Disclaimer: The views expressed in Fat Hippo’s Rants are those of the contributor and not those held by TJ13.
Who woulda thunk it? I always assumed that when Vettel scores his first win with Ferrari, I’d be sitting at home, drinking beer, and think about starting Christmas preparations. The reason for that is of course silver and goes by the name of Mercedes-Benz.
Lo and behold. Instead I was sitting in a rather basic Hotel in London’s Argyle Street, drinking beer. “Beer that early in the morning?” I hear you ask, and my answer is yes. I was to board a Eurostar to Brussels a couple of hours later and I still had two bottles of that Belgian bile left that apparently passes for Lager in Blighty. I would have probably been arrested returning to Frankfurt carrying that stuff – so it had to be drunk.
As my natural inclination is towards the cynical, this means I’m fairly disinclined to take things at face value. My theory: Merc stage managed a surprise win in Malaysia 2015. Here are the pros and cons.
Everybody wins. Mercedes have all those frustrated critics off their back, who said they were killing the season before it really began. It’s hard to call for Mercedes to be pegged back, when they are beaten as early as the second race.
Bernard wins too. I would hazard a guess that viewer numbers in Germany and Italy will temporarily climb again, until people realize it was a one-off.
Pirelli win too, as it were their tyres, which played a vital part in this race while not being as ridiculous as the early 2013 construction.
“But Mercedes can’t afford to give away points!” I hear you cry. “Yes they can,” is my answer. Remember Spa in 2014? They lost way more points then than possible in Sepang.
Calling Lewis and Nico into the pits after just four laps was a monumental strategic mistake when compared with Ferrari’s decision to leave Vettel out. Further, if the Pirelli era has taught us one thing, it is that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Any other team would have split the strategy. Leave one man out, in case Ferrari doesn’t pit and bring the other one in. But that’s not what they did, and it is hard to find a good reason why.
This cost Rosberg big time as he had to wait for tyres and then was held to avoid an unsafe release.
However, Merecedes most inexplicable decision of the weekend was to to use medium tyres on Saturday in Q1. With the car advantage they have combined with the fact the medium tyre had been predicted to be the better race tyre since FP2, to use up an extra set of mediums on Saturday looks like deliberate stupidity. So after other teams used only the prime tyre in Q1 it was inevitable each Mercedes driver would be short of a set of option tyres for the race.
On the contra side, we have the indications that Lewis Hamilton was in panic mode in the closing stages of the race. The boy from Stevenage, who learned the trade on the same track that was infested with TJ13 crew members and readers last Saturday, was definitely not a happy camper.
Would Merc really cynically stage manage to lose the race without telling their drivers about it?
Renault fixed a race once in Singapore without telling their lead driver Fernando Alonso – allegedly. Though Felipe Massa questioned this claim directly in 2014.
Mercedes have traditionally struggled to make the tyres last, while Ferrari has been quite kind to theirs throughout the Pirelli era. That’s now even more likely since the Ferrari SF15-T is the brain child of James Allison, who penned the designs of several tyre-whispering Lotii. Therefore, is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to conceive that Ferrari won the 2015 Malaysia GP because of the superior strategy and the lower tyre degradation?
Time will tell whether this was a staged managed race trick by Mercedes – as they were accused of in Monza 2014, where Nico apparently used the polystyrene bollards in the run off area at turn one repeatedly to practice his weaving skills for his impending AA Advanced driver road license test.
It could be Mercedes were just genuinely beaten for the first time under the new engine rules.
Have your say. The comment section is all yours.