It was obvious Ferrari were in good shape going into the Malaysian Grand Prix; indeed, even world champion Lewis Hamilton commented on the Italian giants’ pace in practice late last week, but few people were expecting Sebastian Vettel to win only his second race with his new employers.
By contrast, it took his boyhood hero Michael Schumacher seven races to win with Ferrari after moving over from Benetton in 1996, and he went on to secure five drivers’ championships in Scuderia red, so the world will once again feel like Vettel’s oyster this morning.
However, the best campaign-long bet based on events in Southeast Asia may be the top price 8/1 with Ladbrokes about Ferrari taking the constructors’ championship for the first time since 2008, and not the 4/1 offered on Vettel claiming his fifth drivers’ crown.
The richest team in Formula One will surely pump plenty of extra cash into their car if they believe they have a shot at capturing silverware at the end of the season, and with both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen proving consistent over the course of three days in Sepang, the mix looks sound.
Raikkonen split the Mercedes of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in final practice on Friday, as his teammate did in Saturday’s qualifying, and despite starting Sunday’s race 11th on the grid, the flying Finn made it all the way up to fourth, claiming 12 precious championship points in the process.
It’s clear that all is not quite as it should be in the Mercedes camp, as Hamilton criticised the garage’s lack of speed during his first pit stop, which left the Brit 22 seconds behind Vettel at the halfway point of the race, while Rosberg bemoaned not being told his teammate had switched tyres.
The Silver Arrows’ bump back down to earth may not suit favourite backers, but it has breathed life into F1 after the staid spectacle in Australia last week, when Hamilton and Rosberg were over 30 seconds clear of the field in first and second.
Team directors Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe will at least be happy their men clocked the fastest lap times in Malaysia, but they’ll also know they finally have a fight on their hands with Ferrari.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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