Start, Sepang International Circuit, 2014

Malaysian Grand Prix fails to excite

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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Start, Sepang International Circuit, 2014After an average start to the season in Australia the Rate the Race score for round two went down instead of up.

It wasn’t the lowest-rated Malaysian Grand Prix since Rate the Race began, but its average score of 5.896 wasn’t that much higher than the rain-shorted 2009 grand prix received. It’s also lower than all bar four of last year’s 19 races, which doesn’t bode well for the year ahead.

Is this the shape of things to come under the new rules? Or were the circumstances of a threat of rain that never arrived and Mercedes stealing a march on their rivals responsible for a race that lacked sparkle?

And will that change in the next race in Bahrain, scene of last year’s highest-rated race?

Here’s what F1 Fanatic readers made of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Fuel and tyre conservation

This is “Accountancy F1”.

I’ve been obsessive with F1 at times. Love driving, have a pile of F1 PlayStation 3 sim games and still find that exciting. The cars just don’t look that quick and the sound has no excitement or passion. The commentary is like someone going over a balance sheet.
Paul Osborne (@paulo-fandango)

While the opening laps were intriguing, somehow the race just failed to deliver. All too quickly the cars were evenly spread out, and we got the radio messages to “hold the gap at two seconds to save tyres”.

The first and last ten laps were very good. Fernando catching Hulkenberg, and Massa and Bottas’s intra-team battle was great.

Terribly unlucky for Ricciardo, but hey, that’s motor racing. And hey! Kobayashi drove brilliantly!

Just seemed like too much tyre and fuel saving. Especially the tyres.
Chris (@Tophercheese21)


Boring race, stupid penalties (which are killing the sport).
F1 is getting emasculated by its rules, its tracks, its penalties.

That penalty to Magnussen was a travesty.
Chad (@Chaddy)

Engine noise

FOM has definitely altered the sound levels on the microphones. In Australia you could barely hear the cars during the race while the commentators were talking, yet this weekend the cars sounded just as loud over the TV as they ever did last year – which obviously isn’t true in person. I actually like the sound of the new engines but it would be better if it was louder. Personally I don’t get why anyone even liked last years engine sound. It was just unrelenting, piercing noise – and not even decent noise, just a bland high pitched screech (and yes I have heard them in person).

Impressive drive by Hamilton, and some interesting battles going on elsewhere, a bit of rain could have really spiced things up though. Really love the sound of the new engines, would be nice if they could turn the track volume up a little bit versus the commentary.

Red Bull are not as far off Mercedes as everyone seems to think, the car was quicker through the middle section of the lap, so on the right track things will get very interesting. The battle for second was close between Vettel and Rosberg at points; Rosberg wasn’t walking away from them until the late stages of the race. Shaping up to be an interesting season.
Sam Andrew

New graphics

A good start, with Vettel giving Rosberg just enough room, then nearly losing out to Ricciardo and Alonso.

FOM giving the fans a graphic that they definitely needed in the fuel usage graphic. Definitely helped in painting the picture of the race and hinting at the season.

Ricciardo again showing he’s a great choice, only being let down by the team.

Bottas, Raikkonen, Kobayashi, Grosjean etc all fighting their way through the field. Great battles at the end of the race between Raikkonen/Grosjean and Massa/Bottas.

After the great start, it just died off. I think it could have gotten more spicy towards the end, but because the teams feared rain, they extended their stints just enough to protect from rain, which meant that strategy wouldn’t help bring the pack together. It felt like one of those slow burners that might have an exciting conclusion, but the conclusion never came.

Some of the things I really liked:
Ricciardo made an average start but brilliant positioning allowed him to take Vettel and threaten Rosberg around the first few bends.
Vettel catching Rosberg and may even have had a shot at him if it wasn’t for the yellow flag at the hairpin.
Massa and Bottas’s race-long struggles to get past first one McLaren and then the next – and most of all each other.
Cars twitching everywhere out of the corners and the drivers really struggling with them. Magnificent.
Hulkenberg’s brave tyre strategy.
Alonso’s brilliant racecraft (but this is normal, I suppose).
Kvyat continued to impress.
The suspense of Grosjean’s battle with Raikkonen: would Raikkonen get past? Would Grosjean even get to the finish line?
And Kobayashi’s brilliant 13th place

Some of the things I didn’t much like:
The coverage showing someone (Button?) driving into the entrance of pit lane when Vettel/Ricciardo/Alonso were all battling for position at the other end of the straight.
The instruction to Ricciardo to change the engine mapping when he was getting too close to Vettel – for the sake of energy harvesting, of course.
The fuel usage displays – I would prefer this to be kept a secret from the teams so they always have to worry about a surprise from one of the others. Doesn’t really add anything to the coverage for fans except to remind the malcontents that some drivers “might” be conserving fuel. (There was far less this year than last.)

