F1: Ferrari lay down the gauntlet as Mercedes are beaten in Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton leads at the start of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, closely followed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel
Lewis Hamilton leads at the start of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix, closely followed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel
  • Vettel leads Ferrari to shock victory
  • Hamilton takes second with Rosberg third for Mercedes
  • Toro Rosso continued strong start but Force India struggle

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel blew the 2015 F1 World Championship title race wide open when he led the Italian team to an impressive victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday.

With Mercedes expected to follow on from their dominance in Australia, the result came as a shock to much of the F1 world with Ferrari showing the capability to potentially challenge the Brackley team for this year’s world title.

It was Ferrari’s first win since 2013 as the Italian team gained an advantage during the early round of pit stops, and once in the lead, Vettel was able to control the pace and drove a near-flawless race to take victory ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

By finishing second, Hamilton continues to lead the World Championship, with Vettel up to second ahead of Rosberg.

Hamilton, who remains odds-on favourite to reclaim his world title despite this setback, said after the race: “Ferrari had a very fast car here and I am not sure why we were not on a par with them. We will have to go away and have a good look at all of the data we acquired and try and see if we can improve.

“I felt we had a car capable of winning this race. All the elements were in place - just not the win itself.”

Hamilton also confirmed this week that he is on the verge of signing a new deal with Mercedes which could be worth more than £27million a year.

His team-mate Rosberg is keen to get back to winning ways, adding: “I said in Australia that I would like to see Ferrari in a position to challenge us and to give us a push to make us work harder. I just didn’t expect them to be in a position to win races so soon!

“We hope we can get back to winning ways again in China.”

The Bicester-based Toro Rosso team scored points thanks to the efforts of their young rookie drivers. Max Verstappen continued to break records as he became the youngest F1 driver to ever score a point in the FIA F1 Drivers’ Championship when he finished seventh.

His Spanish team-mate, Carlos Sainz Jr., was eighth.

Verstappen said: “I am really happy. After failing to finish in Melbourne it was a great reward to score points here in Malaysia.”

The Silverstone-based Sahara Force India pairing, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, were out of luck following incidents during the race. Both drivers were on the receiving ends of penalties handed out by the stewards.

Perez clashed with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, while Hulkenberg tagged the Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat.

Hulkenberg said: “I thought I was involved in a racing incident. The penalty finished my race really and the same for Checo (Perez) and afterwards the best we could do was finished out of the points in 13th and 14th.”

Standings after round two: 1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 43; 2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 40; 3. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 33; 4. Felipe Massa (Williams) 20; 5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 12; 6. Felipe Nasr (Sauber) 10. Next race: China ,April 12.