Malaysian GP: Verstappen wins from Hamilton, Vettel fourth

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Malaysian GP: Verstappen wins from Hamilton, Vettel fourth
By: Lawrence Barretto
Oct 1, 2017, 8:41 AM

Max Verstappen took his first victory of the Formula 1 season with a dominant drive in the final Malaysian GP, as Sebastian Vettel recovered from starting last to take fourth.

Start action
Start action, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08 leads
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13 and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13, passes Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W08
Lance Stroll, Williams FW40, battles Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13 leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Start action
A jet flies over the pit straight ahead of the start

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

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 engine, hunted Ricciardo down in the closing laps, but had his challenged cooled when his team told him to back off because of concern over engine temperatures.

In a bizarre incident on the slow-down lap, Lance Stroll crashed into Vettel, causing significant damage to the left rear of Vettel's Ferrari.

"That's impossible," said Vettel on team radio. "Stroll's not looking where he's going."

Stroll told his team: "Vettel just drove into the side of me."

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 before the start as Kimi Raikkonen, who was due to start second, suffered a turbo problem, and though the team tried to rectify it, they were unable to do so before the race began, forcing him into retirement.

Hamilton got away cleanly from pole, with Verstappen holding off a fast-starting Valtteri Bottas to take second, with 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 teammate Ricciardo hustled Bottas, getting alongside around the outside of Turn 1 and though the Finn held on around the outside of Turn 2 to get the place back, Ricciardo has the momentum to pass into Turn 4.

Further back, Vettel was making strong progress, climbing up to 12th by lap two and eighth 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 supersofts 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 relinquished it to Verstappen, who led Hamilton by around nine seconds, when he pitted two laps later.

Verstappen rolled the pace at the front to take victory, with Ricciardo gradually closing the gap to Hamilton but running out of laps to get close enough to launch an attack.

Vettel ran as high as fourth, before dropping back to sixth after his stop. The German than fought back up to fourth and had a look at a pass on Ricciardo only to have the door slammed shut.

The Ferrari driver's challenge subsequently wilted in the closing stages and he ended up fourth.

Bottas finished a lonely fifth 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 did not have the pace to match Vettel and Perez and ended up seventh for the second successive race.

Lance Stroll was eighth, ahead of teammate 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 teammate Perez at the start, leading to him picking up a puncture.

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

Renault's Jolyon Palmer had a scrappy race, including two spins in close succession, the second of which was the result of contact with Kevin Magnussen, and ended up 15th, one place ahead of teammate Nico Hulkenberg.

Sainz was running in the points when he was forced to retire with an engine problem, while rookie Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly finished 14th in his first grand prix.

ClaDriverChassisEngineTime
1 netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 1:30'01.290
2 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 12.770
3 australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 22.519
4 germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 37.362
5 finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 56.021
6 mexico Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 78.630
7 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Honda 1 lap
8 canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 1 lap
9 brazil Felipe Massa  Williams Mercedes 1 lap
10 france Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 1 lap
11 spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Honda 1 lap
12 denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 1 lap
13 france Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 1 lap
14 france Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Renault 1 lap
15 united_kingdom Jolyon Palmer  Renault Renault 1 lap
16 germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 1 lap
17 germany Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber Ferrari 1 lap
18 sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 2 laps
Ret spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso Renault
NS  finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari -
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