It’s official: we have a competition in our hands for the 2015 Formula One season. Sebastian Vettel grabbed the victory at the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of the two Mercedes cars, showing that there’s a lot of work to be done by the defending constructors champion if it wants to fend off Ferrari this year.
Lewis Hamilton failed to convert a pole position into a race victory for the first time in the last eight poles, but still finished second while Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg took the third and final spot on the podium at the Sepang Circuit. Hamilton finished a whopping 8.57 seconds behind the Ferrari, though.
There was no problem with the car and the pace on this race (as evidenced by Rosberg setting the fastest lap), but again, Mercedes proved that the weakest link in its performance is tyre strategy. This was a major problem for the team from a couple of years ago, and it really needs to work on this aspect in order to withstand the Ferrari challenge.
With the win, Vettel moves within three points of Hamilton (43 points so far) for the lead in the drivers’ standings. Nico Rosberg drops to third (33 points). Kimi Raikkonen jumped from P11 on the grid and finished in fourth place to make it a good day for Scuderia Ferrari, which has 52 points to Mercedes’ 76 after two races. Williams is in third so far with 30 points.
The Williams went after Raikkonen in finishing the race, with Valtteri Bottas in fifth and Felipe Massa in sixth. The Toro Rossos followed after them, with seventh claimed by Max Verstappen and eighth taken by Carlos Sainz Jr. The Red Bulls got set back after starting in P4 and P5 but still ended up with the last two places for points. Daniil Kvyat finished ninth while Daniel Ricciardo claimed the last championship point of the race.
Looks like Ferrari is indeed back, and Mercedes needs to get a tighter grip on its tyre strategy if it wants to build upon the dominant season it had last year. No doubt the team will be hard at work to assess this race and improve in the next, but Ferrari will also be working hard to keep its momentum going. Competition can only be good for the sport and the fans, though, so we hope the two teams, and even the rest of the field, continue to improve and challenge each other.