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In the shadows of MH370, F1 brings some light to Malaysia

Mar 31, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Race Getty Images

Yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix was always going to be a subdued affair as the nation mourns following the disappearance of flight MH370 three weeks ago. However, the home representatives in the race put on a good show as the race brought some light to Kuala Lumpur at such a difficult time.

Although there were no Malaysian drivers racing – you’d need to go back to Alex Yoong in 2002 – there was a strong home connection to the all-conquering Mercedes team. The German marque’s title sponsor, Petronas, hails from Malaysia, and is the company that owns the iconic Petronas Towers that dominate the Kuala Lumpur skyline.

On the podium after the race, third place finisher Nico Rosberg was quick to address the Malaysian fans.

“Malaysia you can be proud because your company Petronas has taken us to the front of F1, so you can be really proud of that,” he said. “Petronas has given us the best oil and fuel in F1, it’s brilliant.”

Lewis Hamilton was slightly more reserved during his interview, dedicating his win to those affected by the disappearance of MH370.

“I just feel so grateful,” he said. “Particularly after such a tragedy three weeks ago. I’d really like to dedicate this to those people and their families.”

The only Malaysian team on the grid – Caterham – enjoyed a very successful race on home soil. The team had struggled throughout pre-season and got neither of its cars to the finish in Australia. However, this weekend, both Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson saw the checkered flag.

Kobayashi’s performance was particularly spectacular as he fought with the likes of Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat for position, and eventually finished in 13th place, already bettering the team’s best result from 2013.

Team owner Tony Fernandes, who hails from Malaysia, tweeted: “Well done @CaterhamF1 especially our two drivers. After all the gremlins great to get two cars home and good pace with so little set up.”

Formula 1 also honored the victims and families of MH370 with a minute of silence before the race.

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