2016 Malaysian Grand Prix driver ratings

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Which drivers coped best with the punishing Malaysian Grand Prix? Here’s F1 Fanatic’s verdict on the full field.


Lewis Hamilton – In top form on Saturday, his first lap in Q3 easily good enough to beat Rosberg even though a mistake forced him to abandon his last run. He started cleanly and edged clear of Ricciardo, though Verstappen led for a while after making a pit stop under the Virtual Safety Car. That might have made the latter phase of the race more interesting for Hamilton had he got there, but his engine had other ideas.

Nico Rosberg – Couldn’t live with Hamilton’s pace in qualifying and had to settle for second on the grid. He was blameless in the turn one collision with Vettel, and had to give his all as he made his way back to the front. He acted quickly and decisively to put a move on Raikkonen and collected a penalty which seemed harsher than those he’s previously had in 2016, but it couldn’t keep him from retaking third place.


Sebastian Vettel – Pipped Raikkonen to fifth on the grid and made a good start to get alongside Verstappen. He tried to pin the blame for the turn one collision on the Ferrari drivers’ favourite scapegoat, but the fact of the matter was Vettel braked too late and the stewards saw as much.

Kimi Raikkonen – Continued to show good pace compared to Vettel in the build-up to the race and only narrowly lost out in qualifying. His race was frustrated a handling imbalance caused by rubber debris in his rear wing, and the need to conserve his power unit. But he was also mugged by Verstappen at a restart and left the door wide open for Rosberg’s passing attempt, with left him with more damage to his rear floor.


Felipe Massa – Admitted seventh on the grid was possible after taking tenth, but at least made it into Q3. However a throttle problem forced him to start from the pits, from where he recovered to a decent 13th.

Valtteri Bottas – Owned up to an error with his engine settings in Q2 which probably cost him a place in the top ten shoot-out. However qualified 11th has its advantages, such as being able to start on new tyres, and Bottas took advantage of that to run a one-stop strategy. This jumped him ahead of the Force Indias.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo – Felt his tyres beginning to go in the final sector during his qualifying lap, and ultimately was beaten to third by Verstappen. However he saved an untouched set of soft tyres by getting through Q1 having only run mediums. He fit them for the final stint having brilliantly shrugged off an attack from Verstappen, who was on much fresher rubber.

Max Verstappen – Beat Ricciardo to third place and kept a lightly-used set of softs from Q1. He also made a much better start than he has in recent races, though he was delayed by the Vettel/Rosberg collision. However he pounced on Raikkonen at the restart and took Perez soon afterwards, bringing himself back into contention for a victory. He used the second VSC period to explore a different strategy, but a later VSC period meant we never got to see if it might have brought him victory.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg – The Force Indias occupied row four but Hulkenberg was beaten by Perez. He was also delayed by the turn one collision, which dropped him behind Button. “I just couldn’t overtake him,” Hulkenberg admitted, and he spent two stints following the McLaren. He finished eighth.

Sergio Perez – Produced another of his much-improved qualifying performances: seventh was as high as the car could manage. He took advantage of the turn one incident to briefly hold third place, but could do nothing to keep Verstappen and Raikkonen behind. Bottas also jumped him via his free pit stop.

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up


Kevin Magnussen – Had a nasty scare on Friday when he car caught fire, but bounced back to claim a strong 14th on the grid. As a result he found himself caught up in the reaction to the Vettel/Rosberg clash, was hit from behind by Kvyat and damaged his front wing on the Haas of Gutierrez ahead. After a first-lap pit stop for a new wing he retired on lap 17 when his brakes overheated. Deserved more.

Jolyon Palmer – A set-up change before his final run in Q1 proved his undoing and he was unable to hold on to a place in Q2. However he kept out of trouble at the start and employed a one-stop strategy to minimise his time in the pits. This ultimately yielded his first F1 point.

Toro Rosso

Daniil Kvyat – Edged Sainz by a slim margin in qualifying. However he ran into Magnussen at the start and damaged his front wing, putting him out of contention for the points.

Carlos Sainz Jnr – His race began with a drama when his engine cut out as he was doing his pre-start clutch preparation. He used the MGU-K to restart it just in time for the lights to go out, and did a “mega job” (his words) at the first corner to move up half-a-dozen places. The team used an alternative strategy to keep him in the hunt for points but it didn’t pay off – he finished a few seconds behind Palmer.


Marcus Ericsson – Headed Nasr on the grid but both dropped out in Q1. He endured a tough race after his water bottle failed on the first lap in one of the hottest grands prix of the year. He was happier with his car’s pace in the race, but finished out of the points in 12th.

Felipe Nasr – Was another of the drivers who lost time going around Rosberg’s Mercedes at the first corner. His retirement was officially blamed on the brake-by-wire system, though some claimed a Ferrari power unit failure was in fact to blame.


