Verstappen victorious at Sepang

Max Verstappen scored his second career victory in Formula 1 with a dominant drive in the final Malaysian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel recovered from starting last on the grid to take fourth position.

Red Bull Racing’s Verstappen passed pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1 on lap four at Sepang and from there controlled the race to take the win.

Hamilton finished 12.7 seconds adrift in second, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completing the podium in third.

Ferrari’s Vettel, running a new spec power unit, hunted Ricciardo down in the closing laps, but had his challenge cooled when his team told him to back off because of concern over engine temperatures.

In a bizarre incident on the slow down lap, Vettel collided with Lance Stroll’s Williams, causing significant damage to the left rear of the Ferrari.

Vettel, who hitched a lift back to pits on the side of Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber and took his steering wheel with him, now trails championship leader Hamilton by 34 points with five races to go.

There was drama for Ferrari before the start as Kimi Raikkonen, who was due to start second, suffered a turbo problem, and though the team tried to fix it, it was unable to do so before the race began, forcing The Iceman into retirement.

Hamilton got away cleanly from pole, with Verstappen holding off a fast-starting Valtteri Bottas to take second, and Ricciardo slotting into fourth.

Verstappen then set about closing the gap to Hamilton and once he was in DRS range, the Red Bull driver was able to launch a move down the inside at Turn 1.

His team-mate Ricciardo hustled Bottas, getting alongside around the outside of Turn 1 and though the Mercedes driver held on around the outside of Turn 2 to get the place back, Ricciardo had the momentum to pass into Turn 4.

Further back, Vettel was making strong progress, climbing up to P12 by lap two and eighth position by the end of lap 11.

Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit for the first and only time at the end of lap 26, the Mercedes driver swapping super-softs for a fresh set of soft tyres.

Race leader Verstappen reacted the next lap, taking the softs, too, and rejoining ahead of Hamilton.

Ricciardo inherited the lead, but handed it back to Verstappen, who led Hamilton by around nine seconds, when he pitted two laps later.

As Verstappen controlled the race out front, Ricciardo set about trying to catch Hamilton, but in the end the Mercedes was out of reach and Ricciardo had to focus on the threat from Vettel.

Vettel got close enough to launch one attack into Turn 1, but Ricciardo slammed the door shut in front of him, and after that Vettel was forced to back off.

Bottas finished a lonely fifth place with Force India’s Sergio Perez having a clean race to take sixth.

Stoffel Vandoorne made a strong start, rising up to fifth from seventh, but he did not have the speed to match Vettel and Perez and ended up seventh for the second successive race.

Stroll was eighth, ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa, who came out on top in a feisty battle for ninth with Esteban Ocon.

It was a scrappy race for Ocon, who was sandwiched between Massa and team-mate Perez at the start, leading to him picking up a puncture.

He also collided with Carlos Sainz Jr at Turn 1, pitching him into a spin, and then found himself on the grass when battling Massa later in the race.

Nico Hulkenberg finished just outside the points in P11 with Renault team-mate Jolyon Palmer having a scrappy race, including two spins in close succession, the second of which was the result of contact with Kevin Magnussen, and ended up P16.

Sainz was running in the points when he was forced to retire with an engine problem, while rookie Toro Rosso team-mate Pierre Gasly finished P14 in his first Grand Prix.

So many congratulations to Max Verstappen. After so much bad luck this season with seven non-finishes in the first 14 races, the popular Red Bull driver finally wins his second  race in Formula 1. The best birthday present with this Malaysian Grand Prix result.

As for Sebastian Vettel. This was a solid performance after a disappointing qualifying. Starting last and yet finished in fourth position. Brilliant fight back. Hopefully Vettel can continue this battle for the title.

