Malaysian GP: drivers of the weekend

Claiming pole, defending the lead into turn 1 and going on to dominate the race, Lewis Hamilton led home Mercedes’ first 1-2 finish since Stirling Moss’ supreme drive ahead of the great Fangio at Silverstone in 1955.

After opening up a gap to his team mate seemingly with ease, the team felt comfortable enough in both Hamilton’s position, and ability, to turn down the engine mapping by lap 20. The brit’s spectacular weekend netted him his 23rd triumph, 55th podium, 100th points finish, and 33rd pole position – placing him atop the mountain of British drivers in terms of sheer pace after equalling pole position totals with the legendarily fast Jim Clark. Hamilton drove a controlled, methodical and classy race – managing to win with ease, finishing with a 17 second void between himself and Nico Rosberg – representing a vast chasm between them, not just in the classified result, but also more significantly, in simple terms of quality. Provided Mercedes continues to deliver Hamilton such a complete car, every faith should be placed in the British star to continue completing the package with more phenomenal victories.

Honourable mentions are deservedly awarded to Nico Hulkenberg and Sebastian Vettel, who both wrestled deceptively troublesome machinery to finish an enormously respectable 3rd and 5th. Onboard footage showed Vettel wrestling his car into submission over every bump, through every corner and around every curb throughout the entire 56 lap marathon and amazingly come out the other end to step onto the only podium position left unoccupied by a Mercedes. Whilst the Red Bull is undeniably a fast car – probably second behind the Silver Arrows – it is clearly a car of uncharacteristic twitchiness and imbalance, as shown by side by side comparisons of Hamilton’s pole lap and Vettel’s second place. The Mercedes’ well-oiled, consistent and predictable run juxtaposed with the clearly tail happy, over-responsive and poorly balanced car Vettel endured but astonishingly ended the session closer to Hamilton than anyone else. If the reining world champion continues to tame his animalistic car in a similar manner to Fernando Alonso’s past Ferrari fiascos, he could well earn more respect and recognition than his four championships have previously gained him.

Hulkenberg, meanwhile, impressed as ever as he battled Fernando Alonso for much of the second half of the race and engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle that fans and critics simply do not expect of a driver so lacking in experience. The returning Force India driver raced with the perfect balance between smoothness and ruthless brute force as he briefly bulldozed past Alonso with a handful of laps to go. At 26 years old, Hulkenberg was able to test Alonso, a double
World champion, to the limit despite having an inferior vehicle to his name. Although he possesses nothing more than a solid midfield package, Hulkenberg continues to impress as he battles top names in top cars as he pursues positions his car simply shouldn’t touch. The German prospect continues to endure being agonisingly overlooked by winning teams, yet persists in putting forward a very convincing case as to why such an injustice should be revised.

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