Fernando Alonso – Used Honda’s new power unit but 45 places of penalties meant it wasn’t worth doing a proper run in qualifying. The first corner kerfuffle was a gift which moved him into the hunt for points, and a decision to use an attacking strategy paid off when another Virtual Safety Car period handed him a free pit stop and allowed him to finish in front of Button.

Jenson Button – Frustrated by traffic in Q1 but a fine effort in the subsequent sessions gained him a place in Q3 and put him ahead of Massa’s Williams, which was a bonus. He briefly held fourth on the first lap before others passed him. But while the VSC made Alonso’s race it spoiled Button, costing him the chance to claim positions back from the three-stop runners. He deserved to finish higher than he started.


Pascal Wehrlein – An electrical problem in final practice compromised his preparation for qualifying. His race was fairly straightforward as he wasn’t really in contention with the other cars, but his best lap was almost two seconds quicker than Ocon’s.

Esteban Ocon – Took advantage of his team mate’s problems to beat him in qualifying, then made a brilliant start to briefly hold seventh. It all started to fall apart when he put the hard tyre on and struggled for pace, then picked up two penalties for pit lane speeding.


Romain Grosjean – A wheel jammed on his car during Q1 and although the team were able to loosen it the delay compromised his tyre preparation. Nonetheless he made it into Q2. The problems continued in the race, where a brake failure gave him a scare and put him out early in the running.

Esteban Gutierrez – Picked up a puncture on the first lap, struggled on with floor damage, but retired when a wheel fell off his car. In need of a change of luck.

Vote for your driver of the weekend

Which driver do you think did the best job throughout the race weekend?

Who got the most out of their car in qualifying and the race? Who put their team mate in the shade?

Cast your vote here:

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix

Browse all 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

38 comments on “2016 Malaysian Grand Prix driver ratings”

  1. My driver ratings:

    Hamilton – 5/5 – He was flawless the whole weekend, and dominated his teammate in qualifying. He was doing a good job in the race but unfortunately his engine failed. My driver of the weekend.
    Rosberg – 4/5 – Wasn’t very good in qualifying, but in the race he performed very well. He was taken out by Vettel in turn 1, but fought on from 21st to take a well earned podium.

    Vettel – 2/5 – Only just pipped an almost 37-year-old Raikkonen for 5th in qualifying and in the race he blew it immediately by hitting Rosberg at turn 1.
    Raikkonen – 4/5 – Decent weekend from him. Was outqualified by Vettel but managed to keep it clean in the race to take yet another 4th place.

    Bottas – 4/5 – Qualified 11th but finished 5th thanks to good tyre management. He put that Williams where it didn’t belong.
    Massa – 4/5 – Once again Felipe receives his infamous bad luck and started in the pits despite out-qualifying Bottas. He could not recover to finish in the points as his Williams gets progressively worse in performance compared to other teams, but finished a solid 13th.

    Red Bull:
    Ricciardo – 4/5 – Slower than Verstappen in qualifying, but defended superbly against him before the final pit stop to take the win after Hamilton’s unfortunate engine failure.
    Verstappen – 4/5 – Was the quicker of the two Red Bulls, but was unable to pass Ricciardo before the pit stops, but still took a very good P2.

    Force India:
    Perez – 4/5 – Outqualified his teammate and also finished ahead of him and took a decent points haul along with Hulkenberg to keep Force India ahead of Williams.
    Hulkenberg – 3/5 – Qualified in a decent position but still behind his teammate. Caught out by the turn 1 collision at the beginning but still managed to finish in the points.

    Magnussen – 4/5 – Superb qualifying by him in the Renault, but was hampered by Kvyat into turn 1 and then retired with brake failure.
    Palmer – 4/5 – Finally gets a point after a poor qualifying but great tyre management in the race. It seems that tyre management is key for the lower teams to score points.

    Toro Rosso:
    Sainz – 3/5 – Outqualified by Kvyat but finished ahead of him thanks to a good and clean start unlike his teammate.
    Kvyat – 2/5 – Outqualified Sainz, but from then onwards it went downhill as he hit Magnussen into turn 1.

    Ericsson – 4/5 – Ericsson equalled Sauber’s best finish of 2016 with 12th place, but the Sauber lacks pace and isn’t good enough to score a single point.
    Nasr – 3/5 – Caught out by the turn 1 incident and retired with mechanical issues. Couldn’t really do much on the Sunday.

    Alonso – 4/5 – My driver of the day. Started last due to engine penalties but fought back to finish 7th. Deserved driver of the day much more than Verstappen in my opinion.
    Button – 4/5 – Started 9th, and finished 9th. Lost out in the VSC but still took two well deserved points.

    Wehrlein – Finished ahead of his teammate again. He’s doing a fine job this year.
    Ocon – Picked up penalties for speeding in the pitlane. Esteban’s start to F1 hasn’t exactly been smooth.

