Daniel Ricciardo was content to settle for second or third, but a late race reliability issue for one of the Mercedes drivers allowed him to take the lead and score the victory.
Typically, most Formula 1 races see the game-changing moments in the dash towards turn 1 on the first lap, and there was also that in this race.
Going into turn 1, Sebastian Vettel got in too hot and made contact with Nico Rosberg. He sent Rosberg spinning while he bent the left-front wheel of his car and retired from the race. This required a virtual safety car period.
After the race went back to green, it settled into the typical follow the leader routine, only interrupted by Romain Grosjean locking up the brakes, going off track at the final turn, retiring from the race and prompting another virtual safety car period.
Rosberg spent the whole race working his way from the rear of the field back up to the front. During his run to a third place finish, he was handed a 10-second time penalty by the stewards for contact with Kimi Raikkonen just past halfway.
It was on lap 40, however, when it became anyone’s race because pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, who had the field in check from the start, suffered an engine failure on the pit straight and retired from the race.
This prompted another virtual safety car period. Red Bull Racing brought both cars onto pit road to change onto soft tires. Ricciardo, who overtook his teammate for second on lap 39, assumed the lead and got first dibs on tire service.
The race went back to green a few laps later and Ricciardo drove on to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.
As has become his custom of late, Ricciardo celebrated with a “shoey” (chugging champagne from his shoe). Teammate Verstappen, team principle Christian Horner and even Rosberg also took a shot of champagne from Ricciardo’s shoe.
Verstappen took the second step on the podium and Rosberg, who had a 10-second penalty, finished 13 seconds ahead of Raikkonen and retained his podium finish.
Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top-five.
Sergio Perez finished sixth, Fernando Alonso finished seventh, Nico Hulkenburg finished eighth, Jenson Button finished ninth and Jolyon Palmer finished in the points for the first time in his career with a 10th place finish.
Rosberg leaves with a 23-point lead over Hamilton with five races remaining in the 2016 season.