Emphatic Driver of the Weekend win for Vettel

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel has overwhelmingly been voted Driver of the Weekend after his somewhat surprise victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel scooped a staggering 66.4% of the vote after becoming the first driver to beat either Mercedes car to a race win on pure speed in over twelve months. He is the most emphatic winner of the poll since Nico Hulkenberg in the 2013 Korean Grand Prix.

It was am impressive weekend for the new Ferrari man, as he was on the pace in every session and in all conditions, giving the Scuderia their first grand prix victory in almost two years, and making amends for his win-less 2014.

Sebastian Vettel’s Malaysian Grand Prix weekend

Vettel made everyone sit up and take note on Friday afternoon, where his race stint lap times were comparable to those of the Mercedes pair, but showed that the Ferrari was treating its tyres better.

But on one-lap pace the Ferrari still looked to be around half a second off the Mercedes. Rain arrived during qualifying however, and as last year Vettel took advantage.

With the Mercedes drivers seemingly more preoccupied with beating each other, neither managed to improve on their final run on a drying track. Meanwhile Vettel snuck in a gem of a second lap, crossing the line less than a tenth of a second slower than Lewis Hamilton’s pole time.

“Not again!” Vettel exclaimed when he realised Hamilton had pipped him by a few hundredths for the second year in a row. But he avoided a repeat of last year’s start by successfully defending his second place for Nico Rosberg on the run to turn one.

The appearance of the Safety Car played into his hands as both the Mercedes drivers headed for the pits. Once the race resumed the two silver cars had to pick their way through the traffic while Vettel opened up a gap at the front of the field.

Even after Hamilton and Rosberg reached clear air they were never really able to do significant damage to Vettel’s lead. He made one pit stop fewer than them, which further strengthened his position. As a result he claimed his first win for Ferrari on only his second attempt – something he nor the team probably didn’t expect would happen so soon.

Vettel did an amazing job in qualifying, and in the race, he made all the right moves at the right time to not loose any time at all. He was aggressive but accurate to maintain his second place against the fast starting Mercedes at the start, his team called him in at the right time to come out in clean air and he made the right moves, not to loose position to the Williams.

He was impressive in rain hit qualifying, almost defeating Mercedes, which have more downforce. Of course, Ferrari’s gamble in the race paid off, but Vettel was pretty much in control during the race: attacking and managing the gap when necessary. The emotions after the race just adds to that special race for Ferrari and Vettel himself, who looks like a reborn and stronger force within F1.

Usually I have more than one choice for these, but for me there was one stand out above the rest. Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel beat a Mercedes in qualifying. Yes it was raining, however, they were clearly running less downforce which should make it harder in the rain, yet still beat a Mercedes. Very good. Then in the race, he did everything he needed to, stayed in contention before the safety car, pulled away after, showed some impressive speed and consistency as well as great tyre management and on top of that he did make some crucial (albeit relatively easy) overtakes. Overall, a very, very good race from Vettel.

Malaysia winners and losers

The other Ferrari driver also featured highly in the vote: Kimi Raikkonen missed the cut for the top ten in a hectic Q2 session and picked up a puncture at the end of lap one, but nonetheless recovered to finish an impressive fourth. He took 17.6% of the vote – more than anyone besides his team mate – while discussion surrounded how far he was to blame for his poor grid position.

To finish where he did, coming back from last place was a good drive and he’s generally been very quick, unfortunately it was the team’s mistake for his Q2 misfortune.

Raikkonen was behind Ericsson when starting his lap, so there was no reason to go four-tenths slower than Ericsson, who managed to go on to Q3.

He didn’t have an advantageous position at the head of the pack but he was still in a position to set a time decent enough for Q3 and he failed at that.

He was one of the better drivers on Sunday but for his inability to qualify, I can’t nominate him for Driver of the Weekend.

While the Ferrari pair were highly-rated, their primary customer team’s drivers were not. Australia Driver of the Weekend winner Felipe Nasr failed to pick up a single vote.

Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen, however, picked up enough votes to be the third highest voted driver after becoming the youngest ever point scorer.

I was impressed with Verstappen, especially at the start and the first two corners. He was totally boxed in and did not make any mistake. He did not touch anyone, although losing a couple of places during the first lap. He showed maturity that I had not seen with the other rookies – Sainz (Melbourne) and Nasr (Malaysia) both hitting Raikkonen trying to much to defend their position.

Verstappen’s battles in both overtaking and defending were also showing of maturity and not once did he look out of control. He did have one small moment going into the pits where I think he just lost a bit of concentration, but for the rest an excellent weekend for the just only 17-year-old.

