Famous Five... Malaysian Grands Prix

04 October, 2017, 00:32 | Author: Anita Tucker
  • Famous Five... Malaysian Grands Prix

Hamilton had been off the pace all weekend in practice but his Mercedes stormed back in qualifying to set a lap record of 1min 30.076sec, a whisker ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Sunday's race begins at 11am UAE time.

After climbing through the field to challenge for the podium - closing down Hamilton at a second per lap for the majority of the second half of the race - Vettel said: "Well, I think we are quicker".

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

The Briton will not need to win another race this year if he triumphs on Sunday with Vettel lower than second or if he outscores the German by more than seven points.

Dwindling support from both spectators and local government means the Malaysian Grand Prix will drop off the calendar after this year.

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But retired champion Nico Rosberg recovered to third previous year after a spin at the start dropped him to the back of the field.

Hamilton trailed Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel throughout the opening half of the campaign, but pulled three points clear courtesy of his triumph in Italy. It cost Hamilton valuable points.

Verstappen has only finished eight of the 15 races so far this season.

But, even with Vettel out of contention it did not come easy, with Mercedes having struggled all weekend to extract pace from their vehicle.

Hamilton's frustration was such that he pointed the finger at his own team, hinting at foul play and stopping just short of accusation.

With less than 10 minutes before qualifying, Ferrari's mechanics hurriedly wheeled Raikkonen's vehicle back to the garage.

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Though he appeared comfortable with the changes his team made to his auto ahead of FP3, Hamilton said the time constraint between that session and qualifying was the only reason he did not move back to the upgraded package Bottas had stayed with.

"It's a surprise to be up here".

Verstappen took third for Red Bull on his 20th birthday, with his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.

"I hope not because, as I said, it was completely unnecessary", said the four times world champion after hitching a ride on Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber back to the pits. He made a sloppy error of judgment heading into Turn 1, taking out his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Verstappen - both of whom could realistically have denied Hamilton a podium finish and crucial points.

Hamilton made a clean start - although with no vehicle next to him on the front row that was hardly difficult.

The 21-year-old, being evaluated as a permanent replacement for Renault-bound Carlos Sainz for next season, outpaced the Spaniard who was 16th.

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