But the thing which really gets my goat:
Live timing on – this is going very close to ruining the coverage for me. Live sector timing tells all you need to know about how the cars are performing: you can always tell who is catching who and by how much right through the field right through the race. Without this I have to rely on the television coverage and, frankly, just showing one or two cars on a TV screen is not nearly enough. Formula One is really doing the fans a massive disservice with this.

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    45 comments on “Malaysian Grand Prix fails to excite”

    1. I am surprised. I personally thought that the Malaysian Grand Prix was better than Australian Grand Prix.

      But then, I think over the years, Australian Grand Prix has tended to get higher scores simply because it is the first race of the season. People are just glad for F1 to be back.

      1. That’s what I thought too. While it was far from spectacular, I at least didn’t dose off at the end (which hadn’t happened to me in a very long while…)

      2. knoxploration
        2nd April 2014, 15:27

        To answer the question posited in the article, “Yes, this is the shape of things to come”.

        We have a team more dominant then anything we’ve seen since the McLaren Honda era. They are easily a second per lap ahead of their nearest rivals even with the engines turned down and the drivers coasting. And they are ahead because of a part that can’t be improved without testing, is homologated and can’t be changed without begging anyway, and is supply-limited so will cause the teams trying to catch up to have grid penalties later in the season due to their need to test during the races now.

        This is only going to get worse, not better.

        1. Agree with most of your comments, with a couple of caveats. I think there will still be good racing behind the Mercedes, with Redbull, Ferrari, McLaren, Williams and Force India all looking like being in a similar performance range, varying per track.

          But i hope that the key difference will be if Rosberg can put up a decent fight against Hamilton. If all races go like Malaysia, then yes it could be a boring season, but i hope Rosberg just had setup issues and/or will be able to push Hamilton on most other tracks.

          1. knoxploration
            2nd April 2014, 23:09

            That’s a good point worth noting. In the middle of the field, there will probably be some actual racing — the problem is that the constructos’ championship is effectively decided already. (And I highly doubt Mercedes are going to treat the driver’s championship as a race between their drivers for any length of time — not as cautiously as they’re already taking things despite their total dominance. Hence the driver’s championship will likely be decided before long, too.)

            Sadly, for most fans (myself included), those championships are the important thing — the midfield can add spice to an already-good championship, but it can’t make up for a good championship.

          2. There is no evidence , but I believe maybe that Rosberg had tyre issues immediately after that opening move with Vettel . No contact . Maybe some debris close to the pit wall ? We will never know . An issue-less Rosberg and Hamilton battling will be a good fight in itself .

        2. Mercedes aren’t ahead of McLaren and Williams because of their engine. And with in-season testing it’s not necessary to ‘test during the races’ at the risk of reliability.

          1. knoxploration
            2nd April 2014, 22:54

            No, they’re ahead of McLaren, Williams and Force India because all of those teams were already struggling as midfield teams (or worse, in Williams’ case), before this season.

            The very fact that Williams — a team which has spent the last three seasons as a clear backmarker, besting only the near-hopeless debutante teams — has suddenly vaulted its way up to 4th in the championship after two races (a position it’s not managed in the best part of a decade) tells you that this is largely about the engine.

      3. I thought it was better too. I think partly because I had *such* high hopes and excitement for Australia, my expectations were tempered a little this time. But I thought the first stint was good. It’s true it calmed down significantly thereafter, but overall I wouldn’t say it was that dull.

      4. Australia had the thrill of the first race. But Malaysia was still worse imo – in Australia you had a few decent fights for positions including 2nd. In Sepang for most of the race the gaps in the field were just too big to make it interesting.

