The German driver remained calm and focus on Sunday´s race after he wasn´t able to set a time during qualifying session on Saturday due to engine failure.
The team worked hard to get the car ready and problems were solved in time for the race.
“...It’s not good to have a car [like this] and I think we could’ve gone all the way. I said to the guys ‘OK we have a very fast car and at least we saved the tyres’.
“The car is quick, so that’s why maybe I’m relaxed. “Overtaking here is more straightforward [than in Singapore] and I think that if you have a quick car, you can provide quick drives,” Vettel said.
Time will proven him right.
Step by step
Sunday, race day. The weather is everybody´s enemy.
With temperatures raising up to 30 degrees (about 50 inside a cockpit) and high humidity levels all weekend, one can easily say weather conditions were a real nightmare for all drivers, in fact, it was very clear how exhausted they were once the race has finished. Even being fully prepared to it, as drivers have to be, this is a race which demands massively from body and mind.
3pm local time, all engines turned on, red lights going off and 19 cars out of 20 (Kimi Raikkonen fails to start the race due to problems with his turbo and is out) are heading for turn 1 full throttle, no sight of a “Singapore alike” drama this time around.
From the back, Sebastian Vettel resembles the best version of that young guy on a blue racing suit. The four-time world champion, 30-yeard-old German is ready to leave his footprint for the last time at the Sepang race track. Winning the race is not the main target when starting from the twentieth place, getting the closer to it as possible is, and following on that path a red horse is awaken to what will turn out to be an overtaking masterclass.
Recently, I was reading a fascinating article by Pirelly called “Elementary, my dear Watson” about John Watson (71), a former Formula 1 driver considered a master in overtaking who drove for memorable teams such as Penske, Surtees, McLares, Brabham and Lotus.
On his own words: “I don’t think I had a particular secret,” he says. “I guess I just used to position my car in such a way that its body language would say “I’m coming through” “There are so many drivers who manage to convince themselves that there are certain places on a circuit where you can’t overtake. But if you keep an open mind you’ll see that you can and will overtake there: just look at young Max Verstappen.”
LAP 2 - Going up
Vettel, starting from twentieth is now on twelve, gaining eight positions in one lap, at least three of them before reaching turn 1!
Have you seen that? I had to replay it more than once because I guess I blinked a couple times...
That which we, simple mortals can miss with the blink of an eye is part of the fabulous art of racing. Only few drivers have the natural talent within themselves. They go by the name of Sebastian Vettel, Max Vestappen, or Fernando Alonso. To them and to the maneuvers like the ones those drivers have us used to, we can take our hats off. They make it look as easy to the point we forget they´re speeding at 300/k.
We´re seeing some of the finests drivers in racing, nowadays, they´re the reason why we all stand up and say “Wow!”.
The extraordinary moments lived last Sunday, allowing us to see into Formula One´s soul are unforgettable. Fans around the world gather to watch a race whatever time zone they´re in, moved by the passion which racing inspires, it ain´t just about the show, but the greatness beneath it all.
If Robert Kubica is back with Williams for 2018, we can end up having one of the greatest seasons in a decade and with 21 races!
Back on track
Lap 12, while Felipe Massa heads to the pits, Sebastian stands on the eight position, but somewhere in and between, Max Verstappen with his Red Bull has taken the lead from Lewis Hamilton on lap 4. Suddenly the circuit is colored orange.
If Malaysia wanted to leave a good impression on its farewell, it succeeded. The race has been one the best of the championship so far and if you think you´ve seen it all just wait! There´s more to come…
While Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were dealing with their Mercedes “gremlins” on P2 and P5 respectively, Esteban Ocon “Pink Panther” is spotted heading into the pits as early as in lap 3, due to some contact with Felipe Massa at the first lap.
The french driver (21) did not brought attention on him for the wrong reasons, by the contrary, he went through the 56 laps as he had been driving the Toro Rosso for 20 years or so.
On his official debut with a Formula One car, he delivered a solid performance and for those wondering whether the seat is his, actions have spoken loud and clear him showing why he was there now in the first place. I wouldn't expect him to go anywhere other than to win the Super Formula Championship 2017.
He ended the race fourteen, another young talent has arrived to Formula One.
Next year the French Grand Prix is finally back into the Formula One official calendar. Formula One is going back into the days when most drivers had their own home races, something fans truly appreciate, so is the case with the German Grand Prix back for next season.
These are races that shouldn´ve never been out in the first place.
Lap 21, Vettel is now fifth, all on merit and still going strong. He heads to the pits by lap 28 as well as Verstappen does. The Red Bull´s pit stop would turned out to be the fastest (2.21”)
Unlike Red Bull, Ferrari is ready to wear what suits it best, it´s time for the supersofts red tyres.
The German driver gets back on track still fifth but now with Valtteri Bottas behind him, strategy is starting to work for the Italian squad.
Reds would pay off, by lap 35 Sebastian Vettel starts breaking the fastest lap record held by Juan Pablo Montoya since 2004.
By lap 42 (already P4) Vettel smashes all the previous times making an incredible lap time of 1:34.080 and settling the new and last fastest lap record of the Malaysia Grand Prix.
Ferrari was extremely fast and Sebastian Vettel gave his all to make it count.
The championship´s standings are the following:
Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 281 points followed by Sebastian Vettel – Scuderia Ferrari – 247 points.
A gap of 34 points between both drivers with only four races to go. An absolutely thrilling end of the season is granted.
Sebastian Vettel was also voted as driver of the day,
Sergio Perez achieved a remarkable result finishing sixth overcoming a stomach illness.
"It was probably the hardest race of my career, on a weekend in which I feared I would need to give up"
"I was only under pressure from Vettel, but that was not really my fight". "I hope to be back to full fitness in Japan." said Pérez.
Stoffel Vandoorne finished seventh before teammate Fernando Alonso for the first time during the season.
Fernando Alonso arrived eleventh, scoring no points in this race.
Reliability issues for McLaren were no where to be found, the team worked as a perfect machine all weekend.
Sebastian Vettel finished the race fourth and then, well, then Stroll happened...but what did really happened?
Everybody is celebrating, Max Verstappen wins the last Malaysia Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium.
The camera suddenly shows the image of a crashed Ferrari with the left-rear tyre just on top of it, Sebastian Vettel gets out of the car and asks Pascal Wherlein to give him a lift to the pits. Believe it or not, the scene is true, a collision post-race is odd to say at least!
FIA stated no further action will be taken and Ferrari confirmed that Vettel´s gear box haven´t suffer any damage, so a grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend , has been avoided.
"I went on the outside to pick up a bit of rubber," "I think Lance wasn't looking and wanted to do the same. I think he was looking at his [steering] wheel. I gave him enough room" said Vettel.
"I was just shutting off the car, like to do the in-lap, and he just came around the outside and kept pushing," said Stroll.
Please feel free to share your opinion with us regarding this awkward incident.