    Grosjean – 3/5 – Suffered a brake failure.
    Gutierrez – 3/5 – Suffered a wheel falling off.

    1. Oops. Forgot to rate Manor. Wehrlein gets a 3 and Ocon gets a 2.

      1. In future, I think that it would be a better idea to rate drivers out of 10 instead of 5.

      2. Are Renault right in considering Ocon a viable driver for their team in 2017?
        Even Palmer is doing proportionally better so far this season than what we have seen from Ocon.
        Still early days for both Palmer and Ocon, but the season is quickly over and not sure they have convinced many in the paddock.

  2. Ricciardo: 4
    Verstappen: 5
    Good joke!!!

    1. Agree.
      Who won the race? Who held Ves on 10 laps older rubber?

      1. Ricciardo kept Verstappen behind for one lap before VSC interupted their battle….before that battle Verstappen
        – closed the 5-6 seconds gap from the start
        – overtook Button, Raikkonen and Perez
        – closed the full gap after the pitstop
        – was ahead one full pitstop, eqauls 23 seconds

        Btw after the 2nd pitstop Verstappen closed another gap of 4 seconds on older tyres

        1. Matn you miss the point about Ves, he chews up his rubber and looks lighting quick on fresh rubber only…Ric uses his brain not his pimples , look at their results it speaks volumes about their driving styles

          1. The results are compromised by start issues, up till Spa Ves gathered more points, Malaysia was a lucky win for Ricciardo as well.

            If you only use results for reference Ricciardo would have been the driver who demoted instead of Kvyat who took more points in 2015.

            Ric and Ves are quite even, exiting each race again, more so then propably any other couple on the grid

        2. Yes, in terms of pace, Verstappen had Ricciardo beat for pretty much the entire weekend. Even in the final stint he almost closed the gap, but when Ricciardo got DRS from Nasr, while Verstappen didn’t, he backed off.

          1. Matn what about monaco and spain unlucky loses ric is well ahead of chewy ves

      2. Even though I’m an Aussie and hardcore Danny Ric fanboy, I believe Max did better than Dan. That astonishing move at turns 5 & 6, as Danny Ric said himself, won him the race. Max had the pace to win but experience really helps out

      3. No 5 for Ric who won with that game changer defend in turns 456?? seriously

    2. Remember the rule
      Being Max Verstappen – 5 points

      1. Not sure how you can give Verstappen 5 and Ricciardo 4. Sure Verstappen outqualified Ricciardo by 4 hundredths of a second but it’s basically nothing! It could have gone either way in the end. Not to mention that Ricciardo improved at the end of qualifying on a used set while most struggled to improve on a new set at the end of the session.

        You also forgot the mention that while they were both in the pits for the final stint which neutralised Verstappen’s advantage, Verstappen also gained time by pitting under the VSC first time around (a RBR decision, not a Verstappen one like you made it out to be in the rating). Too much is factored on the ‘wow’ factor of Verstappen’s speed and racecraft and not enough on Ricciardo defending on older tires against his team-mate. There is some bloody art in driving defensive as much as the opposite.

        You could also argue that as Verstappen was the driver behind and RBR switched strategies to make Merc think and cover off both, he got put on the better strategy of the two.

        If anything, Ricciardo should at a minimum have the same rating as Verstappen because both were awesome over the weekend. Poor rating IMO, taking away nothing from Verstappen because he was brilliant but for him to rate higher than Ricciardo is silly.

        1. Disagree…

          VSC isn’t what made Ves change his strategy, but he was on the second best strategy anyways.
          RBR agreed that the first driver in lap 1 would get the first strategy, the other driver the alternative strategy.

          If you look at what happened before VCS1 and after VSC2 there’s no denying Verstappen was the faster driver this weekend, making up for 5-6 seconds after the start and another 3-4 seconds after VSC2 (while Ric was on new tyres). Ricciardo’s defending was kindly interupted by Hamiltons DNF, Ves was still within 0.5 sec, the whole battle was only taking place in two corners. Ric defending was good, Verstappen wasn’t pushing as hard as he could (taken from an interview) there just was no reason, he was 2-3 seconds faster and would have passed Ric on the straight.

          Where Verstappen has the wow factor, Ricciardo is propably the most liked driver on the grid.
          Ricciardo pretty well knew it just fell in his lap, his driving this GP was just a little less then Verstappens performance… the result however a little better.

          1. You can’t keep saying Verstappen made up 5-6 seconds here and 4 seconds there when he made an extra pit stop. Ricciardo needed to manage his tyres more than Verstappen so of course he would be the faster driver. He gained something like 8 seconds for the first VSC and had fresh rubber, the strategy dictates he had to push. I’m not saying it was the better strategy, it explains why Verstappen had faster lap times.

