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The Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday saw a resurgent Lewis Hamilton take the victory but I’d like to talk about the sound of the cars…just kidding.

The grand prix was a dry-weather affair with the threat of potential rain. The possibility had some teams running long stints in case it should begin to but the typical Malaysian afternoon storm never factored.

Mercedes were the class of the field using their fuel judiciously and finding reliability for Hamilton’s car while his teammate secured 2nd and represented the first one, two result for the team since Monza in 1955.

The days started off with an ominous omen for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo as the much-discussed fuel flow sensor had failed on his car but his bad luck didn’t end there. An un-secured front-left wheel and unsafe release into the pitlane meant a 1-second stop/go penalty and a grid penalty for the next race in Bahrain. Seems a bit harsh given this young man’s performances in the first two races and both penalties being completely out of his control.

His teammate, Sebastian Vettel, made a huge recovery from Australia to secure third in Malaysia and may have just signaled that Red Bull could be the team who is making the biggest development leaps on the grid thus far.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso battled with Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg to claim 4th just ahead of the German. Alonso’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, had a puncture from the front wing of McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and languished in the back of the field all day to finish 12th.

Williams F1’s Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa provided the controversy of the day when the Finnish driver was told to hold station behind Massa. Bottas radioed that Massa needed to get on with business because he was holding him up. Later, the team radioed Massa and told him to not hold Bottas up but the Brazilian ignored team orders and the pair finished 7th and 8th for the day. Massa defended his actions while Bottas took the high road and denied comment.

World feed got good racing right

As for the race itself, I won’t dwell on the engine noise—which is still very difficult for me to digest—but I will say that the overall impression I got from this race is that Formula 1’s world-feed television producers got it right today. What do I mean?

You see, one of the criticisms I have about F1 is that we rarely see some of the best on-track action as it unfolds. Today’s broadcast saw producers reading the timing & scoring charts intently and changing to battles that were unfolding or were about to unfold. We saw great tussles between Raikkonen and Grosjean in 12th and Kobayashi and Magnussen as well as Hulkenberg and Alonso.

I realize that the battle for 12th isn’t a points-paying battle but it’s good racing and F1 is remiss in not focusing on the “good racing” portion of its product because we don’t consider it of value due to its being outside the points-paying positions.

If nothing is happening with Lewis or Nico, then focus on Chilton and Ericsson or the Williams duo or Sauber’s Sutil and Kobayashi. Let us see actual racing for positions, not just racing for points.

Today I got a much better sense of that from the FOM world feed and I applaud them for finding the action—when there wasn’t any at the sharp end of the grid—and then showing us that action. Good job folks.

Star of the show? Nico Hulkenberg. Bottas a close second.

Pos Driver                Team                    Time/Gap
 1. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes                1m40m25.974s
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                +17.313s
 3. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        +24.534s
 4. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 +35.992s
 5. Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes    +47.199s
 6. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        +1m23.691s
 7. Felipe Massa          Williams-Mercedes       +1m25.076s
 8. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Mercedes       +1m25.537s
 9. Kevin Magnussen       McLaren-Mercedes        +1 lap
10. Daniil Kvyat          Toro Rosso-Renault      +1 lap
11. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault           +1 lap
12. Kimi Raikkonen        Ferrari                 +1 lap
13. Kamui Kobayashi       Caterham-Renault        +1 lap
14. Marcus Ericsson       Caterham-Renault        +2 laps
15. Max Chilton           Marussia-Ferrari        +2 laps

Retirements:

    Daniel Ricciardo      Red Bull-Renault        49 laps
    Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari          35 laps
    Adrian Sutil          Sauber-Ferrari          32 laps
    Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Renault      18 laps
    Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Ferrari        8 laps
    Pastor Maldonado      Lotus-Renault           7 laps
    Sergio Perez          Force India-Mercedes    0 laps

Drivers' championship:

 1. Nico Rosberg       43
 2. Lewis Hamilton     25   
 3. Fernando Alonso    24   
 4. Jenson Button      23   
 5. Kevin Magnussen    20   
 6. Nico Hulkenberg    18   
 7. Sebastian Vettel   15   
 8. Valtteri Bottas    14   
 9. Kimi Raikkonen     6    
10. Felipe Massa       6   
11. Jean-Eric Vergne   4   
12. Daniil Kvyat       3   
13. Sergio Perez       1   

