The expected Mercedes AMG Petronas’ one-two in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix didn’t materialise as Sebastian Vettel pipped Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to first place.
The German driver produced a rare Ferrari victory in the second race of the year despite Hamilton starting on pole position again for the Brackley team. It was the first time since last year’s Belgium Grand Prix that one of the two Mercedes drivers didn’t take the chequered flag.
Vettel started one place behind Hamilton and took the early lead when Mercedes called the British driver in for a pit stop when the safety car was out. Vettel was eight seconds ahead when he made his first pit stop on lap 17 and he soon closed back up on the Mercedes drivers after rejoining in third.
When Hamilton made his final stop on lap 38 he rejoined 14 seconds behind Vettel and, although he was slightly faster than the Ferrari, the Brackley driver was unable to get past Vettel.
Hamilton had to settle for second with his German team-mate in third while Romain Grosjean came 11th for Lotus but his Enstone team-mate Pastor Maldonado had to retire near the end of the race.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said: “It’s a great win for Ferrari but a wake-up call for us. We knew Ferrari had done a great job over the winter and this shows that we can’t afford to be complacent.”