2015 MALAYSIAN GP: VETTEL SENSATIONAL WINNER

Sebastian Vettel scored a sensational first win of his Ferrari career at the Malaysian Grand Prix, ambushing the dominant Mercedes team by expertly converting a two-stop strategy to relegate championship leader Lewis Hamilton to second place and Nico Rosberg to third. Across the weekend, Ferrari’s SF15-T was kinder on tyres than its rivals and Vettel capitalised on the advantage in the race, electing not to stop during an early safety car period and then getting the best out of his starting medium tyres to hold the lead during the race’s opening phase.

The German made his first visit to the pit lane on lap 17, taking on more medium tyres and rejoining in third place behind the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who had both pitted during the safety car period brought about by Sauber’s Marcus Ericcson beaching his car on the edge of the gravel trap in turn one. A strong second stint saw Vettel maintain his challenge but when Hamilton took on medium tyres for his next stint the gap closed as the Mercedes driver closed in on the German by upwards of a lap per second.

Vettel then took on hard tyres in his second stop on lap 37, but when Hamilton then made his third stop with 18 laps to go – having to take on hard tyres with only heavily used mediums as the alternative - Mercedes’ challenge evaporated. Vettel controlled the gap with ease and eventually took the chequered flag with eight seconds in hand to claim his first victory since Brazil 2013 and Ferrari’s first win since Spain of the same season.

“A phenomenal day. It feels incredible,” said Vettel afterwards. “To see the guys when I was on the podium, to look down, it was an incredible atmosphere. I can only recall from the victories Fernando had with Ferrari and recall especially the victories Michael celebrated with the team – I think there were one or two – it’s incredible. The strategy today was also ace. Mercedes pulled in [during the safety car period], which I think we were a bit surprised by, but we saw on Friday that they weren’t too happy on the medium compound and Lewis was struggling in the first stint and I was able to keep up with him, which I enjoyed a lot. And then I knew I had to deliver, trying to make those tyres last and trying to go as fast as I can. Second stint he was chasing me down, which was tough, so he had a string second stint. In the end I think I was able to rebalance the car a little more and I was able to, yeah, have a solid gap the last couple of laps."

Hamilton, meanwhile, admitted that he had struggled with the balance of his car all afternoon: "All day I was struggling with the balance. It was very, very uncomfortable, a lot of understeer, I couldn't look after tyres. When I went to option tyre the car was better I was able to be a bit more consistent. I was able to close the gap. We went on the other tyres at the end, which weren’t good for me. I tried my best and the team made best choice they could."

Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia.
56 laps, 310.408km., Weather: Dry.
CLASSIFIED:
 P.    DRIVER             TEAM             TIME   
 1. Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari        1h41:05.793
 2. Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes AMG    +    8.569
 3. Nico Rosberg        Mercedes AMG    +   12.310
 4. Kimi Raikkonen      Ferrari         +   53.822
 5. Valtteri Bottas     Williams        + 1:10.409
 6. Felipe Massa        Williams        + 1:13.586
 7. Max Verstappen      Toro Rosso      + 1:39.085
 8. Carlos Sainz JR.    Toro Rosso      +    1 Lap
 9. Daniil Kvyat        Red Bull        +    1 Lap
10. Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull        +    1 Lap
11. Romain Grosjean     Lotus           +    1 Lap
12. Felipe Nasr         Sauber          +    1 Lap
13. Sergio Perez        Force India     +    1 Lap
14. Nico Hulkenberg     Force India     +    1 Lap
15. Roberto Merhi       Manor           +   3 Laps

Fastest lap: N. Rosberg - 1:42.062 (2014 1:43.065)

NOT CLASSIFIED:
DRIVER             TEAM         ON LAP            
Pastor Maldonado   Lotus          48
Jenson Button      McLaren        42
Fernando Alonso    McLaren        22
Marcus Ericsson    Sauber          5
Will Stevens       Manor      not started

AFTER 2 RACES:
 DRIVERS:                    CONSTRUCTORS:        
 1. Lewis Hamilton    43     1. Mercedes AMG  76
 2. Sebastian Vettel  40     2. Ferrari       52
 3. Nico Rosberg      33     3. Williams      30
 4. Felipe Massa      20     4. Sauber        14
 5. Kimi Raikkonen    12     5. Toro Rosso    12
 6. Felipe Nasr       10     6. Red Bull      11
 7. Valtteri Bottas   10     7. Force India    7
 8. Daniel Ricciardo   9
 9. Nico Hulkenberg    6
10. Max Verstappen     6
11. Carlos Sainz       6
12. Marcus Ericsson    4
13. Daniil Kvyat       2
14. Sergio Perez       1