The second round of the 2015 Formula 1 season produced a massive surprise in the shape of a non-Mercedes winner. Whilst a lot of teams had their drivers finishing alongside each other in the standings, some drivers had notably better performances than others compared to their team-mates in the same car. The Williams and Red Bull drivers respectively produced some thrilling inter-team battles.
2015 Malaysia Grand Prix Driver Ratings
Hamilton narrowly took pole position after a fantastic first lap in wet conditions, despite a wobble coming out of the second fast left-right chicane. He started pretty solidly, and worked his way through the traffic expertly, but ultimately he had no answer for the German in the red car on the day.
It was another weekend where Rosberg’s team mate Hamilton seemed a bit better in every area. Hamilton qualified better, started better, raced better and so on. Rosberg should be pretty happy that he only dropped three points to his team-mate as opposed to the seven that he would have done had it been another Mercedes 1-2.
Ricciardo seemed pretty handy in the wet qualifying, despite being over a second behind Rosberg’s Mercedes. The race, however, was the complete opposite. Not only was Ricciardo being challenged frequently by his young new team-mate Daniil Kvyat, he was even shown up by the Toro Rossos. It was clear that Ricciardo was unhappy with the car once again, and it was a largely disappointing performance by the Australian.
Kvyat himself was shown up by the Toro Rossos this weekend. After nearly being outqualified by Max Verstappen, Kvyat made up for this by showing his team-mate that he can race well. However, Kvyat was involved in an incident which I felt was his fault and not Nico Hülkenberg’s, yet the young Russian still beat his team-mate.
I think that Williams achieved the maximum that was possible for them at Malaysia, as it was clear that Ferrari have made a significant step forward. Unable to hold off the recovering Kimi Räikkönen, Massa had to settle for battling his team-mate by the end; a battle which he lost. Nevertheless, his start was pretty spectacular.
Bottas seemed pretty much nowhere in qualifying, yet lined up alongside Massa on the grid. After a pretty poor start, he managed to work his way up through the field, eventually catching and passing his team-mate in spectacular fashion. All in all I feel that there was little to choose between the two this weekend.
Star of the Weekend. Ferrari are back. They are well and truly back with a bang and so is Sebastian Vettel. After a woeful 2014, the German was clearly delivering the sort of performance we came accustomed to at the end of the 2013 season, where he won nine in a row. What impressed me most with Vettel this weekend was his Q3 lap, which was one tenth down on Lewis Hamilton despite running a low downforce set-up, which is not ideal in the rain. Vettel absolutely deserved this race win on merit.
Räikkönen’s weekend really went down the drain during Q2, where he missed out on the final part of qualifying after a poor lap. This led him to being in the middle of the pack where he was liable to get hit by somebody and that is precisely what happened. The safety car did help Räikkönen regain some of the lost time but from then on the Finn worked his way up to fourth really well.
Shaded in qualifying, Alonso ensured us that he lost none of his racecraft when battling the lower midfield on race day. He was racing pretty well when the ERS gave up early into the race.
Button beat Alonso on merit in qualifying, but he was unable to quite match him on race pace. He did last longer than his team-mate, but ultimately was unable to bring the car home in the very tough conditions at Malaysia.
Perez was outqualified by Hülkenberg but managed to outrace the German. Both got involved in unnecessary accidents in which both were wrongly punished. The two were pretty much inseparable all weekend.
Hülkenberg had a very similar performance to Perez this weekend, but he was marginally bettered by his team-mate in race trim, despite the German running right at the front for a solid chunk of the race. It is unknown, however, whether either incident damaged the cars, which may have had an impact on finishing positions.
Verstappen has well and truly arrived. After a phenomenal performance to get the car to sixth on the grid in qualifying, the incredibly young Dutchman showed some excellent wheel-to-wheel abilities, most notably against the senior Red Bull drivers. Even if you put his age to one side, as a rookie it was a superb drive.
Sainz made a pretty big mess of things in Q2, but he was able to use his tyres effectively and get well into the points, and even battled with Verstappen to ensure that he didn’t steal all of the limelight. Whilst Verstappen won the battle this time around, Sainz was not all that far behind at the end of the day. It was another really strong Sunday drive by the Spaniard.
Grosjean ruined a good qualifying by earning himself a two-place grid penalty for jumping the queue in the pit lane. Like Hülkenberg, he did not pit behind the safety car but eventually dropped back. Grosjean attempted a move on Sergio Perez which would have been spectacular had he not hit the Mexican.
Maldonado had a very tough race weekend in Malaysia. He was outqualified by Grosjean, failed to make it into Q3, and suffered a puncture which was out of his control early on in the race. He was working his way back through the field when he was forced to retire late on.
Stevens did some practice laps, but that was it this weekend.
Merhi’s debut was largely unnoticed as he was with the Manor team which was still coming up to speed. Whilst he did manage to finish the race and show some strong consistent pace whilst doing so, he did struggle to beat the 107% time on the Saturday. He managed to bring the car home albeit three laps down, and that’s all that Manor could ask for really.
Ericsson got into Q2 and Q3 for the first time with a few impressive laps. He was looking quite racy at the start but ultimately this led to his own demise as he clumsily spun off.
Last weekend’s star performer really struggled here this time around. After being knocked out in Q1, he found himself hitting Kimi Räikkönen early in the race, ruining both of their races. From then on we saw very little of Nasr as the only cars he managed to pick off were the Force Indias and the one Manor.
Star of the Weekend Winners:
Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Nasr – 1