Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari sent shockwaves around the paddock as they stormed to victory by beating the Mercedes duo at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton got off to a strong start from pole, whilst Vettel managed to recover from a slow getaway by outbraking a sheepish looking Nico Rosberg.
Virtually all the cars made it through the opening few corners without incident but Kimi Raikkonen who started from 11th after being caught out by the rain in qualifying picked up a puncture when Sauber’s Felipe Nasr tapped the back of the Ferrari at the final corner, forcing the Finn to complete a full lap with a puncture until he returned to the pits.
The safety car was brought out on lap 4 when Marcus Ericsson attempted to get past Nico Hulkenberg at turn one, but went wide and slipped into the gravel trap, beaching the Sauber.
Vettel who had been on the tail of Hamilton opted to stay out on track whilst many drivers darted into the pits whilst the safety car was out. After the race was restarted Vettel eventually pitted and re-emerged back behind Hamilton and Rosberg after temporarily leading the race.
Vettel who had been fitted with a set of the faster medium tyres quickly caught the Mercedes pair who were both on the slower hard tyres. The four times world champion overtook both of the Silver Arrows but it was evident that the Ferrari had genuine pace against Mercedes.
Mercedes continued to believe they could win until Hamilton made his final stop on lap 38, one after Vettel.
The world champion rejoined 14 seconds behind and, although he was slightly faster than the Ferrari, he was unable to close at anything like the required rate, Vettel holding him at a distance of about 10 seconds.
Hamilton was heard on the radio questioning the tyre choices of the team, but in the end there was nothing that he or Rosberg could do to stop Vettel and Ferrari.
Vettel’s victory was the 40th of his career – only one short of Ayrton Senna, who is third in the all-time list – and the first time Mercedes had been beaten since last July’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
And it marks an amazing turnaround by Ferrari, who last year had their worst season for 21 years, managing only two podiums. The pace of the Italian car was further outlined by the fact that Kimi Raikkonen started from 11th, suffered a puncture on lap one and still managed to finish in 4th place.
The next three teams finished two-by-two as Williams took 5th and 6th place after a last lap dice between Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa put the Finn on top.
Toro Rosso achieved their best race result in terms of points since the 2008 Italian Grand Prix when Sebastian Vettel won the race for them. Max Verstappen managed to get his first points and in the process became the youngest ever points scorer in F1 history. Teammate Sainz finished just behind in 8th place.
Rather embarrasingly Red Bull could only manage 9th and 10th whilst their sister team took greater spoils. Both Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo suffered from brake issues and Kvyat survived a collision with Nico Hulkenberg to beat his Australian teammate.
Both McLaren’s retired due to technical issues, whilst Will Stevens once again failed to even start the race due to issues with his Manor-Marussia. However it was an impressive as Roberto Merhi managed to complete the whole race which will b a big boost to the Manor team.