Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix after a race which never hit any great heights in excitement after Lewis Hamilton was slightly off the pace and his nearest Ferrari rivals had reliability issues which saw Vettel start from the back of the grid and Kimi Raikkonen not start at all.
Once the Red Bull got past the Mercedes early in the race he dominated and cruised for the rest of the afternoon, the rest of the attention for the race was focused on how far up the finishing order Vettel could finish in his charge from the back of the grid, and the usual scrapping in the midfield.
Verstappen will also have the honour of being the last person to win a Malaysian Grand Prix, as the 2017 event is the last race to be held in the country for the foreseeable future.
Time then to see who had a good weekend, a bad weekend, and anything in between with the Good, Bad and Ugly of the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Finally a full good weekend for the Dutchman from start to finish.
He celebrated his scarcely believable 20th birthday during the weekend, and whilst he missed out on pole position on Saturday, beaten by Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, he was gifted an effective second place on the grid when Raikkonen’s failed to get off the grid. And took full advantage.
He didn’t take long to get past Lewis Hamilton either, and once he did in the early stages, with some ease mind you, he simply sailed off into the distance and dominated.
It was a welcome change of luck for Verstappen who has had very little of it in 2017 so far, the most recent bad luck event being the pit straight crash with Vettel and Raikkonen in Singapore two weeks ago. To go with a season of unreliability.
He has now added a race win to go with his qualifying dominance over Daniel Ricciardo. It was a dominant one too, a race win in the style of Hamilton and Vettel.
Some birthday present.
Things are really coming up Lewis at the moment.
Off the pace on Friday, he stormed to his 70th Pole Position on the Saturday, and better still his nearest Championship rival Sebastian Vettel had to start from the back of the grid. Then a likely competitor in Kimi Raikkonen doesn’t get off the grid on the Sunday.
Whilst his Mercedes was a little off the pace, and he was beaten into first by Verstappen, it wasn’t a bad result for a less than great weekend as he extended the lead in the Championship.
Another podium, and he did well to fend off Sebastian Vettel in the end. Showed some pace throughout the weekend across all the sessions, but was outdone by his team mate when it mattered on the Saturday and Sunday.
Did what he does best and took the title of best of the rest, all whiulst battling sickness in one of the season’s hottest races. Job well done, and made up for a few incident filled races in the middle part of the season.
A reasonably trouble free weekend for a change, and the McLaren showed some paced throughout the weekend which allowed the Belgian driver to qualify well and run consistently in the top 10. He eventually finished 7th which was a nice haul of points to start to make up for a tough year so far.
The GP2 Champion from 2016 finally get a race seat, and he started off very well. Faster than established and highly rated teammate Carlos Sainz in both of Friday’s sessions, and only a tenth away in qualifying. Not a bad start to your first go on an F1 race weekend.
He was equally impressive in the race, on the pace of Sainz and the other midfield combatants throughout the race and stayed out of trouble. His eventual finishing position of 14th was a little less than he deserved. His late race battle with the Haas drivers showed he is up for the fight in Formula 1.
His progress will be one to monitor, as this Frenchman can really drive. He may steal some of Renault-bound Carlos Sainz’s thunder before the season is out.
Looked quick in the wet, and were good enough for the win with Max Verstappen in the dry. Primed to cause nuisance value to Ferrari and Mercedes in the final races.
DAY TIME GRAND PRIX
Australian F1 fans work harder than most other countries given the many late night / early morning timeslots, so it is a nice reward to have a grand prix at a more sociable hour for a change.
There’s one more to go with the Japanese Grand Prix next, so enjoy while they are on offer.
Things have really gone downhill for Kvyat in Formula 1. In 2015 he finished ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the F1 Drivers Championship in 7th in a Red Bull car, and scored his podium in the third race of the 2016 season. Two races later he had been demoted back to the junior Toro Rosso team, and watched on as his replacement Max Verstappen won in his first attempt in the same Red Bull he had been driving.
Fast forward to this week and the lowest depth has been reached as the Russian has been replaced by 2016 GP2 Champion Pierre Gasly.
Kvyat will be back for the US Grand Prix due to Pierre Gasly having a clash of commitments, and it may take one spectacular drive to keep his seat for next year. The new Honda deal for Toro Rosso for 2018 may see the Japanese engine manufacturer flex their muscles on driver recruitment.