    2. I thought The Australian GP was probably rated higher because “unkown” drivers were up at the front. Now the usual suspects were driving the whole race it’s the same “boring” faces again on the podium.

    3. I watched the race on iPlayer, having carefully avoided the result. Unhelpfully, the BBC put a photo of the start (similar to the one above) on the page for the programme, instantly revealing that Rosberg passes Vettel (but not Hamilton) off the start line.

      A shame, since that is one of the few interesting things that happened in the race…

      1. I did the same thing but thankfully didn’t really look at the photo, or if i did i only glanced and assumed it was a previous race. I have several gripes with BBC’s highlights on iplayer, which is how i usually have to watch the races:

        1) It seems to take an inordinate amount of time for them to make it available even after it has been shown on TV. I remember last year sometimes having to wait until Monday to see the race, even when highlights had been shown in afternoon or evening on sunday. It is quite hard to avoid hearing results for that long!

        2) This is a new one from the Australia race, but i noticed the online tv schedule and the actual tv schedule were an hour out of sync. I had checked online, rushed home to see the race (at 2pm i think), only to find it wasn’t on the TV. When i went on iplayer the race was showing on that at the advertised time, but it didn’t start on the TV until 3pm. Weird…

        3) Uhm, can’t think of much right now, i’m sure there’s more. But in the absense of anything iplayer related, here’s some more – bring back Gary Anderson, and lets have all the races back live on my license money rather than £60 a month for all the sky packages you need just for F1. Many thanks!

        1. Nice post. On point 3, I totally agree. It is sad the most people can’t see a few years ahead of them. If they thought for a couple a seconds they would have boycotted Sky. A year or two of inconvenience maybe but then Sky would have dropped F1 to the benefit of all. But the selfish few are willing to support anything in the name of F1. Sky will ratchet up the price to maximise it’s profits as more people ditch them.

          1. I’d rather F1 stays on Sky myself, There bringing me the best F1 coverage I’ve had since the ppv service ended in 2002.

            Every session live & interactive (on red button, online & ipad), Loads of extra onboard camera channels (love watching the onboard shots), the fabulous pit lane channel (with its brilliant team radio) & all of the gp2/gp3 sessions live & uninterrupted.

            and were now getting a classic gp shown at 9pm every night :)

            i love sky sports f1 & hope its around long term!

            1. oh & i know bbc has the onboard & pit lane feeds, but there only there for qualifying & the race & there only available on the website or connected tv.

              i love having all the extra stuff for practice & having them all on the red button to flick between on my tv without having to worry about buffering or the feed been 20+ seconds behind the tv coverage as the bbc’s online videos tend to be.

              i also can’t stand david coulthards commentary on the bbc, i like ben edwards but i cant stand dc.
              think croft & brundle are much better.

        2. Everyone loved Gary Anderson, so they dropped him. His web articles were also fantastic and to the point… Maybe that was a problem for the beeb.

          1. I wasn’t a fan, he was often too far off the mark to be a reliable source.

    4. I think I’m among the minority who actually think the quieter engine sound is interesting; as viewers we can now hear the lock up’s, the vibrations and the more subtle sounds in the engine. So that for me is not a problem.

      Another thing that is not a problem for me is one team dominating. It goes in fits and starts, what people forget is that during the “Schumacher-era”, we actually had some great seasons, 2000 and 2003 were actually very close indeed. As such, the last four years has seen some astonishingly exciting races and two more very close season’s in 2010 and 2012. Just because the name on the trophy is the same come the end of the season does not mean it hasn’t been close. Mercedes are on top now, but, looking to history again, the Brawn team dominated 50% of the 2009 season and it was a thrill to see if they could fight off the resurgent Red Bull’s. So as I say, rampant winners is not a problem for me.

      What, in my opinion, is a problem is the shocking and deterioring standard of the stewarding. I fail to understand why, using Ricciardo as an example, they penalised him in the race and then felt the need to ruin his next weekend with a further penalty. They need to look at each incident in turn. There was no-one else in the pit lane when he was ‘unsafely’ released and frankly I thought the stop-go was harsh, let alone the grid drop. The stewards seem to have forgotten the term ‘racing incident’… blame doesn’t have to be apportioned every time.

