LB RACE REVIEW: 2017 MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX
A GREAT FAREWELL RACE FOR KUALA LUMPUR
OVERTAKE OF THE DAY
HE: Ricciardo (vs Bottas) - Ricciardo could've been right up with Verstappen had he not been stuck behind the lacklustre Bottas. When he did finally get past the Finn it was in typical tenacious style with a ballsy move.
BH: Alonso (vs Magnussen) – Considering expectations for Alonso are always so high, I thought Alonso had a pretty average weekend, but one highlight must be the no nonsense overtake on Kevin Magnussen. K Mag did his best to derail the Spaniard’s effort, but Alonso was having none of it.
SS: Verstappen (vs Hamilton) – It was a challenge that was needed and it needed someone with a large pair of balls to do it. Diving down a narrow inside, past Lewis Hamilton is not easy, especially for the lead of the race on the driver who is fighting to win the title, but Max pulled it off flawlessly and it was great to watch.
OVERACHIEVER OF THE DAY
HE: Stoffel Vandoorne - His best weekend performance to date. He was ahead of Alonso in quali and then didn't look back from there. I expected him to fall back but he held on magnificently and apart from Perez he was best of the rest.
BH: Stoffel Vandoorne – Easily his best race of the year so far and he seems to be getting better with every race. Considering the two long straights that seemingly go on forever, Vandoorne somehow pulled his McLaren all the way to P7 in qualifying. He was expected to fall back in the race but kept the Williams’ drivers behind him and held his position.
SS: Stoffel Vandoorne – I have to agree with Ben, he outperformed at every turn. His move out of the pitlane between the two Williams cars who were scrapping was just fantastic, the car shouldn’t be there. He really impressed.
UNDERACHIEVER OF THE DAY
HE: Valtteri Bottas - I'm not actually sure Bottas was awake for most of the race. He had a great start but apart from that he was miles away from the top drivers. Vettel had caught him before the halfway mark and he started last!
BH: Valtteri Bottas – Does anyone know when Valtteri’s flight gets into Malaysia? Because I’m certain he never actually arrived this weekend. In a Mercedes, he somehow managed to lose to Vettel who started at the back of the grid with the gap being nearly 30 seconds! Bottas is on his worst run of form of the season and desperately needs a good race at Suzuka.
SS: Valterri Bottas – He is becoming a big letdown of the season. Nothing shows a vote of no confidence like being handed another one year deal when everyone knows the driver market will go crazy at the end of the 2018 season. Bottas needs to put a shift in and fast otherwise his shot at a top drive will be gone very soon.
DRIVER OF THE DAY
HE: Max Verstappen - This was a tricky one as Vettel deserved it too, but Verstappen was mighty with a brave move on Hamilton and then just ran off after that, never looking back. Great stuff from the 20 year old.
BH: Max Verstappen – I feel harsh as both Vettel and Verstappen deserve this, but I’m going to give it to young Max. He overtook Hamilton in clinical fashion that ultimately gave him the win, it was a move that needed to be made as early as possible and he wasted little time in doing so. After so many problems this season, he fully deserved this one today.
SS: Sebastian Vettel – A really strong attacking drive from Seb who managed to limit the damage on the points margin between himself and Hamilton. He carved through the field and even managed to pass Bottas and finish 30 seconds infront of him, which is more embarrassing for Bottas than it is impressive for Seb. None the less, he did well today and showed why he has always deserved a top drive.
THOUGHTS ON THE RACE
HE: Another great race from Malaysia. Ferrari scored another own goal as I think they had the quickest car this weekend. Hamilton will certainly take another points boost, but the Merc really struggled this weekend. The two Red Bulls were surprisingly quick and I think they could well get in the way of the championship fight for the rest of the year.
BH: I’m sad to see the Malaysian GP disappear from the calendar. This race may not have been the circuits’ best, but there have been plenty of entertaining battles over the years (check out the 2001 race that F1 have put on their YouTube channel). It’s a shame that the Ricciardo/Vettel didn’t last a little longer and that they couldn’t quite get to Hamilton as well, but it was nice to see Red Bull on the pace at a circuit you wouldn’t expect. Vettel has just about salvaged his chance of winning the title with that brilliant drive, but it’s definitely backs against the wall for Ferrari now.
SS: Bye bye and thank you Malaysia. We have had some crazy races here (multi 21) and some races to forget. Over its history, the Sepang circuit has created some incredible battles and it is a real shame to see it go. The race had moments of excitement but I wish they all just lasted a little longer. Ferrari need to go balls to the wall in the last few races, otherwise Mercedes will have a walk in the park… Onto Suzuka.