Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2016

Hamilton’s title hopes take a hit as Ricciardo snatches win

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Moments after the Malaysian Grand Prix started, it seemed events had conspired for once in Lewis Hamilton’s favour this year.

While he made a clean getaway from pole position, Nico Rosberg came under attack – and was sent spinning to the back of the field.

But a cruel twist lay in store for Hamilton – one which dealt his championship hopes a serious blow.

Vettel harpoons Rosberg

Start, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Vettel knocked Rosberg into a spin
Hamilton went into the race in great shape. He and the Mercedes W07 clicked immediately with the resurfaced and far smoother Sepang circuit. He took one of the most straightforward pole positions of the year.

And, crucially, he maintained that advantage at the start. But Rosberg was quickly in trouble.

A rapid start by Sebastian Vettel opened up the opportunity for him to pass both the Red Bulls. Daniel Ricciardo had got away slowly, but Max Verstappen’s start was better, and as he approached turn one he pinched Vettel towards the inside.

Slightly ahead of them an unaware Rosberg was turning into the first corner. Vettel arrived slightly too quickly, understeered wide and struck the Mercedes. Reacting swiftly, Verstappen dodged around the pair of them. He was slightly delayed, Rosberg fell to the back of the back, and Vettel retired with broken suspension.

Cue the recriminations. Vettel, mindful of a similar incident at Spa a few weeks ago, tried to implicate Verstappen. But the error was plainly his alone and the stewards recognised as much: their summary didn’t even mention the Red Bull driver.

Vettel was given a three-place grid penalty for the next round. Bottas copped a drive-through for a similar move on Hamilton in Bahrain, so the Ferrari driver should perhaps consider himself fortunate.

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Verstappen takes advantage of VSC

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Verstappen passed Raikkonen and Perez
What Rosberg needed now was a Safety Car – an actual one which would bunch the field up, rather than a virtual one which wouldn’t. But the VSC was deployed. It looked like it wasn’t going to be Rosberg’s day.

Verstappen quickly recovered from his early setback. He was primed and ready when the VSC period ended and immediately jumped past Raikkonen. He was soon by Perez as well, and Raikkonen demoted the Force India driver another position by lap four.

Three laps later the Virtual Safety Car was called for again, this time after a brake failure fired Romain Grosjean’s Haas into the gravel trap at turn 15. This was far enough into the race for several drivers to take the opportunity for a quick pit stop.

The first among them was Verstappen, who took on another set of used soft tyres. He emerged close enough to Hamilton that, at racing speeds, the Mercedes was at risk of dropping behind the Red Bull when he made his first pit stop.

Mercedes therefore stretched Hamilton’s first stint, leaving him out until lap 20 before bringing him in for hard tyres. Ricciardo stayed out a lap longer and Verstappen, who had passed Raikkonen again when the Ferrari driver headed for the pits, now led.

Hamilton out of luck again

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Hamilton’s engine failed to go the distance
Verstappen came in for his second pit stop six laps after his team mate. This time he rejoined in front of Raikkonen, and on his slightly fresher hard tyres be began closing on Ricciardo.

By lap 37 less than a second covered the Red Bull drivers, and Verstappen radioed the team urging them to let him by. Three years ago ‘multi 21’ had proved an ineffective radio message; perhaps on this occasion ‘multi 333’ would have been too confusing. No such radio message was apparently used, and instead Verstappen tried to take second place the hard way.

It came very close to working. Verstappen and Ricciardo pushed each other to the limit in a superb exhibition of hard but fair racing. Ricciardo narrowly prevailed. That proved critical, because a few moments later this battle for second place became the battle for victory.

In a stunning twist, Hamilton’s Mercedes power unit expired on the main straight. “I just lost power all of a sudden,” he explain. “You could hear something blew and I obviously had to stop.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Rosberg barged past Raikkonen
Just as Hamilton had seemed poised to eradicate his team mate’s title lead, his retirement strengthened Rosberg’s position. Making matters worse for Hamilton, Rosberg passed Raikkonen, elbowing the Ferrari aside at turn two. The stewards were unhappy with the contact, and gave Rosberg a ten-second penalty.

Fortunately the team had practised for such an occurrence during the build-up to the race, after spending too long on a similar penalty during the German Grand Prix. Once he rejoined the track, and after being given permission to use a higher power mode for a few laps, he was easily able to pull out enough of a lead to ensure he kept the place.

