Lewis Hamilton on pole, Vettel last at Malaysian GP
04 October, 2017, 00:32 | Author: Anita Tucker
The gap between the pair is the biggest it has been all year and if Hamilton triumphs on Sunday, with Vettel lower than second, the Briton will not need to win another race to clinch his fourth title.
Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari was second fastest in qualifying and so will start alongside Hamilton on the front row.
"It's also a fact that we've got some issues with our power units because we have a young team, but also because the quality of the components is not at the right level for a race auto".
Back to the race on Sunday, the weather may well play an important part as it did previous year, when it was won by Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull. Nico Rosberg had been on pole position in his Merc.
Stroll: "The race wasn't going on so it wasn't intentional for either of us".
"I'm happy to be in third, I was struggling a lot with balance in P3", Verstappen Jr. said.
His father, the former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, looked emotional as his son stood on the podium.
It was Hamilton's fourth straight podium in Malaysia, fifth overall and seemingly one of the toughest.
Last year, Hamilton was cruising to victory in Sepang when his engine cut out late on and he retired.
The series will continue to have six races at every round, though will also introduce an "F4 National Championship" for each round.
Recently, Petronas, the title sponsor for the race and the Mercedesteam took home back to back to back driver and team titles.
"We had no idea what was going to happen today", said Hamilton. "We only have 12 hours to get it right".
Hamilton had failed to finish higher than fifth in practice but found some speed in qualifying.
Without Rosberg around, Hamilton's focus is clearer because it is geared toward an external rival in Vettel, rather than an internal opponent - making for a far healthier and manageable rivalry. "That was a weird one, for sure", said Vettel.
"When I went out everything was looking fine and suddenly in Turn 5 I lost power", Vettel said. "He's shunted into my vehicle". In a light-hearted moment, the German driver hitched a lift back to the paddock the novel way - by sitting on the side of countryman Pascal Wehrlein's Sauber.
Verstappen, who turned 20 on Saturday, has been strong in qualifying all season but this was just his second podium of 2017 and he put the win down to a courageous overtake on race-leader Hamilton at the start of lap four.
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Up until Sunday, however, his season had been blighted by engine problems. But organisers, who originally had a contract to host the race until 2018, have made a decision to call time on it a year early due to declining ticket sales, viewership and tourism. Like I said many, many question marks. "He did a fantastic job today". "Ultimately it is down on performance but thankfully it didn't make a difference".
"I opted to go on the inside".
"People probably might think that I am cracking a bit under that pressure", said Gasly. Similarly, Ricciardo managed to overtake Valtteri Bottas early on and held onto his position for the entirety of the race.
Bottas was optimistic the team could have a better Saturday.
Vettel drove like someone keen to defy the odds. At this point, Raikkonen was already in his shorts and walking back to the Ferrari motorhome.
Vettel caught Ricciardo on lap 46 but had only one look at passing, four laps later, as the Australian defended successfully.
"Not for a second am I thinking about that [the championship]", he said. "But he only had one attack".
"I think we are facing a hard day tomorrow, I think that's a fact".
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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. With less than 10 minutes before qualifying, Ferrari's mechanics hurriedly wheeled Raikkonen's vehicle back to the garage.
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