It’s the Badgerometer! Our TOP 5 from the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix
What’s Happened To Nico?
The weekend started with the revelation that he uses a sanitary towel as a sweatband throughout sessions, and finished with a deflated run to third place, firmly beaten by his World Champion teammate yet again – where’s the 2014 version of Nico Rosberg gone?
That Nico wouldn’t have stumbled over slower cars, or misjudged his braking under heavy fuel into Turn One. How much would the race have changed if he’d kept off the brakes and passed Sebatian Vettel at the start? And this uncertainty crept into qualifying too – would he have tripped over his teammate in any of the sessions last season?
The season is still early and there’s a long way to go, but Nico just doesn’t look up for the fight.
Welcome Returns All Round
Dani Kyvatt made the start and Valterri Bottas overcame his back injury, but there were two more notable comebacks in Sepang.
Manor GP finally overcame their software issues from Australia to get their cars on track and into the race for Malaysia. Although they had to apply to race after finishing outside the 107% cut-off – and failed to get Will Stevens even on to the grid – Robert Mehri still managed to get his car home three laps down in 15th. Not bad at all, considering the car was in bits with auction tags barely 4 weeks ago!
Fernando Alonso was the other name returning to the track after missing Australia with concussion. His moment in the sun came on Thursday, where he was grilled by the world’s press about the crash in Barcelona that stopped him from racing.
It was all a bit strange, wasn’t it? Fernando not only moved away from all the conspiracy theories and confirmed everything that McLaren had stated already, but instead he contradicted it all to cast more doubt on the situation. Is the relationship with the rocky past already off to a rockier start?
Are Red Bull Crumbling?
It wasn’t a great race for Red Bull – not only were they beaten on track by their main rivals, but they also had to suffer the embarrassing result of finishing behind both of their young upstart sister-team drivers of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz. Not a good day at the office.
Add to that, the once-dominate team now has to contend with a relationship with Renault that is bordering on toxic. The French marque have now cast a veiled threat of their own in regards to leaving the sport, which puts Red Bull firmly on the back foot – all of sudden Renault could withdraw and leave them with no engine, and only Honda looking to be a safe bet.
Think of this too – what if Renault buy Toro Rosso and withdraw supply from Red Bull? All of a sudden, the empire would be vanquished. Scary.
Mercedes Are Human After All…
It’s absolutely fantastic that Ferrari won in Malaysia (more on the later), but it was even greater to see the simple fact that Mercedes can make mistakes.
As the race weekend unfolded they started to tot up and chip away at their confidence. Off the top of our heads we could list;
Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg nearly colliding in qualifying
Rosberg’s track position confusion, not knowing he was racing with Sebastian Vettel
Hamilton losing count of the number of tyres he had after his last stop
Paddy Lowe’s mistake in telling Lewis he had to pit one more time
Lewis’ “don’t bother me while cornering” rant at the pitwall
It’s a welcome relief to know that the fastest car out there can be hobbled by human error – whether on not it’ll happen again this season (now Mercedes know they need to improve) is another question entirely.
…As Seb and Ferrari Breath New Life Into F1
Sebastian Vettel’s first Ferrari win was the culmination of a perfect F1 storm; an established World Champion driver racing for a team desperate for success, with a rich history, which the driver idolises. That was why the emotions and tears were so heartfelt – this victory meant the world to everyone involved.
It was the classic Vettel we all know and (some of us) love. Aided by the spinning Marcus Ericsson and the resultant Safety Car, he knew his tyres would last longer in the heat thanks to the Ferrari’s design and capitalised on Mercedes’ errors in strategy to pass not one, but both, on track to win.
It’s exactly what the sport needed – a fairytale story – so soon after the apparent indication that Mercedes would walk it. And it was absolutely bloody brilliant.