      1. W (@yesyesyesandyesagain)
        2nd April 2014, 14:48

        They need to look at each incident in turn. There was no-one else in the pit lane when he was ‘unsafely’ released and frankly I thought the stop-go was harsh, let alone the grid drop.

        We almost watched a man die live on TV last year. What if Ricciardo had driven out of the pits only to have the tire come off on track and strike another driver in the head? Tires coming off is massively dangerous and any team sending a car off without all tires properly attached should be severely punished; this is one regulation that should be black and white, you either secure all four tires or you don’t. I’m a Red Bull fan and I am fine with the punishment because I believe it fits the crime.

        1. knoxploration
          2nd April 2014, 15:21

          What’s wrong here is that it was clearly not intentional, not caused by reckless behavior, and the team didn’t profit from it — the very opposite, in fact. Red Bull have been punished twice for an incident they themselves stopped as quickly as they could communicate the issue.

          The double penalty would be appropriate for reckless behavior (release into another car’s path, driving two abreast in the pit lane, or leaving the pit lane with a known unsafe car.) It is not appropriate otherwise.

          What next, a grid drop for accidentally cutting a chicane even though you lost time in the process?

          1. W (@yesyesyesandyesagain)
            2nd April 2014, 16:31

            The gunman was clearly waving his hands indicating there was a problem and the car was released. They were in too much of a hurry and need to slow down and be %100 positive all wheels are attached before the car is released. Yes it was an accident, but no one is forcing them to go so fast that they are not taking the time to be safe. If the gunman made a mistake and signaled that the tire was ready to go even though it was not, then they are going too fast to safely make a decision. I’m sure Ricciardo and the team would much rather have that gunman take his time and do his job right %100 of the time, even if that means he is a second slower. There is simply too much at stake to brush these things off as simple accidents given how frequently this has occurred in recent years following the elimination of refueling and the increased focus on changing tires as fast as possible.

        2. Agreed. Red bull need to slow down their stops to make sure… End off. The fact it was unintentional should not come into it.

      2. I fail to understand why, using Ricciardo as an example, they penalised him in the race and then felt the need to ruin his next weekend with a further penalty.

        As far as I am aware, this is not down to the stewards. The rules say that an unsafe release gets a grid penalty, plus a stop & go if they are able to continue.

        Glad to be corrected if I’m wrong, though.

      3. Anyone seen an onboard of Ricciardo that showed whether he could tell from his vantage that the wheel wasn’t on before he took off? (I’m not implying one way or the other that it’s his responsibility, but I’m curious.)

      4. It’s in teh regulations that its a drive through and a grid drop – it acts as a deterrent to an un safe release, which could of killed someone last year..

    5. I always hate when commentators speculate that rain is on the way, more often than not it doesn’t arrive and it always dampens (pun intended) the mood of the race.
      It’s too early to be judging the new regulations anyway, I’m giving it at least until halfway through the season to compare it to previous years.

      1. Yeah, I’m waiting for the excitement of something new to wear off (that ‘honeymoon’ period, I suppose); I find the new formula intriguing, and the races have definitely been ‘tense’ at times.

        I’m very curious to see how things develop throughout the season. I’m over the noise, the looks, even the speed (seeing driver’s fight their cars is much more exciting to me than them travelling full-throttle, glued to the track at a higher speed).

    6. The race was dry and as history shows dry Malaysian gps don’t offer much in wheel to wheel racing. Last year the race was poor as well but to some people the drama around the team orders was enough to award better ratings. I noticed that too nick uk and I agree with you. The fuel graphic is great but as teams said fuel wasn’t a factor in Malaysia.

      1. I agree, most Malaysian GP’s aren’t spectacular unless it rains e.g. 2012. Lets see what happens when they go to Montreal, we’ve only had two races. Neither of them were great but its only the first two races. Lets just wait and see.

      2. @peartree, last year offered some great racing. Vettel vs Webber was one of the best overtakes of the year. Not that one overtake makes a good race, but still, it wasn’t bad at all.

        1. One daredevil-overtake can make a good race for me, especially if that overtake is for P1!

    7. I like how FOM handled the sound for this race. I have been watching F1 since the 80’s and the Turbo cars then sounded a lot like the 2014 cars.

