A disaster of a day for championship leaders Mercedes-AMG Petronas and also Scuderia Ferrari turned into one of Red Bull’s Racing’s best in years.
RBR’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen recorded a 1-2 finish in Sunday’s 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, the teams first 1-2 since 2013. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg earned valuable championship points with a third place result, but the German had to fight harder for the podium than he did for many of his wins this season.
Rosberg was forced to make up valuable track position after getting turned around in Turn 1 on the first lap. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel got a quick start when the lights went out and moved to the inside of Verstappen, but ran out of space and ended up clipping Rosberg’s right rear tire. The contact spun Rosberg and knocked him down to last, while also breaking the suspension of Vettel’s Ferrari and forcing him to retire.
The incident at Turn 1 set the stage for the remainder of the race. With Rosberg forced into recovery mode, his teammate Lewis Hamilton was well out front with the two Red Bull’s in hot pursuit. The 2015 world champion pulled out a 22.7 second lead over Ricciardo by the 40th lap, very nearly enough to pit for fresh rubber and re-enter the track still ahead of the Red Bull.
That pit stop would never come, however. As he approached Turn 1 on Lap 41, Hamilton’s Mercedes engine expired in a fiery fashion, forcing the Briton to park the car on grass and bringing out the virtual safety car. Ricciardo then moved into the lead and after keeping a determined Verstappen at bay, took his first win of 2016.
Rosberg recovered for third after passing Raikkonen on Lap 38. The move was far from pretty, however, with the German bumping the Fin out of the way and receiving a subsequent 10-second penalty. Raikkonen suffered damage in the collision, making it impossible for the Ferrari to stay within 10-seconds of Rosberg. Raikkonen would turn up fourth, with Williams’ Valteri Bottas rounding out the top five.
Formula 1 heads to Japan next for the Japanese Grand Prix from Suzuka. Click here for full results from the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.