Grand Prix 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

So after a fairly average season opener the mighty F1 circus roars on to Sepang in Malaysia to write its second chapter where it will hope the main headlines will be made on the track and not off it like in Melbourne. It will also hope for a full grid of 20 cars and for no one to break down on the way to the grid. There is no question that the mighty Merc will be favourite to take a result. When you've got the best car being driven to perfection its hard not to tip them for a win. Already though you have to be concerned about Nico Rosbergs sporting mental state as he was was not only thoroughly beaten by Hamilton on the track but then also took a thrashing from Vettel in the press conference. Whilst we're pretty sure he'll remember to mention Merc's Malaysian backers on the podium(remember last year?) you have to hope for his sake its from the top spot in order to stop the rot that set in about half way through the 2014 season.

Sepang has actually been a stop on the F1 calendar since 1999 with the first race win being gifted to Eddie Irvine by Michael Schumacher. Young Max Verstappen will probably have to spend the next two weeks hearing stories from his dad Jos about how in 2001 in the rain he went from 18th to 6th off the start line in an Arrows and even lead the race at one point before the track became dry again and despite some brave defending he slipped back down to 7th. Speaking of rain, its a fact that Malaysia is notorious for it and I severely doubt will have a weekend without any arriving at all even if they have moved the start time forward to avoid the monsoons. What that will do to the current pecking order at the moment I have no idea but I doubt it will throw Hamilton off course with his current form. Some of the laps he was doing in Australia were sublime to the point of being ridiculous.

In terms of a challenge to Mercedes then all eyes are on Ferrari. Their race pace was a lot better than expected and whilst still a way off you suspect from Vettel's obvious confidence and swagger at the moment that the car feels good and he expects it to get better. He has certainly show himself to be in predator mode and I expect his plan is to be sitting there on Mercedes shoulder in order to take advantage of any error that might creep in. A few digs in the press conference in order to throw them off kilter is a cheeky tactic but not one unheard of. It reminded me very much of 1993 when Prost was complaining about all the car problems he had with his Williams and Senna asked him if he'd like to swap cars for the next race. Kimi has very fond memories of ice cream at Malaysia and I'm sure we'll have some form of t-shirt to remind us all about it going off this year. It was good to see Raikkonen showing the speed we know he has in the first race but now we need him to find some luck from somewhere in order for him to get into the race. Kimi always comes to life when he has a good car and that seems to be the case here. I also think he genuinely gets on with his teammate for a change and I fully expect him to be at the very least sat on Vettel's bumper in a straight race.

The other team people will look at to challenge is Williams who do look in pretty good shape. I still have my doubts whether they will actually give Mercedes a proper race though as due to the involvement of Toto Wolff in both teams I do wonder if Merc and Williams have a Red Bull/Torro Rosso type relationship at current. I do hope I'm wrong and if anyone is going to show me I'm wrong then its probably Bottas. Unfortunately we were robbed of the chance to see what he would do in round 1 due to his back problem. As anyone sporting or not will tell you back problems don't go away quickly so I suspect we'll either not see him at Malysia or we'll see him slightly off form due to being in pain which is also a shame. The debate has already started on who will be in for him if he isn't there with the media jumping up and down at the prospect of the headlines and debate they can splash all over the place if Suzie Wolff is in the car. Personally I hope they give Alex Lynn a shot because he is lightening quick and will be a great addition to the bunch of new drivers we already have on the grid even if it is for just one race. Alternatively they might take the tactic of going for someone who has raced in Grand Prix before. I'm sure JEV has already started following the team on Twitter as of Sunday.

Speaking of the rookies they were one of the massive positive points of Australia and I'm sure Felipe Nasr has already gained a massive load of new fans from that one drive. I think his GP2 drives meant he had a lot already but those none watchers of GP2 probably expected another pay driver but had dropped that idea as soon as they saw the overtake after the safety car. Whatever the out come of the Sauber debate with Van Der Garde I'm pretty sure it won't be Nasr making way. The Torro Rosso boys lit up the weekend too with little Max Verstappen getting all the plaudits and media attention whilst Carlos Sainz actually got the business done on the track. The media loves the idea of a 17 year old coming in and being awesome in F1 so you'll hear far more about Max than Carlos but both of them are on a parr really with Sainz maybe having the edge currently. They are both hitting F1 like a hammer at the moment and it does make you think about all the other drivers they were competing with and being beaten by in junior formulas and how F1 might be a better place for having them in it.

Oh and will Manor actually turn a wheel in Malaysia? I'm sure we're on the edge of our seats to find out.

