Was Verstappen robbed of the win by Red Bull?

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Brought to you by TJ13 contributor @F1TheaJ 

Rate the Race and Driver of the Weekend – Sepang Circuit, Malaysia
Mean Reader score: 7.82

This race did not score as highly as 2015 (8.25) but was way higher than 2014 (5.36). In 2015, Vettel brought home Ferrari’s first win of the season and it really did look as if Ferrari might have taken the challenge to Mercedes (which indeed they did, to a certain extent, certainly for the most part of the season.) The 2014 race, however, seemed a very dull processional race which was reflected by the poor rating by our esteemed readers. What would 2016 have in store?

After a tumultuous start this GP developed into a race of two halves. There was drama on the formation lap as Massa was pushed to one side because his throttle wasn’t working and he had to start from the pit lane. Once the remaining drivers were in position, it looked as if there had been some kind of electrical failure as the start lights didn’t come on for ages. When the race eventually started there was a collision onto T1 as Rosberg and Vettel came together. Vetel definitely came off worse, retiring from the race and picking up a three place grid penalty for Japan and two penalty points on his license to boot.

Could Vettel’s season get any worse? Oh yes: the sound of Verstappen’s dulcet tones declaring ‘Vettel is crazy’ probably rubbed rather more salt than was necessary into the gaping wound that has been Vettel’s less than perfect season so far. Rosberg didn’t come off too well either as he was sent into a spin and the only reason he wasn’t in last place was because Massa hadn’t actually left the pit lane yet, so technically Rosberg was in was in P21. Oh dear, a penny for the thoughts of Rosberg: was he waving goodbye to his lead in the Driver Standings or could there possibly have been any other thought foremost in his mind at this stage? Verstappen was also in the Rosberg/Vettel mix, having to take evasive action in order to avoid flying debris.

The first VSC was then deployed, but not for long: by Lap 3 everything was tickety boo once more.

Another one lap VSC on L9 due to Grosjean’s brake failure pretty much summed up the remaining points of note as the ‘race’ settled down. Rosberg cut a swathe through the rear of the field as he made his way back into the points.
Not a lot happened for the next 20+laps and it looked as if we were in for a 2014- type race. Suddenly the race burst into life as on Lap 39 a great battle between Ricciardo and Verstappen began in a scrap for second place. As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one race, Hamilton’s engine then got in on the bursting action and his 21+ second lead and probably free pit stop and therefore dead cert win and his position at the top of the Driver Standings all went up in flames. Hamilton got out of his burning car, got down on his knees and prayed. The race for P1 was now on. Which of the Red Bulls would see the chequered flag first?

Driver of the weekend: Max Verstappen, 29.43% of reader vote.

It was a pretty close run between Max and Daniel Ricciardo (25.32%) for our Driver of the Weekend, and unlike the race it was Verstappen who came out on top. There was plenty of excitement in the second half of the race as Verstappen chased down, caught and went wheel to wheel with Ricciardo over several laps. It was reminiscent of the spat between Vettel and Webber in the infamous ‘multi 21’ scenario from Malaysia 2013. Although they may have needed a different message as ‘multi 333’ could have been a little unclear as to which car the team expected to cross the line first.

However, team orders were not actually issued, as with Hamilton’s car on fire the race was yellow flagged and Red Bull decided to take advantage of it by bringing both drivers into the pits for fresh tyres. Prior to this, Verstappen may have had the advantage over Ricciardo as his tyres were some 5 laps newer BUT he wasn’t able to get past his rival. Does that mean he wouldn’t have been able to on any of the remaining laps? Being slightly behind Ricciardo, Verstappen had to wait patiently as his team mate received new tyres and then sped off into the distance as Verstappen’s car was then serviced. Verstappen then re-joined the race a few seconds behind Ricciardo, effectively giving Ricciardo a head start which Verstappen never managed to recapture.

So, did Red Bull indirectly issue team orders via strategy? Was Max robbed of possibly his second win of the season by being brought in to pit behind Ricciardo? Was Ricciardo ‘gifted’ this win (to make up for the bungling in Monaco and the strategy change in Spain?) Please let us know what you think in the comments, below.

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30 responses to “Was Verstappen robbed of the win by Red Bull?

  1. I don’t think so just bad luck with the virtual safety car for Lewis because after that he had to chase hies teammate with 3 laps old quali tires instead off the 6 lap tire advantage on the hard tire.

  2. Robbed is a bit strong..but it was Ricciardo’s lucky day for sure..After a not so good start he was P5 before turn one and was gifted P2 without any effort from his side. Late in the race Max was virtualy in P1 and came up to Ric while Ric still needed a pistop and Max did not. Normally RB would let Max pass since he was still in front of Hamilton who needed to stop and did not have the gap he needed While Ric was P3 at 20-25 seconds behind Max. But Ric fought and the first attempt Max did not pass Ric because he backed out into turn 7, the risk was to high and he would pass him easily the next lap and than BAM.. at the perfect moment for Ric he was promoted from “3rd place at best” to “unchallenged 1st”
    If only Ham’s car would have blown 1 lap later than Max would have won, if only Red Bull would have let Max continue according to plan than we would have seen Ric chasing and perhaps deserving his win..but now it is clear that the team secured a 1-2 by pitting them both and Max really did not stand a fighting change being ordered “you can race but bring home the 1-2” and on older tyres.. Ric was compensated for Monaco by the team and had a very very lucky day.

