Vettel claims stunning victory in Malaysia

By on Sunday, March 29, 2015
Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari pulled off a two stop strategy to beat Mercedes to victory at a thrilling Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel stayed out during a safety car period early on and managed his tyres and pace to beat Lewis Hamilton to the flag at Sepang, with Nico Rosberg in third during a race in which tyres were key in hot conditions.

Hamilton retained the lead during a frantic start in which Vettel held off Rosberg while Pastor Maldonado picked up a puncture in the mid-pack.

Kimi Räikkönen also sustained a puncture at the start of the second lap after being clipped by Felipe Nasr, while Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson erred at the first corner a few laps later and spun into the gravel.

That brought out the Safety Car, meaning that several of the front runners came into the pits, but Vettel stayed out on his Medium tyres to lead the race, ahead of Nico Hülkenberg, Romain Grosjean, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Pérez.

Hamilton was the first yet-to-pit runner in sixth, while Rosberg was jumped by Ricciardo and Massa.

Vettel extended his lead at the restart while Hamilton scythed his way through traffic, moving into second place at the end of lap 10, by which time Vettel’s lead stood at 10 seconds. Rosberg made his way past rivals at a slower rate before moving into third a few laps later, six seconds behind Hamilton.

Vettel pitted at the end of lap 18 for a fresh set of Mediums and emerged in third position, ahead of the Williams pair.

Vettel closed the gap to Rosberg and on fresh tyres made the move into the hairpin, as the Mercedes duo began to struggle on old tyres.

Vettel slashed the gap and made a move on Hamilton into the hairpin on lap 25, with the Briton immediately ducking out into the pit lane for a fresh set of Mediums.

Vettel stopped at the end of lap 37 for Primes and emerged from the pits narrowly ahead of Rosberg, while Hamilton came in on the next lap also for Prime tyres, coming out 11 seconds behind his Ferrari rival.

Rosberg held second position briefly but came in for new Medium tyres on lap 42, emerging in third place and unleashing Hamilton to hunt down Vettel.

But Hamilton couldn’t close the gap and Vettel crossed the line 8.5s ahead to record his first win for the team and their first victory since 2013, ending Mercedes' run of success.

Räikkönen recovered to fourth place while Valtteri Bottas pulled off a stunning move on team-mate Felipe Massa at the end to take fifth.

Max Verstappen eclipsed Toro Rosso rival Carlos Sainz Jr for seventh to claim his first points in the sport while Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10, with the Russian surviving being briefly tipped into the air by Hulkenberg.

Grosjean placed 11th after colliding with Perez and surviving a high-speed spin - for which the Mexican was penalised - ahead of Nasr, the aforementioned Perez, Hulkenberg - who was slapped with a penalty for the contact with Kvyat - and Manor Marussia debutant Roberto Merhi.

Fernando Alonso crept into the points for McLaren but had to retire the car shortly before mid-distance.

Team-mate Jenson Button also failed to make the distance as he slowed with 15 laps remaining, having put up a valiant fight.

Maldonado spent most of the race towards the back after his initial puncture before pulling into the garage with a few laps remaining.

Will Stevens was unable to start the race due to the fuel system problem which also stranded the car in qualifying.

1Sebastian VettelFerrari1:41:05.79325
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes+8.569s18
3Nico RosbergMercedes+12.31s15
4Kimi RäikkönenFerrari+53.822s12
5Valtteri BottasWilliams+70.409s10
6Felipe MassaWilliams+73.586s8
7Max VerstappenToro Rosso+97.762s6
8Carlos SainzToro Rosso+1 lap4
9Daniil KvyatRed Bull+1 lap2
10Daniel RicciardoRed Bull+1 lap1
11Romain GrosjeanLotus+1 lap0
12Felipe NasrSauber+1 lap0
13Sergio PerezForce India+1 lap0
14Nico HulkenbergForce India+1 lap0
15Roberto MerhiMarussia+3 laps0
RetPastor MaldonadoLotusDNF0
RetJenson ButtonMcLarenDNF0
RetFernando AlonsoMcLarenDNF0
RetMarcus EricssonSauberDNF0

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