Verstappen beats Hamilton to win Malaysian Grand Prix

Autosport

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.

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 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 rectify it, it was 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, 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 Finn 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 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 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 relinquished it 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 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 pace 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 11th 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 16th.

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 14th in his first grand prix.

Malaysian GP result

POSDRIVERCARLAPSGAP
1Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault561h30m01.290s
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes5612.770s
3Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault5622.519s
4Sebastian VettelFerrari5637.362s
5Valtteri BottasMercedes5656.021s
6Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes561m18.630s
7Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda551 Lap
8Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes551 Lap
9Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes551 Lap
10Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes551 Lap
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda551 Lap
12Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari551 Lap
13Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari551 Lap
14Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Renault551 Lap
15Jolyon PalmerRenault551 Lap
16Nico HulkenbergRenault551 Lap
17Pascal WehrleinSauber/Ferrari551 Lap
18Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari542 Laps
Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault29Electrical
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari0Not started

Drivers’ standings

POSDRIVERPOINTS
1Lewis Hamilton281
2Sebastian Vettel247
3Valtteri Bottas222
4Daniel Ricciardo177
5Kimi Raikkonen138
6Max Verstappen93
7Sergio Perez76
8Esteban Ocon57
9Carlos Sainz48
10Nico Hulkenberg34
11Felipe Massa33
12Lance Stroll32
13Romain Grosjean26
14Stoffel Vandoorne13
15Kevin Magnussen11
16Fernando Alonso10
17Jolyon Palmer8
18Pascal Wehrlein5
19Daniil Kvyat4
20Marcus Ericsson0
21Antonio Giovinazzi0
22Pierre Gasly0

Constructors’ standings

POSCONSTRUCTORPOINTS
1Mercedes503
2Ferrari385
3Red Bull/Renault270
4Force India/Mercedes133
5Williams/Mercedes65
6Toro Rosso/Renault52
7Renault42
8Haas/Ferrari37
9McLaren/Honda23
10Sauber/Ferrari5

Verstappen beats Hamilton to win Malaysian Grand Prix

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