    • Spot on, Jaap. Hence, Riciardo’s smiley face into the camera stating that luck has swung his way. Robbed 100%.

  3. I think so, especially if you take the words of Dr. Helmut Marko in consideration:
    http://www.formula1.com/en/latest/interviews/2016/10/helmut-marko-red-bull-hamilton-malaysia-engine-failure.html

    Q: Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure played to your advantage…

    HM: …my guess is that we very likely forced him into that engine failure! We permanently put pressure on him, challenging his lead, as he knew he had to create a gap – and to go permanently full throttle was probably not the best thing for his engine. But even without him retiring we had some things up our sleeves – I will not say what – just that with both cars on different strategies we would have challenged him anyway towards the end of the race.

    • I agree with you, gifted wins? robbed wins?, neh, I like to think that this is F1, or am I naive?

      I am a bit surprised that it got so close with Ricciardo being driver of the day. Within 20 seconds after the start he saw 3 competitors in front of him going AWOL with a P2 as result. Hamilton blew his engine which leaves the defence with Verstappen as his only accomplishment.
      It somewat amazes me that based on that defence he nearly snatched Driver of the day, are Verstappen’s manouvres rated that high that countering it deserves a DotD?

      • I get the feeling Ricciardo is more praised for his off-track actions than what he does on-track.

      • Bedankt voor de verduidelijking – ik remeber dat de volgende keer = #TeamNL go oranje #max33isthebest

      • Shit Cav,
        I thought dat jij een Nederlander bent. But are you an ex dutchman? Or you just takin’ the piss at us with Google translate?

  4. Yes he probably was. But since it was the other way round in Spain it’s 1-1. But unlike Spain it wasn’t deliberate. Hamiltons merc saying boom was a lucky event (for red bull) and they made the best of it (for danny).

    • Still about Spain? They react on Vettel who was charging Ves and Ric. With Ric in front it was pure logic they followed Vettel with Ric and not Ves. And they gave Ric something back for Spain and Monaco. But Ves also let Ric pass in Germany without a fight, because Ric was on fresher tyres and faster. Ric didn’t hand that gift back in Malaysia, and Ham was still in front. If so Ves would have won. But with Ham out of the picture it was a good moment to hand Ric the victory they took from him in Monaco. Spain he wasn’t robbed of a victory in the first place!

  5. Without reading the article:
    – yes, but it kept them a 1 and 2 just like Barcelona
    – no, he should’ve made his overtake stick
    – maybe, but the VSC spoiled it

    So, now I’m gonna read the article.
    (No offense AJ, I’m gratefull for all content in here)

  6. Yes, 3 times!
    1st. Half race Max caught up with Riccardo and was much faster but Riccardo din’t let him by as Max dit in Germany.
    2th. Why did Max had to come in? His tyres were o.k.
    3th. Max had to wait for Riccardo te leave in the pits that did kost him 4 sec.
    Who needs team orders?

  7. Why didn’t Ricciardo get the free stop ahead of Verstappen during the first virtual safety car period, given he had track position ?
    Far as I can see,that’s the only reason Verstappen was in contention…

    • They were both in contention until the second VSC if you ask me. What really killed the battle was the double pit stop … from thereon it was rather boring.

      • I don’t disagree, but to say that Verstappen was ‘robbed’, after he had been massively favoured by the first pit call, is ridiculous.

        • From that perspective I would agree with you. There was absolutely no need for the double pit stop. Believe it was only a matter of time until Max would have overtaken Riciardo. He was told to play it nicely … and he did … happy days for the Aussies.

    • Verstappen was faster than ric yet he was behind him after the turn 1 thing.
      Ric in P2 was losing ground to Ham while VES in P3 was closing on HAM (and Ric of course).
      On the radio Verstappen said he was faster and he could challenge Ham (translated he was asking to let him pass RIC or change the strategy) and a s a result he was pulled in early and gave Ham a run for his money. Ric simply was not fast enough in the race.

  8. I wonder if there is going to be a gifted/robbed discussion every time a teammate goes out of sync?

    Offcourse there is always a teamdicision involved, but the best strategy in my opinion is that each driver gets the best one suited for there needs and race outcome. Splitting stategies is always a sound idea, I would like to think most dicisions are based on best outcome, without personal preference.

    • The problem with more or less equal team mates occurs when the one behind is slightly faster than the other..are you going to have team orders to switch position? let them fight? or split the strategies?
      Letting him pass is bad for morale, fighting is bad for both lap times..change of strategy is often the easiest solution for the chief

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