Rosberg increases advantage after dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg finished third to increase his advantage over Lewis Hamilton
Nico Rosberg finished third to increase his advantage over Lewis Hamilton

Nico Rosberg established a significant advantage over Lewis Hamilton following Sunday’s dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix.

Red Bull Racing scored a one-two finish at the Sepang International Circuit where Daniel Ricciardo finished ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen for his first win of the season. But Rosberg recovered from a first lap collision to finish third for Mercedes AMG Petronas.

The championship fight between Brackley team-mates Rosberg and Hamilton, who started on pole, took a drastic turn when the Briton suffered an engine failure on lap 41. That gives Rosberg a 23-point advantage with only five races remaining.

But the race proved to be a frustrating one for Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean, who both failed to finish.

Gutiérrez started 13th for the Banbury team but sustained a punctured tyre in the aftermath of the opening-lap skirmish between Sebastian Vettel and Rosberg. The tyre on Gutiérrez’s car was nothing but a carcass as he limped back to the garage area while the track was under a Virtual Safety Car period.

Grosjean took advantage of the dust-up between Vettel and Rosberg to pick up three positions, advancing from 12th to run ninth. And when the VSC period ended, Grosjean engaged in a battle with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso.

Grosjean held off the two-time Formula One champion before Alonso passed the French driver on lap six. Running tenth, Grosjean set his sights on holding the position and earning another point-paying finish.

But on lap nine Grosjean applied the brakes down the long straight into the hairpin turn 15. The wheels locked, sending Grosjean off track and deep into the gravel trap.

Things went from bad to worse on lap 41 when Gutiérrez lost his left-front wheel on the short straight leading into turn nine.

Haas remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points, maintaining the 19-point gap to seventh-place Toro Rosso while ninth-place Renault cut the Banbury team’s margin to 20 points as Jolyon Palmer finished tenth.