      I do hope that the FAI reevaluates the rules for 2015. Limit the turbo size and max boost to keep total power unit output less than 800hp, Increase fuel load to 130kg, remove fuel flow limitation, let Pirelli supply the best tires they can (high traction, low deg), Keep the rule requiring the prime and option tires to be run. Create rule that an Option tire stint may not be more than 1/3 the race distance.

      1. I’m with you on your engine and fuel changes for next year. They would go a long way to improving the racing, and probably even ramp up the exhaust note a bit as well.

    8. Watching the Indycar opening race in Florida, and naturally comparing it to the Malaysian GP, I finally realised why I’ve enjoyed that series so much more than F1 over the last couple of years.

      Everyone looks like they’re enjoying themselves, like they want to be there to race and have fun. Watching the build up was actually entertaining with drivers wandering around randomly chatting to each other, the crowd and the cameras. The commentators are genuinely funny and seem to just love watching a motor race. Even after the race when the big topic was Will Power’s bizarre restart, the drivers were talking openly, honestly and even with smile on their face.

      I couldn’t help think of the F1 build up and aftershow. And everyone looks outright depressed. The drivers emerge from their private rooms only when forced to by the teams or the FIA. They don’t seem to like each other. They don’t seem to be looking forward to the race. Most interviews are PR speak mixed with non-answers. Even the commentators seem to be pretty non-plussed and the “pundit” role now seems to basically involve sounding bored and being Captain Obvious (please someone get Johnny Herbert in the box to lighten it all up!)

      Maybe it’s because they’ve been forced to starve themselves by the ridiculous rulebook, or maybe it’s because every one of them has been dragged though some sort of controversy by their team, the rules or the F1 political machine, but every driver looks downright miserable most of the time.

      I actually found the Malaysian race quite a good one, but there’s just this feeling that I’m watching out of some off loyalty or tradition rather than because it will be an entertaining three hours.

      The “accountancy F1” comment is spot on. The sport has become too clinical, too corporate, too politicised. I want to watch cool people having fun racing cool cars, not a micromanagement exercise for accountants and analysts in getting a sponsored computer on wheels from point A to point B in minimal time and with maximum ROI.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        3rd April 2014, 13:46

        +1 Agreed 100%

        I can’t wait for WEC to start.

    9. 5,9 is a very generous score.

      1. I said many times over and over again.
        NO KIMI = BORING RACE, if you don’t believe me just check past rating.

    10. I voted 6 so it seems I fall right in the middle of the bell curve.

      I really like the sound of the cars now. I like hearing the tires squealing, etc, and the turbo’s sound cool IMO. Overall I don’t care all that much what it sounds like, I want good racing over screaming engines (although having both would be OK too).

    11. Bluddy tyres! Again!

    12. It’s not that there was anything fundamentally wrong with it, just nothing particularly interesting happened. If they removed DRS though…

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        3rd April 2014, 10:39

        It certainly would have meant that the Hulk vs Alonso battle would’ve gone on for many more laps. That would’ve been excellent to watch! Hulk is a notorious defender, so much so that Alonos had a hard time getting past him even with DRS.

    13. I was a six. Good start, boring middle, reasonable end.

    14. The rating goes to show that no matter who is up front disappearing into the distance, that the public are bored by it… Last couple of years it was VET, now it seems its the HAM show. Yes, I wasn’t blown away by the race, but I’ll keep watching because I’m a fan of the sport.
      Ultimately I think if people want entertainment, they should go watch a movie, or go to the theatre, sport is played out with no script, sometimes it can deliver the most wild of twists and turns eg 76′ championship, and sometimes it can just deliver an outcome that was deserved by the best team/car of the year without many challenges eg ’93 championship.
      If the FIA thought the same as me, then we wouldn’t be having a discussion about whether the cars are loud enough, it’d be about how well the Mercs have been built this year and that ROS has his chance to upstage his teammate who has won a championship before.

      1. I wasn’t taking notice of the 1st. years of F1 but I suspect that JM Fangio with 5 WDCs spent a lot of the time “up front disappearing into the distance”, in the 60’s when I 1st. started paying attention Jim Clark almost always disappeared into the distance as did A.Senna, M.Schumacher and no doubt others I can’t immediately recall. these are the names and times we remember. Quite possibly the the racing was better when there was no stand-out car/driver but history would suggest that a dominant car/driver is not a turn off but in fact an attraction for F1. @dragoll

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