Red Bull pitted Ricciardo and Verstappen during the final VSC period. This ensured their one-two, as Verstappen no longer had a tyre advantage to close Ricciardo down and risk any contact. That cemented a return to the top step of the podium for Ricciardo for the first time since Spa in 2014. He may have lucked in, but it was some recompense for his misfortunes in Spain and Monaco.

Palmer makes his point

Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Palmer claimed his first F1 point
Three VSC periods meant there were plenty of drivers ruing strategies which had gone wrong, and others quietly thanking their fortune. However Valtteri Bottas wasn’t one of them: he made a single-stop strategy work and brought his Williams home in front of both Force Indias.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg sandwiched Fernando Alonso, who had enjoyed an essentially free pit stop after Hamilton retired. Nonetheless he had recovered brilliantly from last on the grid. Jenson Button was hard done by having made his final pit stop shortly before the VSC, missing out on an opportunity for a free stop.

The final point, and the first of his career, went to Jolyon Palmer. It was a deserved reward for a driver who had run well in practice but slipped up in qualifying.

Back on a track where engine performance counts, the Toro Rossos struggled. Carlos Sainz Jnr finished behind a Renault – admittedly only by around three seconds, but that was the difference between scoring a point and missing out. Daniil Kvyat struggled with fading brakes.

Romain Grosjean had even more severe brake problems – a failure pitching him off the track at the last corner early in the race. It was a miserable race for Haas, as Esteban Gutierrez suffered a puncture early on and finally retired when a wheel detached itself from his car.

Hamilton’s hopes take a hit

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Hamilton was on course to take the points lead
Before the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend Hamilton had already described his 2016 championship campaign as the most luckless of his decade-long career. It’s hard to argue with that, even though this was his first race-ending technical failure. He has endured a string of other faults which were not his doing which have cost him a lot of points.

His deficit to Rosberg now stands at 23. That’s far from insurmountable with up to 125 remaining over the final five races. But that’s only if his car doesn’t let him down. His disconsolate comments after the race made plain his loss of faith in his hardware.

The inevitable clamour about ‘conspiracies’, too dull and too predictable to be worth repeating here, was not lessened by Hamilton’s vague insinuations about ‘someone or something’ not wanting him to win the championship. He later indicated the object of his suspicions was spiritual rather than solid.

However Mercedes’ mortification at the latest problem to strike their star driver was obvious. Particularly as it came at the home race of their title sponsor, and one where they had been widely expected to clinch the constructors’ championship.

“One thing we had made a priority was to ensure an equal competition between the drivers in the final phase of the season,” said executive director for technical Paddy Lowe, “with no distortion of the battle through technical problems”.

“Unfortunately, we have failed in that objective today in brutal fashion.”

Rosberg’s remarkable drive to third following his first-lap misfortune completed a stunning swing in fortunes between the two championship contenders. The title isn’t his yet, but his claim to it is now stronger than ever.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Sepang International Circuit, 2016
Ricciardo dedicated his win to Jules Bianchi – and celebrated in his now-traditional style

78 comments on “Hamilton’s title hopes take a hit as Ricciardo snatches win”

  1. He may have lucked in, but it was some recompense for his misfortunes in Spain and Canada.

    Should this not say ‘Spain and Monaco’?

    1. It shouldn’t say Spain at all. The myth that prevails.

      1. Eh? Ricciardo was leading in Spain before the team pitted him 3 times, and put Verstappen on the faster 2 stop, and his final pit stop was only 2 or 3 laps later than the 2 stoppers, so he could hardly even use the advantage of fresher tyres.

        1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
          3rd October 2016, 16:38

          yes but that was due to the fact that Max nursed his tires better .. the tires of Ricciardo were completely gone and that’s why they had to pit him one more time because his lap times was dropping dramatically and Max his lap times was constant like a clock!

      2. no myth, Ricciardo was the driver in front in the team mate battle, yet the team prioritized Verstappens strategy.

        1. Precisely…..it had Horner’s prints all over it.

  2. Something ain’t right with Lewis misfortunes, I’m not for the conspiration theories but it’s just too weird that all these engines failures are only on Lewis’s car, my most personal logical explanation is that Mercedes swapped the mechanics for this purpose so it can seem so natural, after all a champion’s grade mechanics must be the best, Rosberg hugely benefited from it so he can be a champion as well but only time will tell.

    1. I don’t buy the mechanic theory, it was only a few team members who swapped and I doubt they were enough to help Lewis win for 2 years before being replaced by people who don’t know what they’re doing. The whole team is made of professionals and there’s not going to be a huge difference between them.

      It’s quite possibly that, like some drivers are hard on tyres, Hamilton is hard on engines with his throttle control, braking, modes, gear changes etc.

