The 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix provided us with a wide range of interesting and unique statistical information. BadgerGP processed the most important stats for you below…
Daniel Ricciardo wrapped up the fourth win of his Formula One career after Lewis Hamilton’s engine blew up spectacularly on lap 41. It signalled the end of a two-year winless lull, Belgium 2014 being his last win prior to Sepang, for the popular Australian driver. Each of Ricciardo’s wins have come from outside the top three on the grid.
In addition to Ricciardo winning, Red Bull Racing scored their first 1-2 finish since Brazil 2013, their first in the new hybrid-V6 era. Up until Sepang only Mercedes had scored a 1-2 finish in the current turbo-hybrid format.
It also meant this was the first time more than three drivers had scored wins in a single season since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix (53 races ago). Both Mercedes drivers, the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel and the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen also won races that year, joined by the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Time for either Vettel or Raikkonen to get a move on in 2016!
Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen had the chance to win the race, however, a staunch defence from Ricciardo held off the Dutchman who had outqualified him for only the third time since they became team-mates twelve races ago.
Behind the Red Bulls, Nico Rosberg secured a valuable third place (his fourth in Sepang) after being punted off by Vettel on the opening lap and falling last. He’d already made it back up to 17th place by the end of lap 2.
Hamilton’s engine failure and no score means Rosberg now leads the championship by 23 points. This means Hamilton must win every remained race if Rosberg finishes second in each of them if he wants to win a fourth crown.
It was only Hamilton’s second mechanical DNF in 47 races, his last being in the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Rosberg’s last mechanical DNF coming just two races after that in the 2015 Russian Grand Prix. Since 2013 Rosberg has retired from races with 8 total mechanical failures, Hamilton just 4, something you’d think would lay to rest any sabotage claims for car number 44…
Hamilton was in superb form all weekend despite his DNF. His qualifying lap was the fourth fastest to ever be recorded round the Sepang track. He was just 0.268 shy of Fernando Alonso’s all-time best, a lap which was set in the mighty 3.0-litre V10 era. The lap meant an easy pole for Hamilton, a blistering 0-414s ahead of Rosberg, and he became just the second driver in history to bag 100 front row starts, after Michael Schumacher (116).
Kimi Raikkonen finished a distant fourth, his third fourth place in succession. One more fourth in Suzuka would tie him in the list of most successive placing in a position that isn’t first. The current record is jointly held by a number of drivers including Nico Rosberg with 4x second places, Lewis Hamilton with 4x third places and Mark Webber with 4 x fourth places.
The result moved Raikkonen back ahead of team-mate Vettel in the standings, the Finnish driver now sits 7 points ahead of the German. This was also the third time this year Vettel has either retired just before or on the opening lap of the race – Bahrain (engine failure on formation lap) and Russia (crash) joining his Sepang shocker.
In fifth place was Valtteri Bottas. The Finn has been absent from the top five since Canada, where he scored Williams last podium finish. The result was critical for Williams and their chances of beating Force India for fourth in the WCC, however a double points finish – Nico Hulkenberg sixth, Sergio Perez eighth – (their eighth of the year so far) for Force India in Sepang meant they actually gained more points on Williams. The gap between the two in the championship now sitting at just three points!
McLaren scored their third double points finish of the year with Fernando Alonso coming from the back in stunning fashion to bag seventh place, the second time he has done that in four races! Jenson Button celebrated his 300th grand prix start with ninth place.
Button became just the third man to start 300 grand prix, Rubens Barrichello (322) and Michael Schumacher (306) being the other two. Button has the distinction of not having driven for Ferrari to reach that number and the first man to do so entirely in the 21st century.
McLaren showed some promising pace across the weekend, Button having set a best lap that was 7.204s quicker than anything McLaren managed in Sepang last year. Of course the eighteen month gap between the 2015 and 2016 races will have helped that. The team now have 62 points in the championship, more than double the 27 they managed in 2015 and we still have five races to go in 2016.
Fernando Alonso now tellingly sits ahead of Williams’ Felipe Massa in the driver standings in tenth. Massa has been having a nightmare final season in the sport, he’s only scored four points in ten races. His form could be critical for Williams in that fight with Force India in the WCC.
The final point and tenth place went to Jolyon Palmer as he became Britain’s fifty-ninth points scorer in F1 history. It was his first ever F1 point and had been a long time coming after he threw away the chance in Hungary with a spin. He becomes the nineteenth driver to score at least a point in 2016 and it’s the first time since 2012 (Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Paul di Resta) that three British drivers have scored points during a single season.
Unfortunately for Haas they scored their first ever double retirement in Formula One on Sunday. Romain Grosjean was the second casualty of the race on lap 7 with brake failure, team-mate Esteban Gutierrez was forced to pull up on lap 39 with a wheel missing from his car. To add insult to injury the team were unceremoniously handed a $5,000 fine for releasing the car in an unsafe manner from the pits.
Sauber again went pointless, they remain the only team without a single point so far in 2016. However Marcus Ericsson recovered from hitting a chicken while out cycling earlier in the week to give Sauber their best result of 2016 in twelfth place.
Moving onto Japan, Mercedes should clinch their third WCC in a row if they bag a fourth 1-2 of the season. All they have to do is outscore Red Bull by 21 points. Then again, we all thought they’d clinch it with ease in Malaysia and look what happened!