Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has led a surprise one-two for Red Bull at a turbulent Malaysian Grand Prix which saw one-time race leader Lewis Hamilton stopped by an engine failure and Nico Rosberg finish third after spinning early on and handed a 10-second penalty.
Hamilton seemed to be comfortably heading towards his 50th career victory and the championship lead on Sunday when flames suddenly burst out of his Mercedes with 15 laps left, forcing the title holder to retire.
Hamilton’s misfortune allowed Ricciardo to claim his fourth victory overall ahead of teammate Max Verstappen and Rosberg – which the Australian celebrated in style by drinking champagne out of his shoe at the victory ceremony.
Hamilton appeared to be on course towards a morale-boosting victory to turn the title race back in his favour when the engine failed without any warning in the 41st lap.
The Red Bull battle heated up at the same time with Ricciardo firmly standing his ground against the teenager Verstappen.
It turned out to be duel for the race win, and Ricciardo added to his three top spots from 2014 in 1 hour 37 minutes 12.776 seconds, after missing out earlier this year in Spain and Monaco.
“Lewis got the lead and had his problems. I am not one for believing in a whole lot, but it went the other way in Monaco, and I will take this today, no hard feelings to Lewis,” Ricciardo said.
“It has been two years since the last win, and it has been a bit emotional. We have come so close but I said two weeks ago we would win one and we did.”
Rosberg dropped to the back of the pack after being hit in the first turn by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel but he fought back to make the podium even though he was handed the penalty by stewards for a robust passing move on Kimi Raikkonen.
Rosberg not only retained the championship lead but even increased it by 15 points over Hamilton to 23 points with five races left.
Hamilton was fully frustrated and suggested that the engine problems only affect him and not Rosberg.
“My question is to Mercedes. We have so many engines made for drivers, but mine are the only ones failing this year. Someone need to give me some answers because this is not acceptable. We are fighting for the championship and only my engines are failing,” he told BBC radio.