      Or this is exactly how it looks – a coincidence. Whatever the reason is it gave us a great race and while I sympathise with Hamilton it’s nice to see a non mercedes winner.

      1. @glynh So are you implying that Hamiltons driving style has changed dramatically this season? Because I don’t remember him ever having so many car/engine issues in one season.

        Remember also, the MB engine is powering more than just the works team, and none of the others are experiencing anything like what he is experiencing.

        Coincidence? Hmm….. getting harder to believe with each incident.

        1. Yup, username checks out…

    2. it wasn’t the swap. Although for the reasons Toto gave for the swap you might think he was talking out his bum. Lewis had several failures in qualifying in 2014, not unlike this year, he also had obvious incompetence hit him last year when someone forgot to tighten down a hose clamp.

      The problem has nothing to do with his mechanics, it has everything to do with his crew chief and Toto Wolff, if they run a more conventional program. Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if Toto micromanages based on he seems to be more incline towards the PR end of the spectrum and he made most of his money gambling on stocks, vs actually attaining experience leading people and working in a competitive business environment.

      Lewis problems come down to a team that really doesn’t seem to hold anyone accountable for making mistakes, and thats clearly one guys’ fault, even if Merc pretend to have more than one boss (for what ever reason :)

      And to be honest, if Ross were running the show, before they told him to become one of the many chiefs or leave, I seriously doubt he would be allowing these kinds of lapses in discipline to be occurring. Just my 2 cents. I personally thought 2014 was ridiculous in how Lewis issues in qualifying effectively brought Nico back in to the championship, despite Lewis losing out in the first round after his engine blew. But this year is so far out there it’s ridiculous, no other team in F1 is enjoying this amount of issues save probably Renault, who really are just in F1 to save face for Renault and are handed probably an obscenely low budget to make it past the finish line.

      But you don’t actually have to read very far, Toto said it would come down the last race, and I am sure it will. I would even go so far as to say Lewis might actually win it. You never know, but if Lewis was given the same opportunity as his teammate, this year would almost be over by now.

      1. @xsavior C’mon. Can you at least present any proper evidence for your ridiculous claims. You seem like a good guy but you’re letting your fantasy take over and ignore the reality. You’re so stuck in your fanaticism for Hamilton that you’re just making yourself look ridiculous, to the point it’s getting annoying (to me at least).

      2. You mean if Ross was running the show, there would not be any doubts over wether one driver is favoured because everyone would know that there is a clear number one, there would be no competition thanks to team orders, and, quite possibly, actually unequally well-maintained equipment?
        Lets face it, Ross might be a genious, but he’s ……not nice. These last three seasons would have been a complete and utter snorefest. “Let Lewis pass for the championship”. Nooooo thank you.

    3. I wonder how much can be done to a specific chassis and other parts used every week-end or for long stretches like transmission, gearboxes, and so on… They are probably manufacturing parts with very small tolerances and you will always have the lottery to build your car with a set matching best or worst and that can make a difference on the constraints, wear, temperature,…
      It seems indeed more than just bad luck on the engines which have been fitted into his car, but still it can happen or be triggered by smaller insignificant origins.

    4. @abdelilah I don’t believe in superstition, that only brings you bad luck… ;)

      1. It’s all rubbish. Lewis is just having more than his fair share of bad luck. It happens to all drivers, they seem to get more of the “gremlins” than others.
        For the conspiracy theorists, if anything Merc would conspire to let Lewis win, as they pay him much more, he is their global ambassador and much more popular worldwide than Rosberg!

      2. @matthijs I don’t either, but how can we explain all the misery for Lewis ? and crucially when he is leading.

        1. @abdelilah Bad luck perhaps?

          1. @matthijs or incompetence from at least a member of the swapped mechanics ?

        2. It doesn’t happen any other time because he’s always leading. Whenever Nico has had a failure he’s pretty much always already trailing.

          1. this was the first time when he is leading, get over it.

    5. Never ascribe malice when it’s more likely to be incompetence.

      Let’s not forget Nico for the last couple years suffered more car issues than Lewis did, infamously depriving us of a last race title fight last year when Nico’s MGU-K went bye bye and suddenly he had turbo lag to deal with.

      Now that they swapped mechanics around, isn’t it more likely someone who moved did a half assed job somewhere? Far more likely (and just as coincidental) than any conspiracy theory crap.

    6. Maybe Hamilton is using the highest setting of the engine too much, has anyone questioned that? remember in 2014 he didn’t listen to team orders and used the highest setting to pass Rosberg on track.

