Verstappen cruises to Malaysia winposted in F101 | 10 | 2017

    MAX VERSTAPPEN CELEBRATED his 20th birthday 24-hours late by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Dutchman dominated the race in his Red Bull, comfortably finishing ahead of the Mercedes of world championship leader Lewis Hamilton, and his own Red Bull tam-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Sebastian Vettel recovered from starting last to take fourth. (Related: Hamilton wins dramatic Singapore GP)

    Verstappen’s first F1 win of the season was triggered when he passed pole-sitter Hamilton into Turn 1 on lap four at Sepang. It was a lead he was never to surrender, with Hamilton crossing the finish line 12.7 seconds adrift. (Related: Aston Martin confirms Red Bull F1 deal)

    Vettel, running a new spec engine in his Ferrari, closed right up to the back of Ricciardo in the closing laps. But any hopes the German had of fighting for a podium are dashed when his team told him to back off because of concern over engine temperatures.

    Max-passes-Lewis.jpg

    But Vettel’s race took a strangely bizarre turn on the slow-down lap when he inexplicably collided with Lance Stroll's Williams. The impact caused significant damage to the left rear of the Ferrari.

    The Ferrari driver — who now trails Hamilton by 34 points in the title race with just five races remaining — hitched a lift back to pits on the side of Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber and took his steering wheel with him.

    Max-and-Daniel.jpg

    Ferrari’s day had also started badly when Kimi Raikkonen, who was due to start second, suffered a turbo problem before the race even started. Though the team tried to rectify it, it was unable to do so before the race began, forcing him into retirement.

    When the race did start, Hamilton got away clearly, while Verstappen held off the Mercedes of a fast-starting Valtteri Bottas to take second. Ricciardo slotted into fourth.

    Verstappen then closed in on Hamilton, and with the aid of DRS was able to complete the manoeuvre down the inside at Turn 1. Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo then hustled Bottas before eventually passing him at Turn 4.

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    Vettel meanwhile was making strong progress, and had climbed up to 12th by lap two. By the end of lap 11, he was eighth.

    After their only scheduled pistols, Verstappen emerged still ahead of Hamilton, who was the first of the frontrunners to pit, swapping his super-softs for a fresh set of soft tyres on lap 26.

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    Behind Verstappen, Hamilton, Ricciardo and Vettel, Bottas finished a distant fifth, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez.

    For the second successive race, Stoffel Vandoorne brought his McLaren home in seventh, with Stroll eighth, ahead of Williams team-mate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian veteran came out on top in a feisty battle for ninth with the Force India of Esteban Ocon.

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    It was a bad day at the office for Jolyon Palmer. After the heady success of finishing sixth last time out in Singapore, the Renault driver had a scrappy race, including two spins in close succession, the second of which was the result of contact with Kevin Magnussen. The Englishman finished 16th, one place behind team-mate Nico Hulkenberg

    Toro Rosso rookie Pierre Gasly, standing in for Daniil Kvyat, finished 14th in his first grand prix, while team-mate Carlos Sainz was forced to retire with an engine problem

    F1 — Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang International Circuit (Result):

    1. Max Verstappen NED Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer 56 laps, 1hr 30m 01.290s

    2. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +12.770s

    3. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer +22.519s

    4. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari +37.362s

    5. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +56.021s

    6. Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India-Mercedes +1m 18.630s

    7. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren-Honda +1 lap

    8. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing-Mercedes +1 lap

    9. Felipe Massa BRA Williams Martini Racing-Mercedes +1 lap

    10. Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India-Mercedes +1 lap

    11. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren-Honda +1 lap

    12. Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas-Ferrari +1 lap

    13. Romain Grosjean FRA Haas-Ferrari +1 lap

    14. Pierre Gasly FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap

    15.J olyon Palmer GBR Renault Sport F1 +2 laps

    16. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport F1 +2 laps

    17. Pascal Wehrlein GER Sauber-Ferrari +2 laps

    18. Marcus Ericsson SWE Sauber-Ferrari +2 laps

     

    Retired:

    Carlos Sainz SPA Scuderia Toro Rosso-Renault 29 laps completed

    Did not start:

    Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari

    Related: Scot Dexter emulates Verstappen to win world karting win

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    Jim McGill

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