MALAYSIAN GRAND PRIX 1.10.17
The last ever Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit concluded with Verstappen spectacularly re-finding his form with his first win in nearly 18 months, Hamilton extending his championship lead to 34 points despite a ‘disappointing’ car and Ferrari mulling over 2 failed engines over the weekend.
MALAYSIAN GP Race Results 2017:
1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
6. Sergio Perez (Force India)
7. Stoffel Vandoorne (Mclaren)
8. Lance Stroll (Williams)
9. Felipe Massa (Williams)
10. Esteban Ocon (Force India)
More on the F1 teams of 2017
Would Raikkonen help stop Hamilton?
Hamilton had started in pole, with Raikkonen in 2nd and Vettel at the back. The hope for Ferrari was that Raikkonen would be the one to scupper Hamilton’s hopes of winning, but as the Finn suffered engine problems on the way to the grid and failed to start – that driver was Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
This season to date, Verstappen has achieved 6 top 5 finishes, suffered 7 retirements and a 10th place in Italy – a dramatically inconsistent run – due to driving errors and reliability issues. Today he was incredible. Within 4 laps Verstappen had passed Hamilton and from then the race was his.
Luck would currently appear to be favouring Lewis Hamilton, while rival Sebastian Vettel is having a difficult run. The last race in Singapore seemed a certain win for him – before he crashed out on the first corner – conveniently (for Hamilton) taking Raikkonen and Verstappen with him. This weekend he suffered an engine problem (the same problem that team-mate Raikkonen fell prey to?) during the final practice, forcing the team to change the power unit, that then also proceeded to fail. This meant that he couldn’t set a time and had to start at the back of the grid, nevertheless, in a world class trademark performance he fought back to finished 4th.
Can Hamilton`s Luck Remain
But Hamilton knows that luck has a tendency to run out and he seems uneasy as we head towards the final 5 races. Without faith in his car, Hamilton knows that he has survived this far on his talent.
“it is ok, but considering he (Vettel) started last, it is not that great. We should have won and we just didn’t have the pace.” (Hamilton)
Mercedes struggled with pace this weekend; Hamilton, uncharacteristically, lost his lead to Verstappen and Bottas finished a place behind Vettel despite starting 15 places ahead of him. Ferrari had the quickest car, the race should have been theirs. Overall, Ferrari has the best race car this season, despite Mercedes leading in the Drivers and Constructors Championship.
McLaren’s Confidence Grows in Stoffel
The outstanding performance of the day goes to Stoffel Vandoorne, as he repaid McLaren’s continuing confidence in his abilities. McLaren had introduced some new aerodynamic parts – though only enough to fit Alonso’s car. But this didn’t stop Vandoorne qualifying quicker (in 7th and 3 places ahead of team mate Alonso) and making a strong start up to 5th on the first lap of the race – only losing places to Vettel and Perez.
“it was an extremely satisfying race. To finish seventh on a circuit like this; we thought it was going to be a bit difficult. Start was amazing.” (Vandoorne)
On to Japan next.
How will the 125 points available from the 5 remaining races be distributed?