Things looked good for the German coming into Saturday. He was quickest in P2 and the Mercedes were strangely off the pace. Come Saturday and Vettel had car issues at the end of P3 which fed into Qualifying. With his car unable to get going towards the end of the first part of qualifying he had to settle for a starting position at the back of the grid.
His drive from the back of the grid was super, and his finishing position of Xth was a great reward for a great driver from the back, and he got to show his race craft in the Ferrari, and some of the midfield were quite difficult to get past.
However the end result means he wasted an opportunity on track where the Ferrari looked to be very strong, and worse still despite his race heroics he lost even more Drivers Championship ground on Lewis Hamilton.
His race drive deserved a Good, but the Championship growing to 34 points with 5 races remaining outweighs the good.
Then there is the crash with Lance Stroll after the race had finished as the cars cooled down. the Ferrari left rear was destroyed, and as pointed out in the coverage it could have an effect on the next race as he may need a gearbox change. It was another unnecessary crash, of which the German has been involved in a few times this season.
Things looked good for the Finn coming into the race. A quick Ferrari, second place on the grid, a great chance to possibly win his first race of the season and help out his team mate in the process.
Unfortunately once again, Kimi received the worse of the luck at Ferrari and his car didn’t even get off the starting grid and he failed to join the race at all.
At least Vettel got the chance to make up for the car failure on Saturday from the back of the grid. Kimi had no such luxury.
Two drivers in the bad means team in the bad. Mechanical issues stopped a potential 1-2 given their pace and Mercedes’ lack of it.
The Force India driver had an eventful race, tangling with a few drivers on his Sunday afternoon drive.
None of the incidents ended up with major damage or a penalty, but it resulted in some lost time and positions and we was well behind his beloved team mate Sergio Perez who finished 6th in the other Force India.
Talking of eventful, the Danish driver seems to losing friends throughout the grid with his forceful driving, and sometimes less than civilised responses to the incidents. It’s hard to impress in a Haas, but he could do without making a certain type of impression. He blamed this week’s crash on Jolyon Palmer, and probably not without justification, but he’s been responsible for plenty in 2017.
LOOSE DRAIN COVER
Driving in Malaysia is hard enough without a drain cover coming loose. After the first session was rain affected, the second session featured a big moment when the loose drain cover destroyed the Haas of Romain Grosjean.
The car and track were repaired, but it was scary moment for the unlucky Frenchman.
MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
Here is where we tally up all the good, bad and ugly for the season.
- 1 Point for Good
- 1 Point for Bad
-0.5 for Ugly
There are bonus points as below. Drivers/Teams listed below have received a good and/or bad-ugly. Those with an overall score of 0 have had good and bad. Those not listed have been mediocre and been neither good or bad all season.
ULTIMATE WINNERS AND LOSERS
Here’s where an extra bonus point is added and subtracted for the very best and very worst.
WINNER – Max Verstappen. Finally avoids an accident and car failures to win on his birthday.
LOSER – Ferrari. Have probably lost the titles with this weekend’s issues.
2017 MARTINI-CHAVES MEDAL FOR GURGLER BEST/WORST OF THE YEAR
MARTINI MEDAL FOR BEST
CHAVES MEDAL FOR WORST
10.5 Points – Lewis Hamilton
6.5 Points – Valtteri Bottas
5.5 Points – Dan Ricciardo
4 Points – Sergio Perez
3.5 Points – Fernando Alonso
3 Points – Sebastian Vettel
3 Points – Felipe Massa
2.5 Point – Carlos Sainz
2.5 Point – Lance Stroll
1.5 Points – Nico Hulkenberg
1 Points – Kevin Magnusson
1 Point – Esteban Ocon
1 Point – Pascal Wehrlein
1 Point – Jenson Button
1 Point – Stoffel Vandoorne
1 Point – Pierre Gasly
0 Points – Max Verstappen
0 Points Romain Grosjean
-1 Point – Antonio Giovanazzi
-2 Points – Marcus Ericsson
-4 Points – Dani Kvyat
-5 Points – Kimi Raikkonen
-5.5 Points – Jolyon Palmer
4 Points – Mercedes
2 Points – Force India
0 Points – Haas
-1 Point – Red Bull
-1 Point – Ferrari
-1 Point – Toro Rosso
-1.5 Points – FIA
-2 Points – Renault
-3.5 Points – Sauber
-5 Points – Williams
-6 Points – McLaren