      1. I don’t think so, he said afterwards he wasn’t even pushing, and why would he being 20 sec ahead ?

  3. The curse of trying to beat/equal the longest winning streak ever in formula 1

    1. That probably won’t be achieved if the change in regulations for 2017 evens the field.

    2. That’s it! Nice catch.

  4. Rosberg. OK, so I’m not a Rosberg fan at all. He made two bad moves on race day, one at turn 1 on the opening lap, shutting the door too much and not anticipating another car would shoot the gap he left open. Also, his “overtaking” Raikkonen, which was a pretty juvenile move, IMO. Rosberg definitely does not have the racecraft / overtaking prowess of HAM / RIC / VES / ALO.

    Despite this, I’m so sick an tired of the crowd boo-ing Rosberg during the podium celebrations. He’s not a villain, he’s not a bad guy, albeit a bit whiney.

    So can someone tell me, why so much booing still?

    1. @thrillerwa09 there’s absolutely no reason why Rosberg should pay attention at what happens behind him. Neither Max nor Seb were alongisde him, so he’s free to chose whatever line he wants. Even Vettel said that.

      And then on Kimi. Yes it was more touring cars than open wheelers, but he made it stick. It was hard but fair. I sense that had it been Max Verstappen doing it, everyone would be applauding like it was the greatest move ever. Rosberg did it, and it was great. Alternatively, he could’ve waited for the next DRS zone… and that’s just boring.

      1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
        3rd October 2016, 16:45

        on the contrary .. if verstappen had done that to Kimi in the race there would have been a hurricane of insults on all the F1 forums and another bunch of death threats to Max instead of the breeze of critisism that Rosberg got this race!!

    2. Germans don’t see him as German, Fins don’t see him as Finish and Monogask (Nico was born and raised there) people are… well there barely are any and they’re too busy paying in €75k per square meter real estate.

      To me he just doesn’t seem very likable/funny on camera, hard to relate to in general I guess and of course is up against one of the most popular drivers in F1 history.

      Add to that his mediocre racecraft and lack of heroic fight he has won. He’s very quick and knows how to win from the front.

      To me, in a straight fight (or at least more competative than this year) with RBR and Ferrari I personalky recon he’d finish 6th out of 6.

      1. yet he beats Hamilton.. ie at last race very easily with a .7 second advantage in qualifying… what does that say of Hamilton?

        1. In one race. Hamilton beat him two years long. What’s your point again?

        2. That 0.7 second advantage in qualifying for pole spoke volumes on the car, not the driver.
          The fact that Hamilton finished 3rd told its own story.

          Given how easy it was for the pundits to parrot the claims that this was all due to Hamilton and his life off circuit, is it any wonder that this time around he should make a bigger noise about the reliability of his car?

          Put another way, Rosberg wasn’t a 0.7 better driver, he simply had the car with the better setup.

    3. maybe people respect people who actually earn their own title, vs having it handed to them on a silver platter.
      Funny how that kind of mirrors one guys’ upbringing over the other. I think its a good sign, nobody else seems interested or able to keep Mercedes honest this year, might as well be some fans, who paid a lot of money to watch someone lead a championship because the team don’t seem fit enough to offer the same opportunity to the other guy.

      1. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
        3rd October 2016, 5:47

        Going from last to third without a SC is not what I call “handed to them on a silver platter”.
        Rosberg has improved significantly this year and has been very close to Hamilton.
        When things are so close it is only natural that luck can be a deciding factor.

        10 years ago it was Alonso that was getting all the luck while Raikonnen was having one retirement after another. By your logic Alonso was gifted those two titles on a silver platter.

        1. @exeviolthor What @xsavior is implying is that Hamilton had to work numerous jobs in his spare time just so he was able to afford a second hand cart, fight agains racism and the ever lasting pull to the ghetto whilst Rosberg basically paid his way into F1 because after all he was born rich. Completely ignoring both won a GP2 title and basically both have very respectable junior records.

          After that he continues to once again insinuate Mercedes are not treating both drivers equally despite there being no evidence for it, Hamilton winning the last two titles, etc,…

          1. Well OK, I fully respect Hamilton as, even though he is coming from a humble background, he is very successful in a rich man’s sport.

            But I think that @xsavior was replying to why Rosberg is being booed this season. If it is because his father was rich then what could one say about Senna for example?

            What @xsavior is saying is that just the way Hamilton had difficult formation year whereas Rosberg did not, in the same way Hamilton had to fight for his Championships whereas Rosberg is being gifted his (provided he wins it of course).

