Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Sepang International Circuit, 2015

F1 bounces back with lively Malaysian Grand Prix

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Rate the Race result

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Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Sepang International Circuit, 2015The memory of a disappointing start to the new season in Australia were quickly dispelled by an exciting Malaysian Grand Prix which produced a surprise winner.

Not long ago the idea of Sebastian Vettel taking a ‘surprise’ victory would have been difficult to comprehend as he brought the 2013 season to a close with nine consecutive victories. But his triumph for the rejuvenated Ferrari team was a promising sign Mercedes won’t have it all their own way this year.

This was the second-highest rated Malaysian Grand Prix since Rate the Race began in 2008, with only the 2012 grand prix scoring higher. Here’s what F1 Fanatic readers made of this year’s race.

A welcome improvement

The overwhelming sentiment was the Malaysian Grand Prix was much better than the first race of the year:

This was a nice riposte to those people who are complaining Mercedes are unbeatable. Ferrari’s strategy may have assisted Vettel but his drive was undeniably strong and he controlled the race, once he gained the lead. Vettel didn’t have to push towards the end, so he may have had something left in reserve. If so, that bodes well for the rest of the season.

Moreover, Raikkonen started well down the field, suffered an early puncture, yet he still fought back to an excellent fourth place. I believe Raikkonen was 41 seconds behind Rosberg at the end. If Raikkonen hasn’t lost so much time through having to pit, who knows how close he might have been to being on the podium. That also bodes well for the rest of the season.
@McKenzie

This really shows that at least the racing in F1 is still top notch, even if the politics still leave a malodorous stench. Horner can hardly call Mercedes’ domination out when they were soundly beaten today.
@Mouse_Nightshirt

With the exception of maybe Canada, this race was better than any of the 2014 and 2013 races. Although, the action dropped off at about lap 40, or whenever Vettel and Hamilton made their final pit stops. At that point it was clear Vettel was going to win. It’s a shame Rosberg didn’t catch Hamilton and fight him. Actually, Rosberg was a bit of a pushover this race. Hamilton was making quick passes while Rosberg was overly cautious.

I know there’s a lot of things wrong off of the track in Formula One, but for once I could watch a race without having to worry about any of that.
Michael Brown

A few complaints

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Sepang International Circuit, 2015Not everyone was thrilled, however: the interference of the Safety Cars and some questionable penalties raised the ire of a few readers.

There was some nice jostling for position early on, before the second half of the race featured a really intriguing strategy battle. However saying that, the race did feel quite long, and except for Bottas’ awesome pass on Massa and Grosjean’s failed pass on Perez, I was rarely on my seat.
@Craig-O

There are a few aspects about this race that I disliked. There’s the fact that the Safety Car played a major role in the unfolding of the race. Sure, it was very clever of Vettel to stay outside and storm off in clean air. But the Safety Car meant that from this point, Vettel never had to fight Hamilton directly, and Hamilton never had to fight Rosberg. And that’s a shame, because there was a lot of potential for a thrilling battle between the three of them.

Also, the stewards’ decision to penalise Hulkenberg for a racing incident, in which he wasn’t even to blame, angered me quite a lot.

The third reason is the grid that again fell short of 20 entrants. I’m definitely not a fan of Bernie’s, but if Manor can’t fix a fuel pressure issue in 20 hours, they’re not F1 material. As a consequence, the grid fell short of my expectations again.
@Nase

There were a few great battles between the midfielders, but, it was more ended up with missed braking points, silly contacts or entering pits. A train appeared for a while, where there wasn’t any spectacular move or something like that.

Victory? Same again, nobody had a fight for the victory. Just a strategic battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, but the result was obvious from the beginning as Mercedes struggled to manage tyres on that hot surface all weekend long.

Nothing happened on track, (except Vettel’s dull move on Rosberg). Only two Mercedes and Raikkonen’s climbing after Safety Car was a little fun to watch, which we expect to see in a Formula 1 race. Nothing more.
BoRa (@Bnwllc3)

The Australia effect

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Albert Park, 2015Several readers suggested the race seemed better than it was because of the negative reaction to the Australian Grand Prix.

