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
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
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