It came as no surprise to F1 fans when Mercedes took a commanding lead in the constuctors championship with a 1-2 finish at last weekend’s Malaysian GP. Lewis Hamilton had a perfect weekend claiming pole position, setting the fastest lap time and finishing 17 seconds ahead of his teammate to give Mercedes it’s first 1-2 finish since 1955.
With a car that has looked fast and reliable throughout preseason testing, and now two full races, Mercedes is without a doubt the team to beat. Hamilton was so dominate during the race that the team actually instructed him to turn down the engine’s power output, to save wear on the car, and he was still nearly 25 seconds ahead of the nearest non-Mercedes at the end of the race.
As for the rest of the field it really looks like there is Mercedes and then everyone else. With nearly a third of the field failing to finish, mostly due to mechanical issues, the remaining drivers clustered in small groups to battle for most of the race.
Early incidents between Raikonnen and Magnussen put paid to their chances for the day with the Finn and his damaged Ferrari battling Kobayashi for much of the middle part of the race. Kamui did manage an impressive drive in the Caterham and it isn’t hard to imagine the Caterham team scoring a lucky point or two this season.
With Raikonnen circulating at the back of the field it was once again up to Alonso to bring glory to the Scuderia. Sadly, it is starting to look like Ferrari has missed the mark once again. The cars seem to lack pace, when compared to the the other top tier teams, and at some point you have to wonder how long Alonso will put up with it.
Notable drives during the 2014 Malaysian GP were put in by both Nico Hulkenberg and the rookie Daniil Kyvat. Once again the Hulk drove his way to a solid 5th place finish and it really is a shame that he didn’t get into a top team this season. Of course with the uncertainty of the new formula he could be a dark horse to steal a podium finish this year.
Torro Rosso rookie Daniil Kyvat, who isn’t even old enough to drink a celebratory beer, once again ended up in a points paying position and this time he fought off repeated attacks from both Raikonnen and Grosjean for the last third of the race to claim his championship point. These first two races have really shown that Kyvat might be the real deal and at only 19 he can only get better.
What about Red Bull? While the Mercedes look unassailable Vettel and Ricciardo put in great qualifying times and the cars look like they are coming together. It’s relatively accepted that they are down on power due to the issues with the Renault powerplant but Adrian Newey’s aerodynamic genius is very evident and it’s likely that once again the Red Bull chassis produces substantially more grip than their competitors. Perhaps late season revisions and the new double points rule will keep Vettel in the championship hunt.
As for Ricciardo it seems like he might have inherited Mark Webber’s bad luck half of the garage. Once again he had mechanical issues and added to a botched pit stop which damaged the nose of his Red Bull RB10 there really wasn’t a surprise when the team retired him late in the race. In the current era it’s much better to save the car for the next race than circulate around the track when your driver is already two laps down.
That wraps up our 2014 Malaysian GP recap, check back next week when we recap the Baharain GP. Will the Mercedes freight train continue, can Red Bull and the other teams make up the gap? We’ll know in five short days.
For more on the 2014 Malaysian GP check out the official Formula 1 site at: www.formula1.com