Malaysian GP Debrief: Hamilton Heartbreak Hands Ricciardo Unlikely Victory

Discussion in 'Formula 1' started by Ben Stevens, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. Ben Stevens

    Ben Stevens

    ricmalaysia.jpg In a race that will go down as one of the most chaotic in recent memory, Daniel Ricciardo was able to get the win he’d been waiting for.

    Do you believe in karma? Daniel Ricciardo probably does. Lewis Hamilton? Not so much.

    Having seen victory slip through his fingers in Spain and Monaco, this time the misfortune was to Ricciardo’s benefit after a comfortable victory for Hamilton went quite literally up in smoke.

    On his way to regaining the championship lead after Nico Rosberg had endured a costly first-corner spin in an incident with Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton had delivered a masterful drive to see off the threat of both Ricciardo and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, whose split strategies put both drivers in victory contention. Then, on lap 41, while leading Ricciardo by over 20 seconds, Hamilton’s engine burst into flames, leaving the Brit helpless as all his good work evaporated in the Malaysian heat, his only recourse to let out an anguished “No!” as his championship chances slimmed drastically.

    With Hamilton out of the race, Ricciardo was able to hold on for victory, but while gifted the lead, had displayed his own stellar driving in a duel with Verstappen just prior to Hamilton’s incident that made him a deserved winner. To add insult to injury for Hamilton, it was Rosberg who joined Ricciardo and Verstappen on the podium, having come back from 21st on the first lap.

    Undeniably the most explosive race of the season – both literally and figuratively – Sunday’s race gave us plenty to discuss. Read on for a look at all the fallout from the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

    ricshoey.jpg Shoeys All ‘Round – Ricciardo Finally on the Board in 2016

    It’s safe to say no one thought Daniel Ricciardo had a chance of winning the Malaysian GP. No one but Daniel Ricciardo, that is.

    Finishing a half-second behind winner Nico Rosberg two weeks ago in Singapore, Ricciardo revealed post-race on Sunday his proclamation he’d seize a victory before the season was over. How he’d get it with Red Bull’s performance deficits at the final six circuits was anyone’s guess – but no one could’ve guessed it’d happen like this.

    Starting behind not just both Mercedes, but also (for the second time all season) his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, Ricciardo had an awful lot working against him. Verstappen had a slight, but undeniable advantage over the Australian all weekend, one that was only extended in the race. An early stop under the virtual safety car handed Verstappen seemingly the better strategy, allowing him to undercut both Ricciardo and race leader Hamilton, while their lap times on the compulsory hard tyre certainly favoured the Dutchman.

    Where Ricciardo won the race was in his fight with Verstappen on lap 39, two laps prior to Hamilton’s engine failure. Verstappen having drawn alongside out of turn 4, the two Red Bull drivers went side-by-side through 5 and 6, the rubbered-in line on the track rendered a mere suggestion as both tried edging their way around the outside. Ultimately Ricciardo’s line proved best, cutting off Verstappen into 7, and as we know now, deciding the race’s victor.

    Of course, that moment’s significance was only helped by the immediacy of Hamilton’s retirement. Without it Ricciardo probably would’ve had to pit and concede position soon after, and had it happened even a lap later, Red Bull’s decision to pit both drivers at the same time might have been different. As it was, leaving Verstappen out was far from a guarantee he’d take the win (or even a podium), but it was definitely a case of “playing it safe” and undeniably gave Ricciardo a big advantage. Verstappen had only used softs compared to Ricciardo’s fresh set to finish the race, meaning team-orders-or-no, pitting effectively conceded any chance he had of winning. Unsurprisingly, allegations of team orders from Red Bull’s pit wall were quick to follow, but team boss Christian Horner remained adamant it was necessary to protect their 1-2 from Kimi Raikkonen and Rosberg, who both also pitted.

    Having taken all his wins in the Mercedes era, Ricciardo isn’t unfamiliar with upsets, but Sunday’s was on a different level. He may have been gifted this victory, but it doesn’t make him any less deserving. He won this race on track, in a wheel-to-wheel duel with his teammate, and especially after the disappointment of Barcelona and Monaco, he’s more than entitled to take it.

    hammalaysia.jpg Another Costly Blow for Hamilton

    The two-time defending world champion, Lewis Hamilton’s chances of making it a hat-trick just got an awful lot slimmer.

    You could be the biggest Nico Rosberg fan this side of Mrs. Rosberg, but you’d be hard pressed not to feel at least a little for Hamilton in the moments after his engine failed on Sunday. He’d beaten Rosberg in qualifying, nailed the start and neutralised the Red Bulls – the win was in the bag, until it wasn’t.

    In his rather disconsolate post-race, Hamilton had never looked so beaten, to the point that he seemed to be at least considering the sort of conspiracy theories that make Mercedes’ facebook page saltier than the Dead Sea. Thankfully he didn’t go that far – although that surely won’t stop the speculation – suggesting instead the failure was due to a “higher power” (probably the god of chaos, Pastor Maldonado). Right now there is no good explanation, and all Hamilton can do is stew in the frustration of the engine issues that have plagued him all season, and the way things are headed, may end up costing him a championship.

