
Ricciardo and Verstappen nearly get too close for comfort
When Max Verstappen eased onto the back of team mate Daniel Ricciardo’s identical RB11 and started attacking in the latter stages of the race, you could forgive Red Bull boss Christian Horner for having flashbacks to the events of the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix when the team’s then-drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber clashed while disputing the lead. Thankfully for Horner, there were no such dramas this time around, but the onboard footage above does show just how close the duo came to disaster, particularly in Turns 5 and 6 where for a second or two Verstappen had his nose in front. “To race Formula One like that, high-speed corners, to be inches from each other…it’s fun,” said Ricciardo afterwards. “You’re in the heat of battle, you’re seeing red but at the same time you’ve got to smile. You know the guy that’s two metres to the right of you is having the same amount of fun and you’re both trying to take what was eventually the lead of the race. So it’s a good shot of adrenaline.”
Hamilton gets that sinking feeling
“No! No!” cried Lewis Hamilton in anguish as his Mercedes engine expired in Sepang – and you could well understand his pain. Having entered the race eight-point behind team mate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ standings, the Briton was just 16 laps from significantly reversing that deficit when the power went from under his right foot. Watch the video above, and listen out for the exact moment when Hamilton’s victory hopes literally went up in smoke.
Gutierrez keeps Kimi on his toes
Drivers may be travelling at significantly reduced speeds under Virtual Safety Car conditions, but they have to remain as alert as ever – as Kimi Raikkonen discovered in Sepang when, moments after Hamilton’s exit, Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas unexpectedly shed its front-left tyre right in front of him. The incident earned Haas a 5000 euro fine with the stewards unsurprisingly deeming the sudden loss a serious safety issue. But it also reminded us of the incredible reaction times of F1 drivers - just watch how quickly Raikkonen flicks his wrists to the right. They don't call him the Iceman for nothing...