Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel takes first Ferrari victory at Malaysian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel ended Mercedes' reign on the top step of the podium claiming an emphatic victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The German used a two-stop strategy as the Silver Arrows were left with no response as Vettel scored his first win for Ferrari and the team's first since Spain 2013.

Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second as team-mate Nico Rosberg completed the top three.

Mercedes buckle under the pressure

The key to Vettel's surprise upset came as Ferrari stuck to their planned two-stop strategy while both Mercedes elected to pit under an early safety car as Marcus Ericsson got an overtake all wrong into turn one on lap four and was beached in the gravel trap.

The move gave Vettel clear air after initially following Lewis Hamilton off the line, as the Briton led from pole heading into the first corner, but, with the Mercedes' stuck in the pack, the four-time world champion was able to pull out a 10-second margin, a gap that, thanks to some brilliant overtakes on both Mercedes and despite all the different efforts to close down the Prancing Horse, was the eventual margin by which Sebastian crossed the finish line.

This was the first time since they took over as the team to beat that Mercedes were truly threatened and some of the pit wall decisions taken by Paddy Lowe highlighted the inexperience the team has when it is not just a straight fight between its two drivers.

Raikkonen beats Williams after impressive recovery

To cap off a very impressive race for the Scuderia, Kimi Raikkonen made a fine recovery after sustaining a puncture on lap two which dropped him to the back of the field to claim fourth.

The Finn benefited greatly from the safety car bringing him back upto the pack but the pace was more than enough as Williams and Red Bull floundered in the race.

Indeed Williams were in a race of their own between Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas for fifth and sixth with Bottas pulling an impressive overtake around the outside of turn five on the penultimate lap to beat the Brazilian.

Toro Rosso get upper hand over Red Bull

The battle it was midfield was one of the most exciting for a while with overtaking, incidents and different strategies providing plenty of action after the borefest in Australia.

Most surprising, however, was the two Toro Rosso's leading the midfield battle as Max Verstappen claimed seventh overtaking team-mate and the equally impressive Carlos Sainz.

The two rookies showed great race craft and ruthlessness to overhaul the big brother's at Red Bull with Daniil Kvyat also getting the upper hand over Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian had damage on his RB11.

Better reliability prevents midfield points

With five teams having both cars in the top ten it, on what was a much more reliable day in the heat of Malaysia than it had been in Australia, it meant there was no repeat of the giant killings from the likes of Sauber, Force India and Lotus.

Romain Grosjean finished just outside the points in 11th after surviving an incident with Sergio Perez as the Mexican span the Lotus round in a bold move through turn 12, that earned Checo a 10-second penalty at his final pit-stop and indeed both Force India's finished at the back of the midfield as Nico Hulkenberg also received a timed penalty for spinning Daniil Kvyat earlier in the race.

After his heroics in Australia there was no comeback from a poor qualifying for Felipe Nasr as the Sauber driver had to settle for 12th.

Despite losing Will Stevens, who failed to start following a fuel pump problem the Briton suffered on Saturday, Manor still enjoyed some success on their first weekend of racing as Roberto Merhi made the finish albeit three laps down in 15th.

Both McLaren's fail to finish

From Manor's success to McLaren's failure as both cars were forced to retire in Malaysia. While the reasons have yet to be revealed, it wasn't all doom and gloom for the Woking team despite the eventual result.

The Honda-powered MP4-30 showed much improved race pace as they fought with the Sauber and Force India's for much of the race, running in the points at certain stages.

Days like today will still be a feature until they fully understand the new power unit but here are signs for optimism going forward.

Ferrari here to stay?

The shock victory today comes at just the right time for Formula 1 after all the negativity in Melbourne.

Vettel's emotional first win for the Scuderia raises the prospect of a two-team battle for this year's world championship and that for F1 could only be a good thing.

Whether Vettel and Raikkonen can consistently challenge Mercedes remains to be seen given the unique challenges of Malaysia but on a day when tyre preservation held greater emphasis than power, Ferrari put Mercedes in the shade and I likely speak for most when I say long let it continue.

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