Image: Screenshot from YouTube
Formula 1 is coming to an end in Malaysia and admittedly, we’re a bit sad.
F1 put Malaysia on the racing map since the first race flagged off in 1999 but on 1 October 2017, we’ll see the Formula 1 circus pack up for good as the chequered flag goes down for the final time in Malaysia.
As we prepare to bid farewell to the premiere auto racing event, we can’t help but dust off the history books and relive some of the most epic racing actions that took place at Sepang throughout the past 17 years.
1999: A Controversial End
The inaugural Formula 1 race in Malaysia ended in controversial fashion with both Ferrari drivers, Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher, disqualified from the race after finishing first and second due to a barge board infringement. An appeal would ultimately reinstate their positions days later.
2000: A Ferrari Party
Ferrari claimed the Constructors title at Sepang in 2000 with Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello finishing first and third on the podium. With Schumy already crowned world champ, the team celebrated their double in style by parading in red wigs after the race and at the press conference.
2001: Flash Flood
The Formula 1 grid was introduced to Malaysia’s madcap weather for the first time in 2001. After starting in dry conditions, the weather turned midway through the race, transforming Sepang into a huge waterpark with numerous cars slipping and sliding off track.
2002: Montoya & Schumacher Clash
A first round clash with Michael Schumacher officially ended Juan Pablo Montoya's chance of winning the 2002 race. Receiving a drive through penalty, the Colombian would eventually finish second with his Williams-BMW teammate Ralf Schumacher claiming the race win.
2003: Kimi’s First Win
Sepang will always be special to the Iceman because that’s where he climbed to the top spot of the podium for the very first time. Held as the second race of the 2003 Formula 1 calendar, Raikkonen qualified seventh but managed to take his McLaren through the field, finishing way ahead of second place Rubens Barrichello in a Ferrari.
2004: Button Claims A Podium
Schumacher and Ferrari continued their dominance in Malaysia in 2004 but it was also the year when a young Jenson Button showcased his talents. Driving the wheels of his BAR-Honda, the Brit made his first podium appearance with an impressive third place.
2005: The Alonso Show
Spain’s Fernando Alonso hit his stride in 2005, winning the Malaysian race and securing his first ever world title that year. But the action on track was even more riveting with Raikkonen suffering a puncture and Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber crashing into each other.
2006: Renault Repeats
Fisichella made amends for his collision the previous year by driving a flawless race to win at Sepang. As the Italian sped away at the front, the action behind proved even more exciting with constant changes in race positions right up until the chequered flag.
2007: Hamilton vs Massa
Alonso would win in Sepang for McLaren but it was also the race that made a lot of fans sit up and take notice of Lewis Hamilton. The rookie sensation tangled with seasoned racer Felipe Massa during the race and kept ahead to eventually finish second.
2008: Button On Grass
A largely by the numbers race with Raikkonen winning ahead of Robert Kubica in the BMW Sauber. But one of the highlights was the sight of Button going cross country in his Honda after running wide off track.
2009: The Iceman Stops For Ice-Cream
With the Malaysian Grand Prix experiencing one of its worse thunderstorms, the 2009 race was literally a wash out as stewards called time on the race after just 31 laps. Still, the Malaysian GP would best be remembered for Raikkonen stopping for ice-cream as most of the grid waited it out in the wet.
2010: Charge Of The Bulls
The Red Bulls broke the dominance of long-time Formula 1 teams by emerging as contenders in 2010. They proved it too with an impressive 1-2 victory with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in a class of their own in Sepang that year.
2011: Petrov Flies, Pastor Crashes
Crashes are pretty common in Formula 1 but Russian Vitaly Petrov delivered one of the strangest by going airborne. The race also saw Colombia’s Pastor Maldonado spinning and crashing going into the pitlane.
2012: Rain Falls, Perez Shines
Unexpected rain once again played a key role in one of Sepang’s most exciting races. With cars spinning out, the action heated up as the track dried with Sauber’s Sergio Perez chasing down Ferrari’s Alonso. A team order for Perez to conserve his engine ultimately forced the Mexican to settle for second.
2013: Multi 21
You can thank Vettel and Malaysia for the term ‘Multi 21’, which is actually a coded message for drivers of the same team to hold their position on track. Vettel, of course, ignored it altogether and overtook teammate Webber towards the finish of the race, ultimately pouring cold water on Red Bull’s dominant win in Malaysia.
2014: Mercedes 1-2
Mercedes were unmatched at the hottest race of the year with Hamilton securing victory virtually unchallenged, with teammate Nico Rosberg coming in second. The race also saw a number of incidences on track, most notably with Raikkonen pitting with just three tyres after his right rear rubber got torn to shreds in the first lap.
2015: Ferrari Resurgence
Vettel notched his first Ferrari podium in Malaysia back in 2015. And the German was certainly chuffed to deliver a victory for the struggling Scuderia, who were without a win since 2013.
2016: Hamilton On Fire
Hamilton literally saw his championship aspirations go up in smoke at Sepang. Forced out with an engine failure on lap 40 after leading the race, the win would ultimately be handed to Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen claiming the 1-2. Hamilton’s teammate Rosberg was the biggest benefactor here, with his third place finish solidifying his lead in the driver’s championship.