          2. Er if you read KC race review he even mentions that Verstappen took the advantage of the VSC and that was 11 second advantage by pitting under the VSC. Also in James Allen’s report, he clearly states that Verstappen got the better strategy out of the two.

            Also why would Ricciardo push as hard in the final stint hence Max slowly closing up? You could tell he was preserving his tires as he had track position over Verstappen, by near the end Ricciardo had opened out the gap again while Verstappen started struggling.

      2. A bit salty are we, his first 5/5 since the British GP.

        1. Is it? I think the kid may be a little overrated. I cannot fathom how he won the fan’s DOTD over Dan, Lewis, Alonso, even Rosberg?!

    3. Agreed!
      Though Verstappen qualified ahead of Ricciardo, Ricciardo finished the race as winner ahead of Verstappen. Race result has to count as more important than the quali result, especially as they both have the same car at their disposal.

  3. “However he pounced on Verstappen at the restart”

    New stat for Max Verstappen: Youngest/first driver to overtake himself in a GP :)

    1. I think Keith means Kimi but you never know :) maybe he did overtake himself computers never lies …

  4. Alonso didn’t use the new engine in the race, neither in qualifying.

    1. That’s true. They packed that engine for Suzuka after testing it in FP1.
      And “The first corner kerfuffle was a gift which moved him into the hunt for points” is not entirely accurate. He only managed to overtook Nasr at that point as you can see here: https://www.racefans.net/2016/10/02/2016-malaysian-grand-prix-in-pictures/motor-racing-formula-one-world-championship-malaysian-grand-prix-race-day-sepang-malaysia-82/

      1. alonso has a lot of recent experience and a ridiculous amount of success in these sorts of situations. it’s a bit harsh to say he was gifted the places.

  5. http://www.formula1.com/en/latest/features/2016/10/f1-alonso-video-onboard-first-lap-sepang.html

    Enough said :D Look at that car control! He slides the car in direction he wants at 0:40… also just some awesome mastery of race placement.

    1. Ah but Button “deserved” more. And Alonso had a “gift” from the first corner accident (yeah, right, the car drove itself masterfully through it, Alonso was a passenger, you know) So Button gets 4/5 from a so-so race, the same as Alonso. Totally ridiculous if you ask me.

      1. Kind of shows the bias in the author. Even if I agree Button was unlucky with the VSC.

    2. That lap was insane. That was like watching someone play a video game. Truth told I think Vettel and Hamilton (Probably also Ricciardo and Verstappen) have the one lap pace over Alonso. I’d also say Hamilton and Ricciardo have the edge on the wheel to wheel and defensive driving.

      But in sheer ability to read events going on around him, and react cleanly to them I don’t think any driver comes close. So in the fastest car against those other drivers I think he;d have his work cut out, but in a car that’s not quite there on pace I don’t think any other driver has a cat in hells chance against him.

      1. That was like watching someone play a video game *with cheats on*!

        Honestly – seeing just the clip would make you wonder whether it was one of the top-three teams starting from the back of the grid, and not a McLaren-Honda that was mocked mercilessly last year (by myself included!).

        The ballsiest move was at the 0:20 second mark when he drove through a cloud of tire smoke from Rosberg, and with no visibility.

        90 seconds of brilliance until the first VSC.

    3. That lap was impressive @jureo; interesting too though: look ahead of Alonso, that’s Ocon, right? … At the end of that video he is ahead of Sainz, who is the car ahead of Alonso – for a rookie, did very well there, without wanting to take away anything from Alonso having a great 1st lap, Ocon also deserves recognition for that.

  6. Shouldn’t Hamilton be -5 for whining again?

    1. “Him
      4th October 2016, 0:07”

      That has got to be past your bedtime right? :P

  7. I agree with most of these @keithcollantine, though I think from what I got from Renault, STR, and other media – Magnussen deserves less than 4/5 as it was Magnussen that first drove into Guttierez, then left Kvyat rather little opportunity to miss driving into his back, making both their races worse, so I am not so sure he deserved more. Still, all three Kvyat, Magnussen and Guttierez were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, I think.

  8. I’d have given Alonso a 5, other than that, absolutely spot on.

  9. Tricky when the points scale is only 1 to 5 because I wouldn’t put Alonso and Button on level pegging. However, I wouldn’t necessarily give Alonso a 5 despite him being my DOTD/DOTW. But I wouldn’t give Button a lowly 3 either.

    Were the ratings out of 10 – I’d give Alonso 9/10 and Button 8/10.

    Pretty much agree with the rest of the ratings.

  10. i agree with the multiple views of giving ratings out of 10 instead of out of 5
    or, we can keep the 5 scale , but give half points… 3.5 , 4.5 etc.
    much better to differentiate drivers properly

Comments are closed.