    If Hamilton had won on Sunday, he would’ve left Sepang with a 5-point championship lead, assuming Rosberg finished behind the Red Bulls. Instead, he has entered the darkest timeline – a 23-point deficit, with a championship that is essentially out of his hands. Assuming the Mercedes pairing finish 1-2 at each of the five remaining races, Rosberg only needs to win one of them to finish on top of the driver’s standings. That said, it’s not impossible by any means – Hamilton has won five races in a row before (Monza-Austin 2014), while reliability can swing both ways, also there’s now the prospect that Ricciardo’s shoey gave Rosberg oral tinea, or some other foot-related disease.

    Still, Rosberg is the odds-on favourite, and it will be a shame if the crackpot theories and accusations continue to persist, but they likely will. The truth is Hamilton doesn’t get paid $30 million a year (approximately $12 million more than Rosberg) to lose races. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that F1 is first-and-foremost advertising for Mercedes. They’re not in the Lewis Hamilton business, nor the Nico Rosberg business, and cars that keeps imploding is much worse for advertising than any German winning the world championship is good for it. Mercedes’ Niki Lauda has labelled such talk of sabotage as “ridiculous and stupid”, and that’s all the team needs to say about it.

    For a team that has had probably the most dominant three-year run in F1 history, it’s remarkable how the drama returns with such regularity. And yet after all that’s happened, the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix might be the biggest chapter. Maybe this was the title decider, maybe this was the just another obstacle to hurdle. We’ll find out very soon. Bring on Suzuka.

    Was this the best of Ricciardo’s four career victories? Does Hamilton have any realistic chance to fight back? What’s your favourite Mercedes conspiracy theory? Let us know in the comments below.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2016
    • Like Like x 5
  2. paracletus


    Very good win by DR; definitely was the best of the rest yesterday.
    extremely unlikely LH can win the DC. If he does win from this position, he will certainly be one of the all time greatest F1 drivers.
    Don't buy into any of the sabotage theories, just silly.
  3. TimeHunt


    Onya Daniel !! So proud of you mate, been the classiest driver all season, well deserved!
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. fortyfivekev


    Well done to Daniel and the Red Bull guys, makes up for the bad lack and dodgy strategy calls earlier in the season. I used to be a big fan of Lewis back in his GP2 and Mclaren days before his ego took over but would much prefer Nico to win the title now even though he is the second best driver in the team. It's a shame that Toto doesn't have the balls to call him out on this stuff, I can't imagine team principals of the past putting up with it.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. thewarmer


    I think it is easier to pass the blame by people call sabotage by Mercedes in fave of the German driver in a German car over a British driver , it just the sort of garbage that the UK press love to feed people , passing the blame even better if its just happens to be a none British team, & then people fall for it.

    I am sure Mercedes would love to have 1st & 2nd place for all race's & do not give a monkeys on the nationality of the driver that wins the race or the driver crown.

    History prove that one two seen that there has never been a German driver that became a world champion while driving any German made or powered F1 car.

    Mercedes has always hired drivers that car bring the team wins regardless of there birth nation.
    Lewis has always been quick to blame when things are not going his way .
    Like all sport you need a little luck . this year he has struggled while Nico has mad the most of it , been the so call best in F1 means nothing if things are not working for you its that simple.

    Has Lewis signed for next year yet at Merc ? or will he throw his toys out of the pram if he looses this year.
    Truth is the whole Sabotage theories is just crap . no team is going to risk throwing a Championship out the window trying to fix the result .

    Just imagine they have five bad races & engine trouble hit both cars then the whole idea fixing would back fire totally .
    Its just hype to sell papers & feed stupid people who still have an issue with nationality outside of their own.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. kmanitou81


    Formula 1 still happens? Cool.
  7. Mark Aalberts

    Mark Aalberts

    Great win, shame about that last VSC wich came a bit to early.Would have loved to see that battle going on for a few more laps:p. After the VSC it was more or less decided.

    Wonder what happens once they are in a championship winning car, im sure it will give some fireworks in the near future for them.:cool:
  8. thatmotorfreak


    I can't believe I missed out on this race.

    Another great win for Red Bull as Mercedes loses it completely, hope to see more of that in future races. Starting to like Ricciardo more and more.
  9. Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    Andy 'Mars Bar' Graham

    The funniest thing about the Mercedes sabotage theories is the guy in charge of the Mercedes power units is British :D
  10. otto


    In 2013 Spa Q3 In the rain Rosberg was almost 2 seconds faster than Hamilton in the same car 2 laps in a row.Look it up you'll see i'm right .He has enough skill.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  11. Henky SA

    Henky SA

    probably this music suits all the Hamilton's sabotage theories, or probably his feeling this week :D
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