Constructors' championship:

 1. Mercedes                 68 
 2. McLaren-Mercedes         43 
 3. Ferrari                  30 
 4. Williams-Mercedes        20 
 5. Force India-Mercedes     19 
 6. Red Bull-Renault         15 
 7. Toro Rosso-Renault       7  
 8. Sauber-Ferrari           0  
 9. Lotus-Renault            0  
10. Caterham-Renault         0  
11. Marussia-Ferrari         0
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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Rapierman

    Anyone get the feeling that the FIA / stewards have it in for Ricciardo?

    • No. Victim of circumstance this race.

      • Agreed, but you have to give him a hand, he’s done a terrific job so far.

        • Rapierman

          True, he’s been doing so well, but he deserves better than what he’s gotten so far. Given what’s happened in Australia, and now this, my paranoid mind just simply believes that someone’s out to get him. I’m just weird that way.

    • Anyone get the feeling that Ricciardo is getting hit with the same “gremlins” as Webber did?

      • Rapierman

        Point.

      • UAN

        you mean similar to Vettel’s DNF in AUS?

  • jiji the cat

    RE: Ricciardo; he has done a good job so far. I liked seeing the battle between the Hulk and Alonso, towards the end of last year these two had some great battles and it looks like it has carried through to this year.

  • Some thoughts:

    – Mercedes still seems to toy with the opposition.

    – Red Bull is catching up fast though. It’s clear that Renault is holding them back.

    – Ferrari with a good effort, despite Kimi’s rotten luck. Clearly #3 right now.

    – McLaren slightly disappointing. One would expect them to improve more from race to race.

    – Williams with a decent performance, however, they already seem to fall back in the development war.

    – Once again a brilliant performance by Hülkenberg. Best of the Mercedes customer cars, now that’s something.

    – Williams shot themselves in the foot with their team orders. Bottas was always unlikely to catch Button, but now the atmosphere within the team is poisoned. That certainly wasn’t worth it.

  • JasonI

    I’m glad that required tire stops, DRS, and aero restrictions have done so much to spice up the racing, while the new rules have really tightened up the field.
    /sarcasm

  • Honestly, guys, listening to BBC Five Live extra’s coverage of the race – with McNish giving TRUE value – made everything so less stupid and banal. I got a VPN so i can stream it live or later while i push the skip button on the ridiculous amount of commercials NBCSN put out. During three commercials “breaks” (holidays?) some of the best coverage happened.
    Oh, and remember Hob’s disdain for Kobi last race when he rammed the back of another car? well, McNish said, at the time, “he couldn’t slow down..” and this weekend confirmed that Kobi had 100% brake failure. Nice to have expert commentators. And I am not denigrating Steve here, he’s the only thing making NBC work at all.

    • I watched part of a taped NBC broadcast of Quali (in between a wedding and reception; pathetic, I know…), and it struck me that perhaps NBC is trying to inject excitement a la NBA. IMO, US basketball commentators use inflection and “Wow!/Look at that!/Boom!” statements to add energy to the show.

      NFL does the same, but details strategy and technical performance as well; NFL expects the audience to learn and keep up w/ the sport’s distinct ins-and-outs. It’s a more palatable experience for me, and one which the British broadcasts I prefer seem to take.

      Perhaps because our native motorsports catered to a different demographic and are intrinsically less complex/convoluted, and also because F1 is a “foreign” sport and we Americans are xenophobes, US broadcasters dumb down our content; I agree, it does the sport no favors.

      Aside: I listened to a BBC audio broadcast of FP1 via your recommendation; Coulthard and the play by play guy (Edwards I think?) did a great job. Thanks for that :)

  • Brody

    Hopefully as a result of the dominating performance by Lewis yesterday at Malaysia, will dispel the idea that Nico is the only cerebral person, in the Mercedes driver lineup.

    • It very well may but what does Nico’s dominance in Oz dispel? :)