Malaysian Grand Prix race result after 56 laps:
1    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    56    1h30m01.290s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    56    12.770s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    56    22.519s
4    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    56    37.362s
5    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    56    56.021s
6    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    56    1m18.630s
7    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
8    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
9    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    55    1 Lap
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    55    1 Lap
12    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
13    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
14    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    55    1 Lap
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    55    1 Lap
16    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    55    1 Lap
17    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    55    1 Lap
18    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    54    2 Laps
–    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    29    Power Unit
–    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    0    Not started

Drivers’ standings:
1    Lewis Hamilton    281
2    Sebastian Vettel    247
3    Valtteri Bottas    222
4    Daniel Ricciardo    177
5    Kimi Raikkonen    138
6    Max Verstappen    93
7    Sergio Perez    76
8    Esteban Ocon    57
9    Carlos Sainz    48
10    Nico Hulkenberg    34
11    Felipe Massa    33
12    Lance Stroll    32
13    Romain Grosjean    26
14    Stoffel Vandoorne    13
15    Kevin Magnussen    11
16    Fernando Alonso    10
17    Jolyon Palmer    8
18    Pascal Wehrlein    5
19    Daniil Kvyat    4
20    Marcus Ericsson    0
21    Antonio Giovinazzi    0
22    Pierre Gasly    0

Constructors’ standings:
1    Mercedes    503
2    Ferrari    385
3    Red Bull-Renault    270
4    Force India-Mercedes    133
5    Williams-Mercedes    65
6    Toro Rosso-Renault    52
7    Renault    42
8    Haas-Ferrari    37
9    McLaren-Honda    23
10    Sauber-Ferrari    5

8 thoughts on “Verstappen victorious at Sepang

  1. Malaysian Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Max Verstappen celebrated his 20 birthday weekend by doing exactly what he wanted to do – winning a Grand Prix from the front – as Malaysia signed off in great style as an F1 venue. A commanding drive saw the Red Bull driver soundly beat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, with team mate Daniel Ricciardo holding off Sebastian Vettel for third – the Ferrari driver narrowly missing out on a podium having started from the back of the grid.

    After winning an opening-lap tussle with the fast-starting Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas to seize second place, Verstappen confidently took the lead from polesitter Hamilton on the fourth lap. And as the Mercedes driver struggled a little, the Dutchman never looked back and controlled the race to win by 12.7s.

    While it was a quiet race for the points leader, it was anything but for his pursuers.

    Ricciardo fought and beat Bottas before himself coming under pressure late in the race from back-row starter Vettel, who drove a superb race. The latter started on Pirelli’s soft tyres and was thus on light fuel and supersofts when he began to slash into Ricciardo’s advantage late in the race, just as the Australian himself was closing on Hamilton.

    Vettel got close enough for a long look down the inside in Turn 1 on the 49th lap, but Ricciardo was having nothing of it and held his ground. That proved to be the tipping point, as Vettel’s challenge faded as his tyres began to go off and his engine gave cause for concern. From 0.5s the gap between them opened to 14.8s by the flag.

    And after that there was further drama for Ferrari, when Vettel collided with Lance Stroll’s Williams on the slow-down lap and came to a stop with its left-rear wheel atop his engine cover. Vettel hitched a ride back to the pits on the sidepod of Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber.

    The result means that Hamilton is now 34 points ahead of Vettel with five races remaining.

    It was a tough day for Ferrari, as Kimi Raikkonen didn’t even take the start after being pushed off his front-row slot and into the pits, having experienced power loss on his way to the grid.

    It wasn’t great for the other Finn either, as Bottas finished a distant fifth ahead of Sergio Perez, who drove heroically for Force India despite feeling unwell.

    A fine drive from Stoffel Vandoorne brought McLaren seventh place on a day when Fernando Alonso could muster only 11th, while eighth for Stroll and ninth for Felipe Massa – who had two incidents with Esteban Ocon – brought Williams a lot of points that help their fight with Toro Rosso and Renault, who both had bad days.

    Ocon pitted his Force India early after contact with Massa in Turn 2 at the start, when he got squeezed between his team mate and the Williams, sustaining a puncture. After that he did a grand job to take the final point after doing 54 laps on a set of soft tyres.

    Behind Alonso, Kevin Magnussen survived incidents with both the McLaren driver and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer as he held off Haas team mate Romain Grosjean and Toro Rosso rookie Pierre Gasly for 12th, as Palmer, who spun twice, crossed the line 15th, just a tenth ahead of troubled team mate Nico Hulkenberg.

