Daniel Ricciardo has won a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix, leading home a Red Bull Racing one-two ahead of Max Verstappen, while Nico Rosberg recovered from a first-lap tangle to finish in third.
While Ricciardo was fending off a pressing Verstappen on fresher hard tyres on Lap 39, Lewis Hamilton’s engine blew up and the World Champion was forced to retire from the lead with 15 laps remaining in the race.
Hamilton had what looked like a certain victory with a comfortable 16 seconds lead over Ricciardo in second, until his engine problem prevented him from re-taking the championship lead over teammate Rosberg.
His stranded Mercedes brought out the Virtual Safety Car for three laps, giving both Red Bulls, Nico Rosberg and Kimi Räikkönen the chance to make another pit stop to jump onto the softer compound tyres for the run to the chequered flag.
The race resumed with 13 laps left to run with Ricciardo leading on a brand new set of soft compound tyres he saved in qualifying, while Verstappen was on a used set that were three laps older.
Verstappen set about catching Ricciardo, however couldn’t close the two second gap to his team mate and settled for second position.
Out of contention for the race win, Rosberg had his work cut out for him to finish on the podium, as he received a 10-second time penalty for his move on Räikkönen into Turn 2, where he made contact with the Ferrari driver on his way past.
It wasn’t the easiest day for Rosberg, as his race was almost ruined by Sebastian Vettel at the start as the Ferrari driver dove into Turn 1 and clipped Rosberg’s Mercedes, spinning the championship leader and sent him to the back of the field.
The German then set about a recovery drive while Vettel retired from the race due to extensive damage to his front left suspension.
Rosberg was able to stretch out his advantage to 13 seconds once the Virtual Safety Car had ended over Räikkönen to secure his podium finish, meaning he will leave Malaysia with a 23-point lead over teammate Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship.
With Vettel out of the race, it was up to Räikkönen to salvage as many points as possible for Ferrari to stay within striking distance of Red Bull Racing in the Constructors’ Championship.
The Finn was just out of the final podium position for the majority of the race, spending the second half fighting off Rosberg’s recovery drive.
Rosberg pitted having only run 11 laps on his second set of hard tyres, prompting Räikkönen to do the same a lap later on Lap 33.
The attempt to cover the Mercedes failed to work for Ferrari as Rosberg passed Räikkönen at Turn 2 on Lap 38 with a brash move that caught the eye of the Stewards, which eventually resulted in a 10-second time penalty for the German.
Valtteri Bottas started the race on the medium compound tyre and ran a long stint of 29 laps to complete a one-stop strategy to finish in fifth place ahead of Fernando Alonso, who started the race last position.
Williams endured mixed fortunes in Malaysia, as his teammate Felipe Massa stalled on the formation lap due to a throttle issue, meaning he would start the race in the pit lane. It went from bad to worse for the Brazilian as a puncture forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop.
Despite the troubles experienced in the race, he managed to finished ahead of Daniil Kvyat in thirteenth position.
Force India ran towards the front of the pack at the beginning of the race courtesy of Sergio Pérez, however, their pace didn’t allow him to fight up there for long as he was quickly passed by Verstappen and Räikkönen.
Being one of the few drivers to use the medium tyre, Pérez took the chequered flag in sixth position, while teammate Nico Hülkenberg finished in eighth.
Jenson Button finished his three-hundredth race in ninth position, while Renault’s Jolyon Palmer scored his first career points as the Briton ended the race in tenth.
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