Earlier this week we asked you to vote for your favourite Malaysian Grands Prix. The results are in and it’s time to see what’s in your top 5!
5. 2013 – Multi 21!
Yes, it’s that race. On the face of it things don’t look that interesting – Sebastian Vettel won from pole, with Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton completing the podium, and Fernando Alonso went out on the first lap after making contact with Vettel. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Vettel lost several positions when he stopped for slick tyres too early, handing the lead to Webber. As the race progressed Vettel had mad his way back up to second, and after the final stops Red Bull issued the now-famous order – Multi 21 – to hold station until the end, with Webber winning and Vettel second. Vettel was having none of it – he’d felt aggrieved when Mark had ignored team orders in the past, and continued to challenge him for the lead, even after Christian Horner came on the radio: “This is silly, Seb, come on.”
It was a terrific scrap, Vettel eventually came out on top and carried on to snatch the victory. There were some glum faces on the podium afterwards, but it all made for wonderful drama.
4. 2015 – Vettel’s Maiden Ferrari Triumph
The most recent race at Sepang makes it into your top five, and with good reason too. After a year of total dominance by Mercedes, F1 fans were ready to see someone else winning, and it didn’t take too long for it to happen.
After splitting the Mercedes in qualifying to get on the front row, Vettel maintained his position at the start to run second. When a safety car was deployed to clear the spun Sauber of Marcus Ericsson both Mercedes opted to pit, but Vettel stayed out. He pulled out a lead and was able to get to the end of the race with one fewer pit stop than the Mercedes, his Ferrari proving easier on its tyres in the hot conditions and allowing the four-time champion to take an emotional first victory for Ferrari.
Further back Max Verstappen became the youngest points scorer in history by finishing 7th, while both McLarens proved how effective their new Honda engines were by retiring. Vettel’s win gave everyone hope that he could challenge Mercedes throughout the year, but it was something of a false dawn – though he won two more races that year, Mercedes romped to both titles. Again.
3. 2009 – Half the Race, Twice the Action
Into the top 3 and it’s a very worthy addition, because 2009 was a classic – even if it was abandoned at half distance.
It was the second race of what would become the fairy tale season for Brawn and Jenson Button. Button and Jarno Trulli had qualified on the front row but it was Nico Rosberg who led the early stages for Williams. Button took the lead after the first stops and then, on lap 22, the heavens opened.
Timo Glock had made all the right calls to get up to second, while Button used the lead he’d built up to allow him some margin for error. Whilst the rain wasn’t too bad at first, it eventually got so heavy that the safety car was deployed and the race stopped. By the time the rain eased off it had started to get dark, so a result was declared and half-points awarded. Button had won his second race of the season, while Glock had been demoted to 3rd on countback behind Nick Heidfeld.
2. 2001 – Jos the Boss Shines
At the start of this race it looked like being your typical early-2000s Michael Schumacher domination as he cleared off into the lead and Rubens Barrichello slipped back whilst David Coulthard had made a good start – but that was nothing compared to Jos Verstappen, who had gone from 18th to 6th.
On lap 3 rain started to fall and both Ferrari’s went off at turn 3, dropping them both down the order. This put Trulli’s Jordan in the lead, but when he and several others span off too the safety car was forced to come out. When it came back in the Ferrari’s began to scythe through the pack whilst Verstappen, who had run as high as second, began to slip back.
In the end Schumacher won by 23 seconds with Barrichello in 2nd and Coulthard in 3rd. Verstappen eventully finished just outside the points in 7th after a battling drive in his underpowered Arrows.
1. 2012 – Perez on the Podium
It just had to be didn’t it? 2012 was your favourite by a landslide, and what a cracking race it was.
The race started wet and by lap 9 had got so bad that the race had to be stopped. Unlike in 2009 however it was able to restart, and after a few laps behind the safety car the majority of the field stopped to put intermediate tyres on almost immediately (where have we heard that before?)
Fernando Alonso emerged in the lead with Sergio Perez in second. While the track was wet Alonso was able to maintain a fairly comfortable lead, but once it began to dry Perez remarkable started to carve chunks out of the gap. Once the drivers stopped for slicks Alonso had edged the gap back out but once again Perez started to catch up.
He got the gap down to well under a second and it looked as though a first win for both Sauber and Perez was on the cards, but six laps from the end an off at turn 14 ended his chances. He still finished 2nd, just 2.2 seconds away from the winner, whilst Hamilton completed the podium in 3rd. It was a stunning drive from not only Perez but Alonso too, as the Ferrari F2012 was way off the pace in the early races and wins had looked out of the question.
Further back one of the greatest rivalries in F1 was started when the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan gave Vettel a puncture. Vettel gave Karthikeyan the harshest of all insults when he called him a cucumber; Karthikeyan hit back by calling Vettel a cry-baby. Strong words indeed.