    Wehrlein and Sauber team mate Marcus Ericsson completed the finishers, as besides Raikkonen, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz dropped from points contention with engine trouble.

  2. After scoring pole position, Lewis Hamilton struggled for pace in the race and admitted that Mercedes has “work to do” to stay ahead. Motorsport.com has the full story.

    Formula 1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes has “work to do” with its car to stay ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in the title battle.

    Hamilton extended his lead over Vettel to 34 points with second place in the Malaysian Grand Prix, helped by the Ferrari driver having to start from the back of the grid.

    But Vettel’s pace as he charged through to finish fourth, and the fact that Hamilton had no answer to the speed of race winner Max Verstappen, highlighted that Mercedes is going to face a challenge in the final five races of the season.

    When asked about the championship situation with Vettel, Hamilton said: “I feel good but we have some work to do with the car.

    “We didn’t have the pace here this weekend. There are still races ahead, and some we can win, but we’ve got to keep pushing.

    “I struggled on both sets [of tyre compound], the car was good in some places and in some others, the issues we have with the car are magnified.

    “There is still work to do – but it is a fundamental issue with this year’s car.”

    Verstappen made short work of Hamilton to take the lead in the early stages, and while the Mercedes was slow on the straights at that stage because his battery pack was de-rating, he conceded that it was unlikely he could have kept the Red Bull behind anyway.

    “Big congrats to Max, he did a fantastic job today,” said Hamilton. “The race was a tough one. Obviously they [Red Bull] had the upper hand on us today.

    “I was having problems with de-rate at the beginning of the race and struggling with battery power. I went to defend but didn’t want to risk it, so didn’t completely close the door and be aggressive.

    “At the end of the day Max had more pace than me, so it was going to be a struggle to stay ahead.”

  3. This was a great fight back from Sebastian Vettel after a disappointing qualifying. Started last and finished four. But on the cool-down lap, he was involved in a shunt with Lance Stroll. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel limited the damage to his Formula 1 title bid by finishing fourth from the back of the grid in Malaysia, but ended his day on three wheels after a bizarre clash with Williams rookie Lance Stroll.

    On the cool-down lap, Vettel moved to the right of Stroll at the Turn 5 left-hander, where the two cars touched.

    Vettel’s car was launched into the air, wrecking its left-rear wheel and forcing him to a halt and raising the spectre of gearbox damage.

    He was given a ride back to the pits by Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber.

    “Is that possible?” asked Vettel over the radio. “Stroll is not looking where he is going. He completely shunted into my car. I mean, seriously!”

    Stroll countered: “Vettel just ran into the side of me.”

    Stewards will now investigate the clash.

    From the back of the grid, Vettel charged his way through the field. He ran long on the soft tyre, before undercutting Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes for fourth place by switching to the supersoft for the second half of the race.

    He broke the outright lap record in his pursuit of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, but was hampered by a stubborn Fernando Alonso – who held him up with eight laps to go while being lapped.

    Vettel radioed: “Hey what a… Come on, Alonso. Really? I thought you were better than that.”

    After attempting one move on Ricciardo with six laps remaining, Vettel lost pace and was forced to settle for fourth – 16 places ahead of where he started.

    Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen didn’t even start the race, being forced to give up his front-row starting spot on the dummy grid.

    His car was pushed to the garage with an apparent turbo problem, where it couldn’t be repaired in time.

    “Obviously we had some issue, I dunno what it is exactly, I don’t think any of us know right now,” said Raikkonen. “It’s far from perfect, but it’s one of those things that happens sometimes.

    “Impossible to say but I’m pretty certain I would have had a very good car today, but we didn’t go far enough – where we would end up we’ll never know.”

  4. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel says Williams rookie Lance Stroll was to blame for their “completely unnecessary” collision on the cool-down lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    Vettel had finished fourth, with Stroll eighth, as they came together at Turn 5.

    The impact smashed the left-rear corner of Vettel’s car – creating concerns over a potential gearbox replacement penalty for Suzuka.

    Stewards reviewed the incident, but decided no further action was necessary.

    “The Stewards consider that no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident and will therefore take no further action,” they said.

