Was it ever really in doubt? Were Mercedes ever not going to win the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend? The team finally delivered the result that had been predicted for many months: a one-two finish, Hamilton ahead of Rosberg. Total dominance.
In fact, that was the common theme of the entire Malaysian Grand Prix weekend. In every session – from FP1 to the race itself, and including each of the individual qualifying sessions – a Mercedes car finished with the fastest time. In the dry, the W05 car was in a league of its own as Lewis Hamilton eased to just his second win for the team by 17 seconds.
The only threat to the Silver Arrow show came from a resurgent Sebastian Vettel, who did close on Nico Rosberg in second place at one point. However, Rosberg was given the call to push, and push he did as he slowly eked out a gap that gave him plenty of breathing space.
Daniel Ricciardo appears to have replaced Mark Webber in more ways than one at Red Bull, with the Australian’s luckless form continuing in Malaysia. After being disqualified from the Australian Grand Prix, Ricciardo seemed set for fourth place on Sunday after making a good start and easily keeping Fernando Alonso at bay. However, at his final stop, a problem on his front-left tire meant that he had to be held for further repairs, costing him a whole lap. It got worse:
- Upon returning to the track in 14th place, Ricciardo then suffered a front wing failure, forcing him to pit.
- Just after pitting for repairs, the stewards handed Ricciardo a five second stop-go penalty, forcing him to come in again to serve it.
- Red Bull then opted to retire his car with just five laps to go.
- Finally, the stewards have given him a 10 place grid penalty for the Bahrain Grand Prix next weekend – just for good measure.
Of course, the safety aspect is an important one, as we saw at the German Grand Prix last year, so these sanctions were fair. It was just a luckless day for Ricciardo given that he did nothing wrong.
The stage could be set for a Mercedes versus Red Bull tussle for the 2014 Formula 1 championships. Two races in, and the new era of the sport is already shaping up nicely.