            To me it seems the other way around as Hamilton has won all his three Championships against inferior teammates whereas Rosberg has to beat… Hamilton!!!

    4. Agree about the move on RAI, but I don’t see any fault at the 1st corner incident. It’s obviously VET’s fault there.

  5. Lewis engine failure was probably the most heartbreaking I’ve seen since Badoer’s DNF at the Nurburgring in 1999. His reaction was so sad to watch, he wasn’t even fully stopped and he was already holding his head with one hand, and then the radio message, the “Oh, no, no, no!”.

    I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. These are racing engines, even in an era where reliability is exceptional. They are bound to fail some time or another, even with all the calculations. But you never know, it can always strike Rosberg next time and voila, Lewis would jump into the championship lead, and with fewer races left for Rosberg to recover.

    Kudos to Nico, he drove very well too. Very aggresively, like a guy fighting for a championship should. Wonder what Kimi said about that move, because I thought it was hard but fine. I’ve always said that too many times the stewards impose penalties for nothing… it was a racing incident. And it should be left as such. Good that Nico managed to open up the gap to secure a podium.

    1. Agreed. It doesn’t matter if you support him or not you had to feel for Hamilton when the engine blew, especially after he was actually racing red bulls for once.

      1. @fer-no65 Yeah. Though it doesn’t even come close to what Toyota had earlier this year it’s very hard to lose an almost certain win that way. He’ll bounce back though, I think that’s a given.

      2. I had to suffer through all of Kimi’s Mclaren years. I can and i will laugh my behind off at anyone else blowing up in the lead. It is a hard earned right paid for in the loss of two titles that shall not be given up due to sympathy.

  6. Well written, Keith. Read like the film script of a thriller movie….Thriller in Malaysia, anyone? :-)

  7. Was there a real reason that Max had to stop again during the double-stack? He was already on the hard tyre, was it just the team handing the win to Dan because Dan’s tyres were much older? (And if so, then that’s certainly to be applauded!)

    1. I wondered about this fact too.

      Both RIC and HAM had to stop again, for sure. VES could have gone to the end with those Hard tyres.

      When HAM was still running, he had about 21 secs on VES. A pitstop for soft tyres would have put him behind VES. RIC would be #3. With probably 15 laps to go or so, it would make for an interesting finish to this already eventful race. HAM would probably have overtaken VES, RIC probably not.

      Ted’s Race Notebook mentions bits of this scenario. If VES had stayed out on his Hard tyres he would have won.

      I do agree with RBR management though. “Let’s make the fight fair, get a 1-2 result, so call both in”. Kudos to the RBR strategist who called VES in during the GRO VSC situation. That was a brilliant call.

      Looking at the lap times in the other post, it seems VES was definitely quicker then RIC in the race, almost on par with HAM. Except for the last part, where VES had slightly older tyres and could not get into DRS range, although he tried. So RIC was faster when it mattered most and won. Certainly a victory he had coming.

      Very exciting race!

    2. No.

      If they would have just pitted Daniel and left Max out on track, Daniel would have passed him easily with atleast 2 sec a lap advantage as told by RedBull.

    3. Yeah. The longest stint on the hard tyres was 31 laps from Palmer, including 2 VSC periods, and the Bottas did 27 laps with 1 VSC period, like what Max would’ve had to do on his set. Max would’ve had to of done 29 laps on his, and if just Daniel had pitted, there would’ve been around a 15 seconds gap as they pitted under the VSC, with 15 laps to go. Daniel would’ve easily closed by more than 1 second per lap on a set of softs that had only done an installation lap, and passed him easily, and would’ve probably had quite a large gap to him as well. Verstappen could’ve gone to the end, but would’ve still finished 2nd. They could’ve pitted Ricciardo and left Max out for 1 more lap, then pitted him, but it would’ve still ended up with the same situation that they had with the double stack and Ricciardo would’ve probably still won.

    4. Arnoud van Houwelingen
      3rd October 2016, 16:53

      Why would the team handing a win to one of the two drivers? They always should let them fight it out on the track. Alternative strategies should always be conducted without emotion. Strategist analyse the data for the best possible outcome and they advise the team who should pit when (and how many times) and on which tires. This is also what happened in Spain!