And finally @Coldfly wanted to put a new spin on ‘Driver’ of the Weekend:

Maurizio Arrivabene – ‘driving’ Ferrari to the current level of success by bringing the whole team together (as opposed to some other team leaders).

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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20 comments on “Emphatic Driver of the Weekend win for Vettel”

  1. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
    7th April 2015, 11:24

    Max Verstappen – the youngest driver reach Top 3 of F1F DoTW

    1. Who has been the youngest F1F DoTW winner?

      1. Ricciardo Aus 2014?

        1. @williamstuart Magnussen you mean!

      2. How about Ricciardo in 2014?
        (Sorry if this comment has been posted before, weird issues with wordpress saying i’ve posted duplicate comments when it appears I hadn’t posted one yet).

        1. Actually, Magnussen got it then. Is he youngest?

          1. Perez got it in his debut so I think that’s it. Both Checo and Kevin were 21 but Perez was born in January and Magnussen in October.

    2. I’m sorry for kimi but i thought the dotW prize was going to be neck and neck between max and seb, i picked max by the way.

  2. Alexander (@)
    7th April 2015, 11:47

    “Raikkonen was behind Ericsson when starting his lap, so there was no reason to go four-tenths slower than Ericsson, who managed to go on to Q3.”
    Well when you are behind a Sauber(who “shouldn’t get to Q3) and you know this is your only quick lap you do want to pass the slower car, the risk is completely justified, it’s the teams fault who put him in that position.

    “He didn’t have an advantageous position at the head of the pack but he was still in a position to set a time decent enough for Q3 and he failed at that.”
    No one knew this at the time. As Kimi was behind Ericsson both him the team had all the reasons to think the opposite, especially Kimi.

    1. @alexanderfin
      Raikkonen only really caught up to Ericsson by T15, by which time they knew from S1 and S2 sector times that they were going to make it. It was then up to Kimi to assess whether an overtaking attempt was worth the risk. He couldn’t make a move stick and it cost him.

      So he didn’t have the most advantageous position of being at the front of the pack – but most other drivers didn’t either and those around him did make it work. That’s why I feel the blame (if there really has to be blame) should at least be shared between team and driver. Especially when hearing Coulthard speaking about how it’s really up to the driver when he wants to go: go out early vs keeping more warmth in the tires by staying in longer.

      At the end of the day his track position still allowed him to put in a good time and he didn’t. That’s basically why I couldn’t vote for him. It’s driver of the weekend, not driver of the day.

      1. Alexander (@)
        7th April 2015, 14:04

        I don’t think they could have known from the S1 and S2 times he was going trough, he was down well over 2 seconds in the end which I doubt all came in the last corner. Therefore it must have looked bad for him all the lap being behind that Sauber.

        I find it funny Coulthard saying it’s up to the driver when he wants to go and Ossi Oikarinen an ex Toyota and Ferrari engineer says it’s up to the team. In this case I think the team has a lot more information than Kimi and should be the ones responsible to get the driver out in time.
        I also think the blame should be shared between the team and Kimi, Kimis mistake was not making the move on Ericsson stick and going too deep… But I think that was a risk he had to take.

        1. @alexanderfin

          I don’t think they could have known from the S1 and S2 times he was going trough, he was down well over 2 seconds in the end which I doubt all came in the last corner.

          S1 and S2 Ericsson was up on eleventh place and Raikkonen was up on Ericsson (started the lap further behind Ericsson than he was while approaching T15 so he had effectively closed in and was doing a faster lap than Ericsson).
          Basically he hadn’t been really hindered by Ericsson but he would have been a bit in T15 as he had caught up by then. So he made the decision to try a final lunge into T15 but it didn’t pay off.

          As for the decision to go out – I can only say what Coulthard said. Maybe here, too, it is a joint decision taken by driver (motivated by his confidence in warming the tires vs desire to be at the front) and team.

          In any case, we seem to agree about sharing the blame, so our points of view aren’t that far apart.

  3. Waiting to see Hamilton break the F1F DOTW records… Brace for Hammertime in China..

  4. @keithcollantine Was Hamilton’s 77% of the votes after the 2011 European GP thr highest ever for a DOTW winner? Because I haven’t been able to find any which is higher.

    1. @mashiat You made me look, cause I was deeply surprised, but: 2011 european Grand Prix DotW was Alonso, with 33%

      1. @crammond I’m sorry. Still think of the Nurburgring as the European GP. It was supposed to be the 2011 German GP.

  5. Hey Keith, where is the table that lists the name of the top 3 drivers and their percentages. (similar to the ones last year)

    1. Yeah, I really miss it.

  6. It was an impressive weekend for the new Ferrari man

    Typo @bradley13

  7. @paeschli – Ah yes, my bad. Sadly I can’t get in to edit it now however :/

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