    “The Stewards also consider that even though the race has ended, caution still needs to be exercised by all drivers on the slow-down lap.”

    Vettel, however, blamed Stroll for the incident.

    “I went on the outside to pick up a bit of rubber,” said Vettel. “I think Lance wasn’t looking and wanted to do the same. I think he was looking at his [steering] wheel. I gave him enough room.

    “But it was too late, I was there already, and then there was contact. Completely unnecessary. He just didn’t look and decided to pick up some rubber.”

    When asked about the gearbox, he replied: “I don’t know. We need to see, I’m sure they’ll find a way… not my fault if someone just decides to pick up rubber and hit another car.”

    Stroll’s view of the clash was that Vettel initiated the contact as he had “kept pushing”.

    “I was just shutting off the car, like to do the in-lap, and he just came around the outside and kept pushing,” said Stroll. “Never happened to me before.

    “I think we’re gonna have to go the stewards. Just a very strange incident. The race wasn’t going on so it wasn’t intentional from either of us.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  5. Poor Kimi Raikkonen. After a solid qualifying performance with second quickest time. The Iceman was unable to take the start with an issue in his Ferrari. Formula1.com provides the news story.

    Ferrari’s nightmare weekend in Sepang continued on Sunday afternoon, as Kimi Raikkonen was wheeled away from his front-row grid slot and back to the team’s garage just before the start of the 2017 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix.

    With team mate Sebastian Vettel last on the grid after technical problems stopped the German setting a qualifying time on Saturday, Raikkonen was Ferrari’s best hope of a strong race result. However, it was clear that the Finn had problems as he drove to the grid, telling his crew he had no battery charge.

    Once on the grid, mechanics worked frantically on his car, removing the engine cover on the SF70H. It was back on in time, and the team looked to have resolved matters. However, a couple of minutes prior to the formation lap, Raikkonen was hurriedly pushed back to the garage, from which he never emerged.

  6. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen took ‘extra risk’ with Lewis Hamilton because of the Formula 1 title battle. Autosport.com has the details.

    Malaysian Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen says he took “extra risk” in passing Lewis Hamilton for the lead because he knew the Formula 1 championship leader had more to lose.

    Verstappen overtook polesitter Hamilton by diving down the inside into Turn 1 on the fourth lap, going on to claim the second win of his F1 career.

    With Hamilton starting the race 28 points ahead of nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel, Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo suggested after qualifying that other drivers could take advantage from the championship leader playing it safe.

    Verstappen said: “I had a good run out of last corner and opted to go for inside.

    “I knew Lewis had more to lose as he was fighting for the championship.

    “I took an extra risk because of it, it was my only chance.”

    Verstappen’s victory never looked under threat after that – a Turn 1 run-in with the battling lapped cars of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen aside – as he arrived at the chequered flag 12.8s ahead of Hamilton.

    “Once I was past Lewis, I could focus on pace and look after my tyres,” he said.

    “It was pleasing – it was the first time I have had that in my [F1] career.

    “I just had to stay very focused, because [with] the backmarkers you could lose a lot of time.

    “I almost got taken out at Turn 1, but afterwards I could control everything.”

    The second Red Bull of Ricciardo completed the podium behind Verstappen and Hamilton, with the Australian’s victory bid compromised by Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes getting ahead of him at the start.

    Once he was up to third, he had to switch his attention in the closing stages from trying to catch Hamilton to defending from Vettel, putting a bold block on the Ferrari into Turn 1 when Vettel launched his only real attack.

    “My engineer kept telling me he was catching me, it did get to a point where I told him to zip up!” Ricciardo said.

    “I defended a bit and saw Seb still coming, I closed the door a bit late towards the apex.

    “I don’t know if he was unhappy about it but [it] didn’t seem over-aggressive from my side, didn’t feel like a really late move or anything.

    “I expected him to attack until the end, I expected him to keep coming and I guess maybe he killed the tyres trying to get close to me.”

  7. Contrast of fortunes for the McLaren-Honda drivers. Vandoorne hails best-ever Formula 1 drive, as Alonso struggles. Motorsport.com has the story.

    McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne says his seventh position in the Malaysian Grand Prix was his “best drive in Formula 1”.