  8. Very bad luck for Lewis yesterday, but what do you do? He’s done all that he can, just needs the car to hold up now. Surely its Rosberg’s to loose now. Actually Rosberg was lucky it wasn’t at a track like Singapore, he would of never of made it to 3rd. Suzuka is going to be a cracker

  9. That’s what I want from a Grand Prix – episodes of breathtaking on track contests and emotional ups and downs!
    For a few moments there I actually saw a reason why Nico Rosberg could be a deserving winner of the championship (something I have never felt before). His fight back after being punted out at the start showed real determination and I found myself impressed by the gutsy way he took on Raikkonen. He looked (and sounded on team radio) like he was going to really fight this one out. Then Hamilton’s engine blew with good old fashioned noise, smoke and flames and i realised that no, I actually didn’t think Rosberg should be Champion. Hamilton has had so many technical problems this year that it does not seem like it’s been a fair fight. The pain Hamilton was suffering was so visible that it was impossible not to sympathise. This raw emotion is part of why live sport is such an amazing thing to watch.
    On to Red Bull matters. The fight between Ricciardo and Verstappen was absolutely what the fans want and it was great! Ricciardo proved his point to Verstappen during those epic moments in the one way he truly understands and respects. I find it hard to believe their wasn’t some sort of agreement not to race each other after the VSC ended which is on one hand a relief (visions of Verstappen going to aggressive on an overtake attempt and taking DanyRic out loomed large) but also kind of a pity.
    Great race.

    1. “Hamilton has had so many technical problems this year that it does not seem like it’s been a fair fight”

      Is that really true? Better take a look at this: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2016/09/22/hamilton-cant-afford-another-late-season-slump/

      According to Keith’s – and rather biased! – analysis, Hamilton had four technical problems during this season. From that four, Russia and Belgium had little effect in terms of points, as he was able to recover to podium finishes at those events. Also, the engine stockpiling in Belgium – which is such an abuse of the current rules that even Mercedes was protesting against it earlier – gave Hamilton three fresh engines compared to Rosberg’s remaining one. The only real blows to Hamilton’s campaign were the engine problems in China and Malaysia (7th place and retirement respectively).
      His problems in Baku and Singapore had more to do with poor setup and driver faults.
      He also had some bad luck in Bahrein, when he got hit by Bottas, and he shares at least 50% of the responsibility for the Barcelona crash with Rosberg.
      All in all, he had 8 weekends with no clear races out of sixteen so far this season, only 4 of those affected with technical issues, and only two of those hit his points tally hard.

      In contrast with him, Rosberg had three races with technical issues: Russia, Canada, and Austira. Of that three, Russia obviously doesn’t count, as he was able to win there even with engine problems. In Canada, his puncture held him back to a certain degree, but even without that it’s doubtful if he would have made it onto the podium. (Although it was Hamilton and his understeer that forced Rosberg to fight in the thick of the field to begin with.) In Austira, his brake problems would have cost him the victory anyway, even without the needless collision with Hamilton, which was more of Rosberg’s fault, even if not totally all of his. Had it not been for the collision, he could have been 2nd, though, so the technical issue itself wasn’t that costly.
      Rosberg also had his fair share of bad luck: getting a penalty for a rule that has been lifted since then, the iphone-stopwatch misery in the pits in Germany, and getting harpooned by Vettel in Malaysia, from which he was able to recover to 3rd.
      He also had weak performances of his own fault in Monaco and GB.
      All in all, Rosberg had 7 weekends with no clear races out of sixteen so far this season, with only 3 of those affected with technical issues, and only one of those hit his points tally hard.

      Judging from this, I wouldn’t say that Hamilton has had so many technical problems this year that it does not seem like it’s been a fair fight. The Mercedes dous’ share of techincal problems, driver errors and fortunes are more or less balanced. The 23 points lead of Rosberg over Hamilton can’t be traced down to technical issues only.

    2. Arnoud van Houwelingen
      3rd October 2016, 17:02

      But still if it wasn’t his teammate Verstappen would have shut the door in turn 5 and that would be it .. now he just couldn’t risk it and he let room for Ricciardo. He just couldn’t afford the off chance of them bumping into each other. Smart move of him and at the moment he didn’t know that Hamilton would be out due to engine failure so he was in the assumption that he would have had another try to overtake Ricciardo with his fresher hard tires. Now they forced the outcome by pitting Ricciardo. Of course Verstappen had to pit also because of the VSC and that was the end of it.

  10. Sad for Hamilton. His 50th win is taking too long to come.

    But happy for Ricciardo, the best driver of the year, by far.
    The guy should have won Spain, Monaco, almost nailed it at Singapore and was there to take the win on Malaysia.

    I wonder is there is still a living soul that believes his win over Vettel was just a fluke.

