Grand Prix 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Malaysia was the second country in Asia to be awarded a Formula One race in 1999. The success of the race at Sepang was the cue for the expansion throughout Asia of Formula One, with varying levels of success.

2017 sees Malaysia say goodbye to Formula One as the owners of the Sepang circuit sensibly believe that their finances would be better served if Moto GP provided the sole blue riband event at their circuit. This is, of course, an indictment on Formula One more than those who are rightly looking out for their circuit's best interests.

Down the years, this circuit has seen many notable events. Its inaugral race saw Michael Schumacher's return from injury only to give the win up to team-mate and accidental title-challenger Eddie Irvine, with the Ferraris disqualified then reinstated in a move that conviniently restored a title decider at Suzuka. Schumacher was also at the vanguard of the Ferrari comeback from a poor stacked pit-stop in the wet in 2001, with he and Barrichello carving through the field with their Bridgestone intermediate tyres.

2002 saw Schumacher and Montoya clash at turn one, allowing Schumacher's brother to take a win. Kimi Raikkonen took his début win in the year-old McLaren in 2003. Giancarlo Fisichella took a rare win in 2006 sandwiching two Fernando Alonso victories.

The decision to change the time of the Grand Prix to cater for a European audience fundamentally affected Sepang for a while. The new time was at monsoon o'clock in the tropics, meaning the 2009 Grand Prix was washed out half-way through. It meant a half-point victory for Jenson Button, ice-cream for Kimi Raikkonen and a "calm down, Felipe, baby" from Rob Smedley. 2012 was also wet, with the much-maligned Ferrari of Alonso holding off the challenge of Sergio Perez' Sauber when the Mexican lost time slipping off-line.

The story of the 2010s in Malaysia has been about the dominance of one man in particular: Sebastian Vettel. He's taken the honours in 2010, 2011 and amid strategic brilliance in 2015 but his most memorable victory is undoubtedly the Multi 21 race in 2013 where both Red Bull in 1st and 2nd and Mercedes in 3rd and 4th issued team-orders to stay put. Nico Rosberg did not attack his team-mate Hamilton but Vettel famously passed his furious Australian team-mate Mark Webber, who was naturally caught by surprise since he'd been told that his colleague would not attack him.

Lewis Hamilton has not found the circuit to be to his liking. It often favoured rival teams such as Ferrari or Red Bull, and 2016 saw the heartbreak of an engine failure clearing the way for Daniel Ricciardo to win the race, and Nico Rosberg to "settle for second" after Suzuka. His win in the most dominant Mercedes in 2014 remains his sole honours at the circuit.

After "losing serve" at Singapore, it is vital for Vettel that he beats Hamilton practically everywhere. Hamilton's 28 point lead is handily equal to the gap between first and second four times, meaning that even if Vettel wins five races and finishes second to Hamilton in the other, he still needs Hamilton to fail to follow him home at least once. Red Bulls and Bottas would complicate the situation mightily.

Further down the table, Sergio Perez is now level with Max Verstappen in the championship, utilising the exalted tactic of actually finishing races to reel in the young Dutchman. Verstappen, meanwhile, would be forgiven for punching walls worldwide.

Carlos Sainz' excellent fourth place at Singapore means the four-way battle between Williams, Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas is for fifth in the championship is yet again tightened. With Williams' current poor form, I would suggest that one may well be won by whichever constructor is employing Carlos Sainz for the last six races.

Whatever happens, farewell Sepang. Formula One will miss you.
 

marksawatsky

Podium Finisher
Contributor
The Ferrari seems to be the better car this year and it's only Lewis driving better and more maturely than ever keeping the Mercedes ahead. I enjoyed this race and the drama during practice, qualifying and post race only added to my interest. The last part of the season looks to be exciting.
 

Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Contributor
There could be another reason for the Mercedes cars being slow during free practice and the early part of the race. This is the one that was expounded over the race weekend by the BBC radio commentators that one of the main causes could be that Mercedes have difficulty on "green" circuits. This would account for what happened at Sepang, the track kept on being washed clean of rubber by the rain, then as it got rubbered in the performance of the Mercedes cars improved.

This would account for the slow times in the free practice sessions and the early part of the race against Hamilton's performance in qualifying and not only being overtaken at the start but also being outpaced by so much during the opening laps.
 

Rutherford

Podium Finisher
The Ferrari seems to be the better car this year and it's only Lewis driving better and more maturely than ever keeping the Mercedes ahead. I enjoyed this race and the drama during practice, qualifying and post race only added to my interest. The last part of the season looks to be exciting.
Hamilton has been excellent this year and he's driving more maturely than Vettel. However, the Mercedes has been the stronger car throughout the season.
Bottas on the other hand, he needs to up his game pronto or else he might find himself at Williams next season. His performances have been abysmal since the summer break.

On a side note, Gasly did really well, considering that his drink system failed during the race.
 
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cousinDave

Points Scorer
Hamilton has been excellent this year and he's driving more maturely than Vettel. However, the Mercedes has been the stronger car throughout the season.
Bottas on the other hand, he needs to up his game pronto or else he might find himself at Williams next season. His performances have been abysmal since the summer break.

On a side note, Gasly did really well, considering that his drink system failed during the race.

... and he had a bad back.
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
Some wag on another forum has claimed that Vettel's crash was no mistake, but a cunning way of avioding having the stewards check the car over, as it was actually Kimi's car with his numbers on, as Ferrari couldn't get his repaired overnight.

Now I'm sure it's total BS, but hey scurrilious rumours are fun!

I heard Williams were offered free Merc engines if one of their drivers totalled Vettels Ferrari for the next race. They waited until they'd scored points and then did it to get best of both worlds. True fact.
 

Rutherford

Podium Finisher
Some wag on another forum has claimed that Vettel's crash was no mistake, but a cunning way of avioding having the stewards check the car over, as it was actually Kimi's car with his numbers on, as Ferrari couldn't get his repaired overnight.
The funny thing is that Kravitz said that Raikkonen had the same issue as Vettel did on Saturday, because of which Raikkonen didn't start... sooo yeah...
 

RasputinLives

Leave me alone I'm on Smoko
Contributor
It's a great conspiracy theory but it forgets one thing. Each car has a unique transponder fitted by the FIA to keep track of timings and position on the track which registers the drivers name (Palmer's has been going wonky of late). So it wouldn't just have been a case of swapping numbers. They would have had to remove and swap an FIA fitted piece of technology between parc ferme conditions and getting the car to the grid unnoticed by all the officials and media around them.

It's a fun theory but a load of cobblers.

Unlike my Williams/Merc sabotage theory which is of course correct ;)
 

sobriety

Pole Sitter
Ah, but weren't they working on 'Vettels' car overnight to fit a complete new engine. You know how it goes, FiA observer gets tired and pops out for a coffee (or someone bungs them a brown envelope full of non-sequential €500 notes) and presto! Things get swapped.

;)
 

marksawatsky

Podium Finisher
Contributor
Some wag on another forum has claimed that Vettel's crash was no mistake, but a cunning way of avioding having the stewards check the car over, as it was actually Kimi's car with his numbers on, as Ferrari couldn't get his repaired overnight.

Now I'm sure it's total BS, but hey scurrilious rumours are fun!
Wouldn't it be awesome of this turned out to be true? I wouldn't even be upset, I would admire that kind of cunning. I wish they would go back to letting teams have a spare car for times like this when Kimi could have started the race.
 

cider_and_toast

Exulted Lord High Moderator of the Apex
Staff Member
Premium Contributor
It's the scourge of social media mate. You only have to look at the main online news media sites and see that half of their 'so-called' stories are nothing more than a batch of tweets and a come click me headline.
 
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