    Vandoorne outpaced his two-time world champion teammate Fernando Alonso on Saturday, and delivered his second seventh-place finish on the trot in the race.

    “I can definitely say that, for me, that was my best drive in Formula 1 until now,” said Vandoorne.

    “To finish seventh on the circuit like this, and being very quick all weekend, to qualify seventh, we thought it was going to be very difficult today, and we had a fantastic race.

    “I got a great, great start – and then we knew it was going to be difficult to keep the Force Indias and Williamses behind, but only [Sergio] Perez came through. We pushed like crazy, lap after lap, trying to manage the fuel and tyres at the same time.

    “Tough conditions out there, but we managed the gap with Lance very well, so extremely satisfied with seventh.”

    On the subject of his intra-team battle with Alonso, Vandoorne says he’s finally being able to show his best work as McLaren improves its form.

    “The last races have been very, very good as well for me,” he said. “I’m definitely working hard with the team, putting the pressure on [Alonso], and it’s good for the team spirit.”

    Teammate Alonso finished outside of the points in 11th, and rued a delay on the opening lap when Esteban Ocon collided with Felipe Massa in a three-wide moment that included the second Williams of Lance Stroll.

    “We’ve had better days, definitely,” said Alonso. “It was a shame at corner 2 that the Williamses were in front of us and touched each other and we lost a few places there.

    “Then we were always in the secondary group, always slower than our true pace, but we could not overtake. Hopefully in Japan we come back in a stronger form.”

  8. The stewards in Malaysia have decided to take no further action over the post-race coming together between Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel that left the latter with significant damage.

    The incident occurred on the slowing down lap as Vettel, who finished a fine fourth having started last on the grid, went around the outside of Stroll’s Williams at Turn 5.

    Heavy contact was made, but while the Canadian’s car escaped damage, Vettel’s car was rendered undriveable with the left-rear tyre ripped off the car.

    Vettel immediately pointed the finger at Stroll over team radio, saying the rookie hadn’t been looking where he was going, while Stroll intimated that the German had sideswiped him. However, after examining video evidence the stewards determined neither driver could be considered ‘wholly or predominantly to blame’.

    “On the approach to Turn 5 during the slow down lap after the end of the race, Car 18 (STR) was towards the middle of the track, Car 8 (GRO) was closing from behind on the inside of Car 18 and at the same time, Car 5 (VET) overtook Car 18 on the outside and in doing so, turned in slightly towards the apex of Turn 5,” read the official FIA report.

    “Simultaneously Car 18 was moving slight away from the apex. This resulted in contact between the left rear tyre of Car 5 and the right front tyre of Car 18.”

    Speaking to reporters before presenting his case to the stewards, Vettel reiterated his belief that Stroll was to blame.

    “I went to the outside to pick up a bit of rubber and I think Lance wasn’t looking and wanted to do the same, but that was too late – I was there already and we had contact,” said the Ferrari driver.

    “That’s completely unnecessary. I think he just didn’t look and then decided to pick up some rubber.”

    Asked if his car could have sustained gearbox damage in the incident – which could potentially necessitate a change and a five-place grid penalty in Japan – Vettel said: “I don’t know, we need to see. It’s not my fault if somebody just decides to pick up rubber and hit another car.”

    When presented with Vettel’s viewpoint, Stroll, who finished eighth, explained that any contact was purely accidental.

    “It was the in lap I was just driving very slowly to the pit lane,” he said. “It was a very strange incident. Obviously the race wasn’t going on, so it wasn’t intentional from either of us.”

    The Stroll incident capped a miserable weekend for Ferrari, who saw Vettel consigned to last on the grid having been unable to take part in qualifying and Kimi Raikkonen unable to start the race because of separate power unit issues.

    “I think we have a very quick car – I think if we start ahead we win the race, but obviously that didn’t happen today,” Vettel said in reference to the pace Ferrari showed all weekend.

    “I think we were the quickest car for the majority of the race when we were in free air, but we had to start last. Certainly it was more entertaining, the first couple of laps in particular. But overall tough, also with Kimi retiring before we started. So tough race.”

    Source: Formula1.com

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