    1. vettel had many technical problems and couldn’t really adapt to the new cars, also had some questionable strategies from the team. i think now it would be MUCH closer

    2. should have won spain…..whatever hahahaha he even blew his new set to pieces…but yeah…he should have won ;D

      1. yes, he should have, more to the point, WOULD HAVE – even with your sarcasm

  11. As others have said, when I heard his ”No no no” on the radio, I felt nothing but sympathy for the man. Those feelings of despair, helplessness and dire frustration were all too real.

    From a championship standpoint though, very very juicy! :)

    1. I felt no sympathy, I remember in seasons past where engine failures happened 4 to 5 times a season, not one in 3 seasons. I also takein the other drivers who sit in a low to midfield car for their whole career and never get a chance to win a GP. Hamilton has won 49 and will win again.

      1. Well, that’s life.

  12. Great race! I think though that there were no team orders at Red Bull. You could see it from the lap times and the onboard with Verstappen. Max was quicker but was wearing his tyres out. The rears were squirming all over the place when he got close to Ricciardo.
    Daniel was playing the longer game and protected his tyre life over the last stint. He had the kid in hand!

    1. ex_f1f_contributor
      3rd October 2016, 7:24

      I’m happy for Ricciardo and RBR that he won; he is a deserved GP winner this year.

      Notwithstanding that, I was surprised that RBR did not ask RIC to let VES past as he was faster, on fresher tyres, and a different strategy. But most of all, because RIC still owes one to VES after Germany.

      Then HAM retired and suddenly it was RBR 1-2.
      VES’s tyres being Hard thus he could have gone to the end (BOT did the same amount of laps on Mediums with more weight). That would have been a very interesting end to the GP; RIC chasing a tyre managing VES to the end (this time without RAI between them).
      But probably the strategists at RBR were too afraid of another second coming of deja vu all over again.

    2. I’m happy for Ricciardo and RBR that he won; he is a deserved GP winner this year.

      Notwithstanding that, I was surprised that RBR did not ask RIC to let VES past as he was faster, on fresher tyres, and a different strategy. But most of all, because RIC still owes one to VES after Germany.

      Then HAM retired and suddenly it was RBR 1-2.
      VES’s tyres being Hard thus he could have gone to the end (BOT did the same amount of laps on Mediums with more weight). That would have been a very interesting end to the GP; RIC chasing a tyre managing VES to the end (this time without RAI between them).
      But probably the strategists at RBR were too afraid of another second coming of deja vu all over again.

      1. Arnoud van Houwelingen
        3rd October 2016, 17:08

        yes but in a normal situation with a pitstop the gap will increase with 24 seconds but with a VSC the gap will only increase with 10 seconds. So with fresh softer tires Ricciardo would have easily closed the gap with Verstappen. That is the reason they chose to pit them both. In hindsight Max lost the race with his attack on Ricciardo when he was on the hard tire. If he would have overtaken Ricciardo at that moment he would have won the race. Max had just bad luck in the first corner otherwise the race would have turn out differently.

  13. This is the question that popped up in my mind when Hamilton retired:

    Can you imagine a F1 team always qualifying around the 107% mark (so way slower than the MRT’s and Saubers) and still capable of scoring points on several occasion and finishing 6th in the constructors cup?

    Strange question?

    Well a couple of weeks ago I was leafing through my 1987 copy of Autocourse. The above scenario is exactly what Tyrrell did that year. The 550 bhp Cosworth-powered Tyrrells were battling the 850 bhp turbo-teams (btw, what are Renault and Ferrari complaining about a few missing ponies?). If there had been an 107% rule, Tyrrell would’ve DNQ-ed quite a few times. However they compensated lack of power by better fuel efficiency and reliability. Those days more than half the field (including top drivers) would retire every race, and when they did, Tyrrell picked up the points, 11 in total on 5 occasions (remember, that means top 6, not top 10!).

    In today’s F1 world this scenario is wholly incomprehensible. A single mechanical DNF leads to 300+ replies on conspiracy theories, sabotage, team favouritism, driving style, while in the end something just broke.

    There has been a push towards longer-life components in F1, both in regulations and by the teams themselves. The Tyrrell was reliable by 1987 standards, today it would be average at best. In my opinion the fact that cars are now so reliable is one the main contributors to predictable race results, more so than limited development or tight regulations. Which leads to a second questions: if we want more unpredictable race results, should we push for less reliable cars?
    And third, if we do so, can F1 fans still accept a mechanical DNF, or will we get caught in endless discussions about ‘undeserving’ or ‘lucky’ race winners and champions, because another driver had to retire his car?

