Lewis Hamilton wins Malaysian Grand Prix
Teammate Nico Rosberg finishes second to extend title lead
World champion Sebastian Vettel finishes in third place
Minute's silence for those missing on disappeared flight MH370
Lewis Hamilton led a Mercedes one-two at the Malaysian Grand Prix Sunday then dedicated his victory to the families and presumed victims of missing flight MH370.
“I just feel so grateful, particularly after the tragedy three weeks ago and I would like to dedicate the win to the families,” said the Briton on the victory podium at Sepang.
The mystery surrounding the Malaysian Airlines flight cast a shadow over the race, with the circuit only a short drive from the international airport in Kuala Lumpur.
MALAYSIAN GP RESULT:
A minute’s silence, led by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, was observed before the start, while drivers wore helmet stickers reading “Pray for MH370”.
When the action started, Hamilton swiftly took advantage of pole position to win by 17 seconds from teammate Nico Rosberg, with reigning four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in a distant third for Red Bull.
Rosberg, who won the season-opener in Australia where a technical fault scuppered Hamilton’s chances, extended his lead in the title race with his solid drive, racing past Vettel from third on the grid.
“I got a great start today, ” said the German, who is the son of 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg. “I was trying to chase Lewis but he was just too quick for me today.”
While Vettel was satisfied with his third place, his teammate Daniel Ricciardo suffered a sorry race with a series of technical problems forcing him to retire.
It continued the misfortune for Australian Ricciardo, who took second in his home grand prix in Melbourne, but was subsequently disqualified for breaking regulations regarding fuel use.
It left two-time world champion Fernando Alonso in fourth for Ferrari ahead of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, with Jenson Button sixth in his McLaren.
Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were seventh and eighth while Button’s teammate Kevin Magnussen and Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat completed the points scoring.
Only 15 drivers were classified as the teams continue to get to grips with the new cars in Formula One, which use 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units.
Mercedes has been consistently quickest in pre-season testing and the opening two races of the season and will be looking to take further advantage at next week’s Bahrain round.
Rosberg leads Hamilton by 18 points in the standings, with Alonso a point further back.
Vettel, who was forced to retire in Australia, claimed his first points of the season in Malaysia, but knows his former all-conquering team are playing catch up.
“At the end I was just trying to get the car home. There’s still a long way to go – the Mercedes cars are quick,” he admitted.
2008 champion, Hamilton, who was ending an eight-month victory drought, had served notice of his superiority by pipping Vettel to pole in Saturday’s rain-hit qualifying session.
Forecasts that Sunday’s race would be affected by poor weather proved wide of the mark, with only a few spots of rain falling in the latter stages of the 56 laps.