Wouldn’t go as far to say that it was a classic, what with the race for the win being pretty much over after the final stops, but still thoroughly enjoyable. Certainly, it’s exactly what Formula 1 needed after all the negativity following Australia. An exciting race and a genuinely close contest with a surprising (and popular) win, something which many of us never thought we’d see. F1 2015 looks a whole lot better now. A Hamilton/Vettel scrap for the title is a mouthwatering prospect. Let’s just hope Ferrari can match Mercedes at every race.

Reminds me a bit of Bahrain last year. One team boss complains about the sport all week, calling for urgent changes, only for us to witness a great race while that boss sees his cars scrap for minor points. Wonderful.
@JackySteeg

I am surprised that the race has received so many nine and ten ratings, everyone likes different things about grand prix but I wonder how much of the high ratings were because of what had come before it, the fact that the previous grand prix was very boring and it seemed that Mercedes were going to be even more dominant than last year coupled with the possibility that Rosberg may not put up as much of a fight to Hamilton this year.
@PJA

I think a lot of people are over-hyping this race because of Australia.
Patrick (@Paeschli)

The shape of things to come?

After two very different races, which set the tone for what will follow during the rest of the championship?

F1 still has all of the same problems it had two weeks ago so it’s important not to get too carried away, or blinkered to the fact that it’s still in crisis, but this race showed us that we can have competitive racing under the current regulations when it all works and the tyres don’t fall apart. I still have the same concerns about engine allocation and the silly DRS. I hope that this level of racing can carry on until the end of the season, but I doubt it can.
Andy (@Andybantam)

Maybe I am a bit biased as I was in the stands, but I thought it was a cracker…

Maybe 2015 will not turn out to be such a bad season after all. I still think that Hamilton will walk away with the title, but Vettel might take second away from Rosberg in the standings. The Ferrari at this rate might win more than two this year, which would mean we would see a Arrivabene running at full pelt in Maranello (his words, not mine). Kvyat, Verstappen, Sainz, Force India, as well as McLaren-Honda exceeded my expectations.
Mashiat Lam Gofran (@Mashiat2)

2015 F1 season ratings

RaceAverage score
2015 Malaysian Grand Prix8.369
2015 Australian Grand Prix4.754

Malaysian Grand Prix

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2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “F1 bounces back with lively Malaysian Grand Prix”

  1. After two very different races, which set the tone for what will follow during the rest of the championship?

    Exactly. One race (Melbourne) was apparently not enough to say the entire season was going to be boring but one race (Malaysia) is then plenty of proof the entire season is going to be a title fight between Hamilton and Vettel. I loved Malaysia but I still think engine changes have to be made to allow other teams to come closer.

    1. Interesting that you leave out the guy who finished 2nd and 3rd in the first two races of the season. Surely it will still be a fight between Lewis and Nico with Vettel being an outside bet?

      1. @racectrl Wasn’t my opinion. I had the feeling this was the general idea after Malaysia on several sites and forums.

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      6th April 2015, 11:48

      @xtwl

      I still think engine changes have to be made to allow other teams to come closer.

      Shouldn’t those other teams use their tokens first?

      1. @coldfly Tokens were always a step in the good direction for me, but opening up the rules even more and close them by 2017 is a real plan in my eyes. That gives every team, including Honda, to build a proper engine with a deadline, and if they by then fail they at least had a proper chance of development instead of now limping behind Mercedes with some minor changes who will hardly make a difference when Mercedes use theirs.

        1. Surely that is exactly what they all had at the start of the regulation changes.

          Someone does a better job and despite that allows other teams catch up via the token ‘right now’ agreement and people are still moaning that its ‘not fair’

          In Mercedes shoes, I would seriously cheesed off hearing about it by now.

          Particularly as I am supplying half the grid!