    1. Very interesting. On the other hand can you believe that 11 individual companies design cars with each their own driver that are so close to each other it has to be measured in tenths of seconds on numerous occasions between them.

      1. Yes, the field today is possibly the closest in history. That is directly correlated to the tight regulations. Still teams/drivers manage to finish predominantly in the same order. It is a slightly different topic though.

  14. Hamilton has fought back from bigger differences. If he wins every race this season he’s still champion regardless what Rosberg does. It’s still wide open, just slight advantage Rosberg.

    1. But never with so few races left to do it.

  15. “was not lessened by Hamilton’s vague insinuations about ‘someone or something’ not wanting him to win the championship”

    Oh come off it Keith. For starters that link doesn’t even include his quote. Secondly there was nothing vague about it, in fact in the same interview he clarified his comment straight away (not just ‘indicated’ as you put it, but flat out said it):

    ————-
    “There have been many decisive races but this is definitely one of those. Something or someone doesn’t want me to win this year but I won’t give up. I will keep pushing.”

    [after being asked to clarify on ‘someone’] “A higher power. It feels right now as if the man above or a higher power is intervening a little bit. But I feel I have been blessed with so many opportunities. So I have to be grateful for those. While this does not feel great, I have to remain grateful.”
    —————

    Thirdly it is a well used phrase. We were running late for the train home from Waterloo last week and the tube barrier wouldn’t accept my ticket. As I waited to be let through the manned barrier (god how I hate the tube) I said to my friend “I guess someone just doesn’t want us to get home today”. I was not implying that someone from Brackley had been out fiddling with the ticket barrier to ‘sabotage’ my journey.

    Lastly no mention of everything Hamilton said in support of his team and the mechanics on his side of the garage
    It is very disappointing to see such biased spin in articles on this site. Maybe Keith is trying to make the site more like the Daily Mail?

    I really liked Toto Wolff’s shut down of Simon Lazenby on Sky after the race.

    Simon: “So you are aware of the comments Hamilton has made to the media saying someone is trying to stop him from winning the championship”
    Toto: “You know exactly what he meant”

    1. Spot on commentary.

  16. I still feel as if Hamilton’s issues this year are not as problematic as the ones which arguably cost him a real shot at the title in 2012. Sure, it’s bad luck, but that’s racing. After lap one, it was Rosberg who had all the bad luck in that race.

    Meanwhile, it’s great to see Ricciardo win again, and his performances (he is on course to be my driver of the season) have not always reflected the results. He really deserved this one after what happened at Spain and Monaco. And once again, he was there to capitalise when Mercedes tripped up.

  17. “Back on a track where engine performance counts, the Toro Rossos struggled.”

    Last year Toro Rosso also struggled on powercircuits, having the mediocre Renault-engine. But they were quite competitive in Malaysia. Does engine performance really count in Malaysia? Then why isn’t Mercedes really dominant here?

  18. RIC saved by VSC!

  19. I would offer that poor starts have cost HAM more points than reliability this season. He is the defending champion, but this is now ROS’s WDC to lose.

    1. When you say poor starts, are you refering to those software managed starts?

      Driving by wire, is nothing like the old fashion clutch transmisions you might be use to. These days its all done in the software, and the various parameters which can be tweeked to determine how soon, or how smoothly the clutch engages with the rest of the transmision. These are ‘technical’ factors which goes beyond the scope of driver control. I sometimes wonder how many can appreciate the subtities of that simple summary – ‘poor starts’.

      In the blink of an eye Hamilton, the 3 times world champion, drops from pole to fifth place, and the best answer we can draw upon is – another ‘poor start’. Short of any knowledge to the contrary, it can only be taken that simply. Welcome to the future sports fan, where ‘entertainment’ comes first.

      As well as weighing the driver at the end of the race, with its old fashion idea of scrutiny and fair play, they should maybe take a snapshot of the car managment systems. Just saying.

  20. Lewis has not been on his game several times this year. Rosberg has been working his butt off to beat Lewis. And he did. Lewis is the better racer of the two, but Nico can out pace him on a good day and Lewis let him do that several times this season, because he didn’t seem to be focused or committed enough.
    That will cost him the title in the end.

    Now we also see that RBR is more reliable then Mercedes and that starts to pay off at the moment Mercedes can be challenged.

    I believe Ricciardo deserves a win for his performance this season. He has been outstanding. But this one was given to him to make up for Monaco. Max was clearly faster and could have challenged Lewis.

    Read James Allen’s piece.

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