Malaysia GP – THE POINT… by Gian Carlo Minardi

Second race of the season, second seal marked by Mercedes. After Rosberg, this was Hamilton’s turn to climb up the podium, getting on the top step. The result speaks for itself: a neat supremacy in all possible conditions. From free practice to the race, from dry to wet road. They are doing very well in scoring as many points as they can, in oder to manage them in a World Championship perspective. Seven Mercedes engines in the first ten positions: this is an outstanding achievement.

Ferrari’s performance slightly improved, with a gap of 35’’ from the winner, though 10’’ slower than Red Bull: Maranello has still a lot of work to do. Bad luck for Kimi: without the collision with Magnussen, he could have scored important points for the World Championship chart. Once again, Fernando was capable to get the maximum out of his Ferrari, performing very similar laps in all conditions: but F14-T is still in need of an important evolution, in order to step on the podium or fight for the first place.

Red Bull shows to be the car with the best chassis: this is particularly clear in corners, even though suffering the problems related to the Renault power-unit. They are certainly on the right path, but the gap with Mercedes – whose hidden resources are remarkable – is still wide. For the French motorist, it won’t be easy to solve his problems, but Red Bull could be advantaged on those tracks where the engine is less important. If we look back at pre-seasonal tests, they have achieved considerable improvements both in terms of performance and reliability, even though they now have to figure out what happened on Ricciardo’s car. Once more, all the misfortunes are hitting Red Bull-2.

Nico Hulkenberg proves himself to be a top team driver, even though Force India is showing a very good performance,  trying to achieve the fifth place in the World Championship: that’s an excellent result, obtained driving very well and with one less pit-stop. As it already happened in the last season, they have a car which is very “gentle” with Pirelli tyres: this is a further technical solution and a strength point. Good result also for Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso’s rookie, who scored one point. At present, it’s not simple to be in the first ten places with seven Mercedes engines at finish, considering that Kvyat’s engine is a Renault too.

In Malaysia, the new penalty of 5’’ has come into play: it was imposed by FIA representatives on Kevin Magnussen, after the collision with Kimi Raikkonen. I personally find this sanction too heavy, since in my opinion it was a normal race collision. This could become a problem as we proceed with the World Championship’s races, because it represents a too subjective decision. Today FIA representatives have decided it was an action to be penalized, but what will happen with another “board of judges”? I observed with great attention the execution of pit-stops with penalties and I noted that McLaren mechanics did very well and quickly. His previous pit-stops had been around 24’’7’-25’’5’, whereas, when the penalty was assigned, Kevin left the pit-lane in 30’’. This penalty has concealed the true value on this track of MP4-29, which did not experience a positive grand prix. Nonetheless, the two drivers have been able to bring home points.

We need to underline the weird team indications of Williams. I don’t believe Bottas had the strength to create problems to Button: I don’t see the point of creating tensions in the team at the second weekend of races. I can foresee a polemic debate coming up, even though Massa took the right decision, choosing to keep its place and not to be overtaken by his team-mate.

In seven days it will be time for Bahrain and we’ll see what happens, though we’ll hardy see a change of the situation already in place.