          1. Surely that is exactly what they all had at the start of the regulation changes.

            Without a single day of proper testing the engine in their car.

            Someone does a better job and despite that allows other teams catch up via the token ‘right now’ agreement and people are still moaning that its ‘not fair’

            I’m not saying it’s not fair. It’s fact a huge part of Mercedes its dominance is because of the engine and that is protected by the rules.

            In Mercedes shoes, I would seriously cheesed off hearing about it by now.

            Red Bull had to swallow everything during their years so Mercedes at least should do the same.

          2. @xtwl maybe more testing is enough.

        2. @xtwl I don’t see any sign of tokens being a factor. Honda had infinite tokens but it seems they didn’t have the nous to develop their PU in a chassis, and now the MGU-K needs a complete redesign. Renault had the same opportunity as Ferrari. Even Renault don’t want a free-for-all, because they can see that Mercedes simply have the best-performing engine department atm and their best bet is to play catchup, which will be allowed under reliability/economy exceptions after Merc’s tokens have run out.

          As for Horner’s claim they were held back, that’s nonsense. Charlie completely invented a link between para 3.17 and 3.15 to allow them to run bendy aero. He let them brazenly use the FIA’s own test table to support the floor to get it past the test! He very gradually yielded to other teams’ pressure, is all. Even then he reversed out of the anti-Red Bull tyres when all they needed was to be run in the intended direction.

          Merc’s advantage is engineering, that’s all. Prototype engineering, when it’s always likely that one will be better than another.

          1. @lockup During the V8 era Renault arguably had the least powerfull engine. Yet it was the aero of the RB that made the car strong. An area of the car to which teams can bring numerous updates the entire season long. At the end of each season they could build an entire new chassis to catch up to Red Bull their chassis. There was plenty of room to play in to catch Red Bull but the teams just couldn’t do that.

            Now however, Renault and Ferrari built an engine worse than Mercedes but nobody bar some tokens can change its engine. Next year the teams get some more tokens but so will Mercedes who will propably improve in the same level Renault and Ferrari will.

            Thus my conclusion that a large part of Mercedes its advantage is protected by the rules is for sure a fact AND that was never the case for Red Bull or even in history of F1.

            And you are right saying Mercedes did a good job, I have never said otherwise. But whether that is healthy for the sport. When Marko said he doesn’t see Renault catching Mercedes unless a new big reg change happens he was very right to say so.

            The sport is bleeding like never before and instead of putting on a bandage the rules, CVC and many other factors are ripping it open.

          2. But @xtwl it doesn’t look like Renault can design as good an engine as Mercedes, or Ferrari, irrespective of tokens.

            IMO as in the past they’ll be allowed to catch up through the loopholes that have been carefully left in the rules for that exact purpose. They just have to design the thing.

            And yes I know Horner used to moan about the Renault V8 but if you watch a Brazil race from that era, curiously the Red Bulls generally do NOT lose ground up the great long horse-power-hungry hill! ;)

            I’d say that if anything it’s Renault who need the freeze/token system. In a straight design contest they’ll keep losing, with the organisations as they are right now. BUT as things are FIA will let them catch up, while development slows for the others.

  2. I can’t ever imagine a time when I would be in favour of handicapping a manufacturers advantage just because they’ve done a better job. Although, I am interested to see who will be most hurt by the TD that makes teams provide several fuel measurement points. I think it comes into force in a few races time. The idea is to stop teams ‘stockpiling‘ fuel after the FIA fuel flow meter during times of low engine demand, thus allowing them to exceed 100Kg/h when needed.

    With their recent history, my bet is that its actually Red Bull making use of a loophole in the fuel flow regs. Which would be hilarious.

    Anyway, to Malaysia. A good race, but I suspect only so because of the climate and track conditions. Red Bull and their brakes was comical – the only team to get it wrong shows their desperation to gain a tenth or two. They really should just accept where they are and work on it, instead of forcing competitiveness at the expense of longevity as they do. The Mercs will be back on form in cooler conditions, but I really hope Ferrari and Williams can push them.

