Wow, what a Grand Prix we saw on the weekend. The Malaysian GP was definitely the most pivotal of the year. It was a see-saw emotional rollercoaster for our two championship protagonists- Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
When Rosberg actually got spun round on the first corner by Sebastian Vettel I actually screamed “that’s the title right there!” at the monitor in the Fox Sports studio. He was so lucky to be able to continue because it was quite a whack he received from Vettel’s Ferrari. Fortunately his car was undamaged and while all the way back in 17th position, Rosberg was able to continue.
Back at the front of the pack Hamilton must have been smiling as he controlled the pace in front of Danial Ricciardo. It’s one of the cruelest aspects of the sport that although Hamilton dominated this weekend and should have won a well deserved race – it was not to be. On lap 41 with no warning at all, his luck turned and his engine blew up in a dramatic fashion. With flames spitting from the back of his Mercedes he parked his car on the outside of turn one. And that was that, no Malaysian GP win and no championship lead.
Suddenly the shoe was on the other foot and Rosberg who had driven fantastically back up to third was suddenly in prime position to benefit from Hamilton’s misfortune. Rosberg certainly rode his luck this race, not only in that first lap contact but also later in the race when he clashed with Raikkonen while fighting for what would be third place. It was a risky move and Rosberg could have easily been out of the race there and then. However he made the move stick and was able to continue. Fortune was with him and it’s moments like this on which championships are decided.
Ricciardo and Verstappen of Red Bull eventually won the race. It was Red Bull’s first win since 2013 and it was refreshing to see such a different podium. The joy for both of them was very apparent and Ricciardo managed to actually get everyone to join in to drink champagne from his shoe. A genuine, lovely moment from a lovely guy and you certainly got the feeling that it was justice for him after losing out on certain wins in Spain and Monaco.
While we watched the celebrations in the studio, my Son Alister asked me why Ricciardo wore kneepads. I was quite surprised at the question because I thought everyone knew. I suddenly realised that it might not be apparent to everyone and so I’ve decided to write down what I told him then. The legs of a F1 driver move around quite a lot due to the high G forces and you need padding in the cockpit to keep your knees and feet in place. You can imagine the difficulty in trying to press the throttle while resisting four to five G with your hips.
With the Malaysian GP out of the way, it’s off to Japan this week. Lewis Hamilton has just a couple of days to get over his bad luck and to focus on the remaining races. There are five rounds to go and though he trails his German teammate by 23 points, there are still plenty of points to play for. He can still win this championship, but it’s important he clears his mind and focuses on that. He is a triple world champion and if anyone can do it, he certainly can.