Max Verstappen holds off Lewis Hamilton to win final Malaysian GP

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen won the final edition of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton finished second to extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 34 points.

Verstappen, 20, starting from second after Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari failed to make the grid, overtook pole-sitter Hamilton on lap four before clinching the second victory of his career and first this season.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was third ahead of Vettel, who weaved through the field to finish fourth after starting from the back of the grid following engine problems.

The results mean Hamilton enjoys a big championship lead over Vettel with five races left in the season, starting next week in Japan.

Compounding Ferrari’s woes, Vettel’s car ended the day with only three wheels following an impact with Williams’ Lance Stroll after the finish line.

“That’s impossible,” Vettel thundered over the radio. “Stroll wasn’t looking where he was going!”

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Max Verstappen put in an inspiring performance to win the final race in Sepang – his second career victory since the Spanish Grand Prix last May.

The 20-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign, retiring from seven of the 15 races due to mechanical issues.

Starting from P3, the Dutchman pulled away from Lewis Hamilton on lap 4 and never looked like being caught.

With his team mate Daniel Ricciardo finishing third, it proved to be a successful weekend for Red Bull.

FASTEST LAP

Sebastian Vettel may have fallen short after starting from P20 on the grid, however his lap of of 1:34.080 on 41 proved to be the fastest of the day.

Nico Hulkenberg’s 1:34.266 on lap 52 was the second-fastest, with Lewis Hamilton’s 1:34.452 on 48 third fastest as he pushed for second place.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

After an impressive weekend in practice, Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire before the race even started.

Starting from P2, the Finn was pulled from the race as the Ferrari engineers were unable to fix a turbo issue.

Ferrari had hoped to salvage something from Kimi’s grid place as Sebatian Vettel was handed a 20-place penalty after the Italian side made several changes to his engine before the race.

ONE TO WATCH

Another fantastic performance from Stoffel Vandoorne as the Belgian finished seventh for the second consecutive race.

In his rookie Formula One season, the McLaren star looked solid in Sepang as he held off the challenges of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez to finish comfortably in the points.

After being forced to retire four times due to mechanical issues this campaign, the 25-year-old is starting to show flashes of his class as he bids to finish the season on a high.

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Lewis Hamilton takes pole at Malaysian GP ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton

World championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start from pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix with title rival Sebastian Vettel at the back of the grid.

Hamilton had been off the pace all weekend in practice but his Mercedes team turned it around in qualifying Saturday to head Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

But Vettel’s world championship hopes suffered a huge blow when his Ferrari failed to set a time in the first qualifying session, meaning he will start last.

Vettel, 28 points behind Hamilton in the title race, lost drive on his first flying lap.

“It feels like I have no turbo,” he said over team radio.

Hamilton was clearly surprised to be on pole after a torrid weekend where he had failed to be quicker than fifth in any practice session.

“We had no idea what was going to happen today,” said Hamilton.

“I’m sorry for what happened to Sebastian but somehow we managed to turn it around and it is a real surprise to be up here with these guys.

“I’m very grateful to the team. The car felt good.”

With mechanics unable to fix Vettel’s Ferrari before the end of Q1 the German will start from the back of the grid unless there are penalties for other drivers.

Vettel’s engine had been changed before qualifying after a similar gremlin in final practice Saturday only for the new unit to fail.

“Who knows what will happen tomorrow,” Vettel told AFP. “The race is tomorrow not today. We have a very quick car and we saved some tyres.

“If it happened tomorrow it would be more of a problem. Anything can happen – you saw that in Singapore two weeks ago how everything can change.”

In Singapore, Vettel had started from pole only to crash on a rain-soaked first lap as Lewis Hamilton won from fifth on the grid to extend his championship lead.

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Sebastian Vettel to start Malaysian Grand Prix in 20th position after engine failure during qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel’s world championship hopes suffered a huge blow on Saturday when his Ferrari failed to set a time in qualifying, meaning he will start last in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel, 28 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the title race, lost drive on his first flying lap.

“It feels like I have no turbo,” he said over team radio.

His mechanics could not fix the problem so he will start from the back of the grid for Sunday’s race at Sepang, unless there are penalties for other drivers.

Vettel’s engine had been changed before qualifying after a similar gremlin in final practice Saturday only for the new unit to fail.

“Who knows what will happen tomorrow,” Vettel told AFP. “The race is tomorrow not today. We have a very quick car and we saved some tyres.

“If it happened tomorrow it would be more of a problem. Anything can happen – you saw that in Singapore two weeks ago how everything can change.”

In Singapore, Vettel had started from pole only to crash on a rain-soaked first lap as Lewis Hamilton won from fifth on the grid to extend his championship lead.

Provided by AFP Sport

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