    If this post seems anti Red Bull, its only because the way they operate, and constantly whinge, is very negative for F1 in my opinion.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      6th April 2015, 11:54

      @sham

      The idea is to stop teams ‘stockpiling‘ fuel after the FIA fuel flow meter during times of low engine demand, thus allowing them to exceed 100Kg/h when needed.
      … my bet is that its actually Red Bull making use of a loophole in the fuel flow regs.

      It’s not a loophole; it is explicitly prohibited in the existing technical regulations!

      5.10.5 Any device, system or procedure the purpose and/or effect of which is to increase the flow rate after the measurement point is prohibited.

    2. On Malaysia topic, I saw the whole race in onboard footage and Vettel used high gears/low rev the entire last stint clearly saving resources.

    3. Red Bull and their brakes was comical – the only team to get it wrong shows their desperation to gain a tenth or two.

      @sham They didn’t get it wrong from the looks of it – they still finished the race (to get it wrong would be Mark webber at Singapore 2009).

      Unless it actually cost them positions. I doubt the brakes did. Might be wrong, though.

  3. Maybe I voted a bit too high as well (I think 9) for what the race was objectively. After a year of complete Mercedes dominance (RIC could only win when Mercedes had issues), the Australia race seemed to suggest it might be even worse this year. So my high vote is really because the race gave me the hope that this season will not be a completely one-sided affair.

    1. @mike-dee MArcedes had an issue – it was caused by a Ferrari-engined car :P

      And it’s not HAM’s LaFerrari.

  4. looking back at it, it wasn’t worth what i voted (i think i voted 9). since the poll opens straight after the race and everyone was so excited that someone beat the mercedes cars on merit, the result isn’t surprising. i’m guessing a lot of people felt like this. ultimately i think it was more like a 7. there was action, but it wasn’t anything special.

  5. I think 7.5-8 is the best rating for this race, and I voted 8.

  6. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    6th April 2015, 13:45

    I voted 8 at the time, and I’m glad I did. They’ve replayed the race twice here on Telly, and it was just as exciting each time (even though I knew the end result).

    I thought it was a great race regardless of the “Australia-effect”.

  7. Just to races and lots of predictions… More important than the weather conditions on Sunday will be the car developments race after race. Is not a couple of races with rain or very hot temperatures that will decide the WC, consistency and reliability is the name of the game.

  8. This is the highest rated race on F1 Fanatic won by Sebastian Vettel. Strangely enough, his second highest rated victory was his first win, the 2008 Italian GP with Toro Rosso with a score of 8.153. The 2013 Bahrain GP was his third best with a score 7.826. I find it funny how his only two wins that weren’t with Red Bull were rated best.

  9. My bother and I are planning a trip to Europe next summer and we are yet to decide between Monza and Hungary. After the Australian GP one of my bother texted me asking if the level of competitiveness seen in Australia was worth the financial commitment of a trip to Europe. Two weeks later, after the Malaysian GP he texted me saying: “Monza would be great with Ferrari on top but if they are fast in China tickets we sell out the next morning”…

    I just hope people are not “forced” to change opinion (again) after next GP. For now, seems to me a great season is the making and I’m eager to taste it live.

  10. Anyone else remember 2002? Ferrari dominated in Australia, then Williams beat them in a straight fight in Malaysia, which lead many people to believe that the entire season was going to be exciting. How were we ever wrong.

    Ironically, then too it was ridiculously hot track temperatures in Malaysia which gave us a false perspective on car performance. It was really just Michelins working and Bridgestones not.

    1. @kingshark But now they all drive Pirelli, so it was a car thing. Which means there might be other unforseen situations in which Ferrari might rise again.

      1. @xtwl hard to see. Cars that are kind to tyres in hot climates generally have trouble warming then in cooler climates.

        Malaysia was hot enough to boil an egg on the track surface, if that helps make the point further.

