Paddock Cat from a Race with Many Talking Points in Steamy Sepang

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"Multi 21" was on most people's lips after the Malaysian Grand Prix. It wasn't a reference to a new vitamin supplement; it was Red Bull's intra-team code demanding its drivers stay in position - an order that race winner Sebastian Vettel chose to ignore. The controversy will give pundits plenty to talk about over the coming weeks.

Down at Mercedes AMG Petronas, similar orders came from the pitwall. This time, however, they were adhered to, with Lewis Hamilton coming home third, 0.4s ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg. The latter asked on several occasions to overtake Hamilton, but his request was denied by team principal Ross Brawn.

“Our cars were under no threat from behind,” said Brawn after the race. “This was an important result for the team and I didn’t want to risk the cars. I know Nico is disappointed, but I’d be disappointed if that wasn’t the case. He’s a racing driver.”

The 27 points earned by Mercedes AMG Petronas during the Malaysian Grand prix moves the team into fourth place in the constructors’ championship, just three points shy of Ferrari and Lotus tied in second position. It was a great team result.

A rain shower 30 minutes before the start of the 56-lap race ensured that all the cars left the grid on intermediate tyres. And there was drama in the slippery conditions almost immediately for Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari star made a brilliant start from third on the grid to be alongside pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel through Turn 1. Neither of them gave an inch and they made the slightest of contact, damaging Fernando’s front wing.

Even with the loss of front downforce, Alonso was able to maintain a pace similar to those around him and the Ferrari pitwall decided to keep him out for an extra lap in the hope of changing him onto slick tyres while making the nose change. But the team never got a chance to carry out its strategy because the front wing came off on lap two and got stuck under the front wheels of Fernando’s F138, forcing him into retirement.

“It’s disappointing because we had a very good car today,” said Fernando. “If I hadn’t had that contact, I think I could have won the race.”

Such was the oppressive heat at Sepang that the track dried quickly. Vettel was the first driver to switch from intermediate to slick tyres, on lap five, and the remainder of the field quickly followed suit. What followed was a high-speed car chase with drama up and down the field, at the end of which the drivers looked exhausted.

“Typically, the drivers sweat about four litres of fluid during this race,” said Rosberg’s physio Daniel Schlosser. “That means they have to take on a lot of fluid before the start, which involves them drinking about nine litres of fluid per day during the days leading up to the race.”

Given that doctors advise drinking two litres of fluid per day to ensure healthy living, that’s a lot of extra water (and involves many trips to the bathroom for the drivers!). Such are the demands of racing in equatorial Asia.

After 1hr38mins of racing, the top 10 in the Malaysian GP looked like this: 1) Vettel, 2) Webber, 3) Hamilton, 4) Rosberg, 5) Massa, 6) Grojean, 7) Raikkonen, 8) Hulkenberg, 9) Perez, 10) Vergne. Good work everyone.

Next up on the Formula One World Championship is the Chinese Grand Prix on April 14. Don’t miss the action from Shanghai!