Hamilton left fuming after engine blow up in Malaysia robs him of victoryPOSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 03 October 2016
REIGNING Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton may have seen his hopes of retaining his title go up in smoke just like his Mercedes engine did at yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Briton dominated the race until flames started pouring from his Mercedes on lap 43, prompting him to say on the radio: “Oh, no, no.”
German Nico Rosberg finished third to extend his lead in the championship to 23 points over Petronas Mercedes AMG teammate Hamilton with five races to go, and 125 points available.
Red Bull got their first one-two finish since 2008 with Daniel Ricciardo leading teenaged teammate Max Verstappen home.
After the race, Hamilton told BBC Radio 5 live’s Tom Clarkson: “My question is to Mercedes. We have so many engines made, but mine are the only ones failing this year.
“Someone needs to give me some answers because this is not acceptable. We are fighting for the championship and only my engines are failing. It does not sit right with me.”
Hamilton was cruising to victory after converting pole into a lead at the first corner, and the day seemed to be going his way when Rosberg was hit by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel as a move to try to pass Verstappen down the inside went wrong at the first corner.
Vettel was given a three-place grid penalty for next weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix after he was adjudged to have caused the crash.
Rosberg rejoined at the back and set about climbing back through the field as Hamilton appeared to be set fair to reclaim the championship lead.
Rosberg drove well to get back up to fourth place, and then snatched third from Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari in a late move at Turn Two on lap 38.
The two cars collided, and stewards decided Rosberg should be penalised with a 10-second time penalty. But he managed to extend his lead sufficiently to ensure he took the final podium place.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff held his head in his hands in the pits as Hamilton walked disconsolately away from his smouldering car. Mercedes said there had been no warning of the problem.
Verstappen had been on Ricciardo’s tail and asking his team to “do something”, and the Australian had already fended off an attack by his team-mate as they ran side by side from Turns Four to Eight.
But when Hamilton’s engine failed, that triggered a virtual safety car and the team to bring in both cars for fresh tyres.
This was Ricciardo’s first win in Malaysia and fourth in total.
Ricciardo went into the last 13 laps of the the race with a 2.3-second lead. Ricciardo was on new tyres, while Verstappen’s were three laps old and that may have given the Australian the edge he needed to hold off his team-mate, who appeared to have a slight pace advantage this weekend.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said there had been no team orders: “It made total sense, after Lewis had blown up, there was a free stop for both of them – give them both fresh tyres and then flat-out to the finish.”
For Ricciardo, today’s victory went a little way towards making up for team mistakes that cost two victories earlier this season with a strategy call in Spain and a pit error in Monaco.
“I’m exhausted,” Ricciardo said. “I am not one for believing in a whole lot, but it went the other way in Monaco so I’ll take this, no hard feelings to Lewis. It has been pretty emotional two years since the last win and we have come so close this year, two weeks ago I said we’d win one and here we go.”
The next round is in Japan in two weeks.