Sepang, October 2, 2016 – The Malaysian Grand Prix, won by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, got underway with 59 degrees of track temperature: the hottest race conditions seen all year.
Two stops was the winning strategy as expected, but the tactics were influenced by three virtual safety car periods in the race – the second of which fell just within the pit window for a two-stop race.
Many drivers took advantage of this to switch to the hard tyre, which had to be used during the race because it was nominated twice as an obligatory available set. But Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was the only driver in the top four to move onto the soft tyres again during that period. This helped him undercut his direct rivals before emerging from his second stop in what became second overall after Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton retired from the lead with a mechanical problem – in what seemed set to be a one-stop strategy.
Ricciardo too may have adopted a one-stop strategy, but took advantage of the third virtual safety car period to make a final stop, which was the case for a number of other drivers as well, including Verstappen who finished behind his team mate to make a Red Bull one-two.