Red Rag to a Bull: Vettel and Webber Dominate Malaysia

James RossiCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2017

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel finally laid his reliability ghosts to rest on Sunday morning as he romped to victory ahead of team mate Mark Webber in Malaysia. In truth, the two Adrian Newey designed cars had little to worry about, such was their expected and evident pace in the unexpectedly dry conditions. Webber will feel aggrieved that he allowed Vettel through at the first corner, inexplicably opening the door for the German to take the inside line and the consequent momentum into turn 2. 

The Red Bulls looked serene from start to finish, with no noticeable tyre degradation troubles even in the heat of Malaysia and the green state of the track after the previous days downpour. The only moment that must have had Red Bull fans hearts in their mouths came on the final lap, when a slowing Lotus kept to the racing line to allow Vettel through, the German seemingly struggling to find a gear on the exit of Turn 4. 

Nico Rosberg drove solidly if not spectacularly to consolidate a well-earned podium place, and Robert Kubica once again drove superbly to hassle the German before dropping away in the latter stages of the race. 

Much of the entertainment was provided by the Ferrari and Mclaren drivers fighting their way through the field after their qualifying woes. Lewis Hamilton started on the harder tyre, despite the softer option tyre being proven to be marginally faster. He scythed past 8 cars on the run down to the first corner before ending the first lap in 11th position. The pace of Hamilton was in contrast with his team mate and Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard suffered from a gear selection problem all race along and must be commended for keeping pace with his peers and even hassling Button until his continued pushing of the Briton took its toll on his engine, expiring on the final lap after a late lunge down the inside of the first turn.

Lewis Hamilton's pace must bode well for the following races, as he proved that he could run on the pace of the Red Bulls for periods of the race. His switch to the soft tyre after his one and only pitstop bore fruit with a string of hot laps until he caught up with Adrian Sutil, who drove a combative race to keep the Mclaren driver behind him. Had Hamilton got past the German earlier, he could have had a run at Rosberg's 3rd place. 

Special mention must also go to Vitaly Petrov and Lucas di Grassi. The Russian rookie drove like a veteran whilst fighting with Hamilton. The threat posed by Petrov was evident by Hamilton's on-the-edge attempts at breaking his tow, weaving left and right numerous times down the front straight. Lucas di Grassi also managed to bag Virgin/Manor Racing's first F1 finish, albeit in 14th place and 2 laps down. Coupled with another finish for the Lotus team, things can only get better for the F1 newcomers.

An ominous win for the Red Bull team. The drivers championship now has 8 points covering the top 6 drivers, a tantalising thought given that we still have 16 races remaining. However, such was the relative ease with which Vettel and Webber strode away from the pack, everybody else (including fans) must be figuring out how to stop the Rampant Red Bulls. Roll on Shanghai in 2 weeks time.