Anyways Discuss, Javelin, Long Jump!
 
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Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
If the drivers are on two different strategies and for those strategies to work one driver has to let the other through I think a team informing a driver of this is fine as the complement may be returned later in the race, but when team orders are blatantly used to allow the other driver to win a la Alonso/Massa or Schumacher/Rubens then that is a completely different kettle of fish....
 
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Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Premium Contributor
What started this discussion was what sounded like someone saying that Rosberg should give way to Hamilton in the event of his being ahead Mephistopheles, it was made to sound like it was the right thing to do. I just thought that what was wrong for Alonso was being right id it were Hamilton. Maybe I got it wrong though.
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
What was wrong for Alonso/Masa at Hockenheim 2010 was that team orders were illegal at the time, during the period when they were banned after Mr Schumacher and Ferrari brought the sport into disrepute by abusing them at the 2002 Austrian GP. It could also have been argued of the Hockenheim race that Alonso was not clearly enough either ahead of Massa in the championship or faster in the race, to make switching drivers justifiable.

Now team orders are once again legal and F1 is once again a team sport, as it was for the 50 or so pre-Austria years. So if Mercedes were to find themselves in the situation later this season (as they never were last year) where one driver was clearly ahead of his team mate in the points but under a serious title challenge from another driver, they would be daft to let their second driver take points unnecessarily off his teammate.
 

Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Premium Contributor
And if one of them has more points but has been beaten by his team mate in every race where they have both finished which should they favour then? The one whose name begins with R?
 

steveg

Podium Finisher
I agree with all those saying that Hamilton should have been given the mediums for his final stint. You only have to look a the time Nico made up on him during that stint - over 10 seconds - more than Vettels winning margin. Whether the tyres would have lasted is debatable BUT he had a lighter car and a lower track temp (compared to the start) in his favor. Nico was too far behind to be of any threat so there was nothing to lose and everything to gain. Merc can be forgiven over the first pit stop (most punters probably thought at the time that it was Ferrari who made the mistake staying out so that's hindsight), but not for giving Hami the hard tyre at the end which all but gift wrapped Vettel the win and robbed us of a grandstand finish.
 

steveg

Podium Finisher
But the problem is that Nico had a new set of mediums for that stint and Lewis only had a used set, I thought that was made clear by the team radio...
Ok I missed that - had assumed that Nico was also on used mediums. Strange how Nico had new tyres and Hamilton didn't as both drivers had followed the same strategy in qualifying (at least that's how I remember it). Maybe it was FP3.
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
Obviously Bill Boddy there is an almost infinite variety of possible points combinations which could make any decision on team orders difficult, marginal or easy. I'm just discussing the general principle that F1 is a team sport, in which team orders are not only allowable under the rules but will quite likely become essential at some point in the season for one or more teams. It could just as easily happen between Vettel and Raikkonen as between Hamilton and Rosberg.

You can bet that Ferrari won't hesitate to do the necessary as they see fit, when and if the need arises; my point is simply that Mercedes must be prepared to do the same. It may be Hamilton who will have to eventually give way, or it may be Rosberg. At the moment results, demeanour and body language (even after only two races) make it look like the latter is the one most under pressure. I am well aware that anything can happen in Formula 1 and usually does, but that's just the way I see it as of now.
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
Ok I missed that - had assumed that Nico was also on used mediums. Strange how Nico had new tyres and Hamilton didn't
I think they used them differently in the race but I can't be sure, it was probably due to that earlier than usual pitstop caused by the safety car...
 
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teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
Yes, but had he done that, he would have been further behind Vettel when he finally got on to them. The pace was not there to catch up - Vettel's winning margin was practically exactly his margin when Hamilton finally got back past Hulkenburg.
 

rufus_mcdufus

Champion Elect
And the unnecessary pit stop with the early safety car. Though to be fair it did seem a fairly brave decision of Ferrari not to claim the 'free' pit stop, but the extra traffic in front caused by the slower non-stoppers hindered the Mercs by a good ten seconds I reckon.
 
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Boyle

Race Winner
Contributor
I think in light of what happened with Jules Bianchi last they were just being extra cautious about the safety car and therefore I wouldn't call it unnecessary
 

Mephistopheles

Banned
Contributor
If I were running a team I would not pit a car after only four laps safety car or not it is far to early, the tyres weren't even that fragile judging by the number of laps in the stints after the safety car, I think Merc just got too cocky thinking they could win whatever they did...
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
To be fair Meph 14 out of the 19 cars pitted so it was obviously seen as the best tactical move across the board especially as none of the teams left both cars out.
 
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