Max Verstappen cruised to victory at the final Malaysian Grand Prix, after beating Lewis Hamilton on pure pace, after cruising past the early race leader during the first half of the race. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel made a super recovery from the back of the grid, and just missed out on the podium.
Verstappen beat Hamilton to the final Sepang glory, meanwhile Ricciardo in third did brilliant to fend of a charging Vettel to come home in the final podium place. Meanwhile, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had another difficult afternoon, and could only finish in fifth – and well adrift of the leaders.
Story of the session
Ferrari’s problems compounded before the race even started, as Kimi Raikkonen was removed from the front row due to a turbo issue before the race even got underway.
As the lights went green, Hamilton got away well, whilst fifth place Bottas got a flyer and jumped up to third place by the end of the first lap.
Making Ferrari’s south-east Asia less of a horror, Vettel made a flyer start from the back of the grid and was up to eleventh, whilst on lap 4 Hamilton experienced problems with his de-rates as Verstappen took the lead from Hamilton.
Meanwhile further down the field, after Vettel’s great start, he couldn’t make progress on the soft tyres, as he was stuck behind the Honda powered McLaren of Alonso.
On Lap 9, Ricciardo made it a Red Bull 1-3, as Ricciardo pulled off a stunning move of Finn Valtteri Bottas.
Concerned brewed at Mercedes, as Hamilton was slower than both Red Bull’s, as the team focussed on the implications of Vettel fighting through the field, as Verstappen was pulling some one second a lap faster.
The undercut window proved successful, as the two Williams almost caught Vandoorne, who was running as high as fifth during the opening stages of the grand prix.
By Lap 21, Vettel boomed up to fifth place ahead of Perez, with just the Mercedes and Red Bull’s ahead.
As Bottas started to hold Vettel up, Hamilton and Mercedes saw this chance to pit Hamilton, which meant the Brit came out in front of Vettel and Bottas. The following lap, Vettel bailed out of the soft tyres, which saw Bottas pit the following, as Vettel got the undercut and into net fourth place.
As the lap counts reduced, Vettel put the gremlin down and soon set a new absolute lap record at the Sepang International Circuit, as he continued to take a second a lap of third place Daniel Ricciardo. On lap 42, Vettel set a 1.34.0, as he chased the top two.