        1. @optimaximal That’s what I’m saying. ‘Unforseen situations’, who knows how hot it will be in Bahrein, Abu Dhabi, Singapore,… It was extremely hot in Malaysia now but maybe, just maybe, 10°C lower was already enough for Ferrari to take advantage here.

          1. If any of those races took part during the day, I might be inclined to agree. Alas, the second the sun drops, the temperatures plummet.

    2. I’m expecting the same thing to happen again. This season is going to be very much like 2014, but that doesn’t mean the entire season is going to be boring. It’s for races like Canada 2014 or Malaysia 2015 that we keep on watching!

      Also thanks for including my comment Keith!

  11. it was a great race “f1 standards” – but if you have the 3rd team back like 70 seconds…. the sad thing about f1, every race should be interesting, but when a race is half interesting we celebrate like crazy! f1 is still broke. people are saying this result proves f1 does not need equalistation, but i say it shows that the race proved that equalised performance makes better races, so bring on equalisation. equalistation still offers a lot of scope for competition, as the tiniest gains are more valuable.

    1. but if you have the 3rd team back like 70 seconds…. the sad thing about f1

      It was the exact same situation in 2007 (the 3rd team was nowhere near the top 2) and in 2000 (the 3rd team would regularly get lapped).

    2. If every race is exciting, that means no race is exciting anymore.

      It’s the same with overtakes, we used to enjoy them because they were rare but now we have so many DRS-overtakes that we don’t care about overtakes anymore.

  12. Keith, Can I suggest you put the rating at the top (or at least very near in the opening pararaphs) as opposed to the bottom?
    It would make for much easier reading of the article!

  13. Still don’t get what was actually so much more “entertaining” in Malaysia than in Australia. Let alone almost double the score. Is it because Mercedes/Hamilton didn’t win a race for a change?

    1. @patrickl
      There was more action on the circuit, a lot more overtakes, more action, and less predictability. Australia was dreadful almost simply for the fact that the grid felt empty. I’d also say that a Mercedes not leading for a change added to the drama.

    2. And more than 11 cars finishing the race.

  14. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    6th April 2015, 21:58

    It wasn’t a great race. It was a bit ‘meh’ to be honest and only the boring previous GP made this at all exciting.

  15. I find the comments on here a little bit disturbing. F1 is, first and foremost a sport. That means that whoever does the best job at building a car and has a driver who can make the most of it, should be winning races and championships. Entertainment is what is ruining F1 for me at the moment. I don’t want races where the entire field is separated by less than 1 second per lap, it suggests that F1 is too easy that anyone can just buy a car and be within 1 second of the leader. F1 is hard, its the ultimate in motorsport, it shouldn’t be open to anyone with an open chequebook.
    I also don’t want every race to go down to the wire, it suggests that the entire race weekend is pointless, and it becomes a roll of the dice of whoever is near the front in the last 10 laps. This to me suggests more of WWE event where everything is scripted. It is gimicks like DRS, push to pass and fan boost which has nothing to do with sport and everything to do with sucking ppl into watching a staged event that makes my stomach turn.
    Ron Howard said it best when describing the plot in his movie ‘Rush’, when he said that fact is stranger than fiction.
    For me, watching a couple of boring races then to follow up and watch that Malaysian GP makes it feel amazing. Watching the emotions of Vettel on the podium, with the German then Italian anthems played in succession, harping back to a by-gone era, when we saw Schumi win in a Ferrari.
    It is that feeling that sucks me back to F1, and ensures that I never want to miss any races, because, I don’t want to miss these moments, these moments I will cherish forever. These moments are unique to me and some others on this site, meanwhile, others who watching HAM win the championship last year had some different moments that were unique to them. Or others who supported Jules had very different emotions. If you don’t care for boring races, or races dominated by teams who have done the job during the off season, then I suggest you go watch Nascar or jump on and fan boost your driver in Formula E, because F1 should not lessen itself to be solely entertainment.

    1. Fantastic comment. Every era had some boring seasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have great moments during those seasons.

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