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Verstappen wins entertaining Malaysia GP

NEWS STORY
01/10/2017

Be it his crazy moment in Azerbaijan or his over enthusiasm in Singapore, Sebastian Vettel has made a bit of a mess of things at times this season.

Consequently, where better to find redemption than at Sepang, as F1 bids adieu to the country that first hosted a round of the world championship in 1999.

After all, if today's race can be even half as good as Brazil 2012, where Vettel made a remarkable recovery and thereby clinched his third title we could be in for a thriller.

With the need to work his way through the field providing one vital aspect of the script, it appears the weather gods may provide another.

Following typical Monsoon-like weather earlier the track remains damp and as a result the race is likely to see the drivers start on Inters. It is unclear whether there will be further rain, but as we know from experience here it shouldn't be ruled out, not at this time of year, not at this time of day.

Surely, not even the most ardent Lewis Hamilton fan wants to see Vettel left stranded at the back of the field today or just about scraping into the points, for such a scenario would effectively end the season with another five races remaining.

No, we want to see the German keep his car and championship on track with the kind of performance we know he can deliver. Indeed, even Hamilton admits to relishing his scraps with the four-time champ.

Nonetheless, the Briton will be focussed on only one thing today, getting his car home in front.

Out to spoil his hopes will be a host of other drivers, including Kimi Raikkonen and the Red Bull duo.

Again, much will depend on the weather, and if it is wet or even changeable, providing he and his car can keep away from trouble, Max Verstappen will be one to watch, after all what better way to celebrate his birthday.

Then again, despite regularly losing out to his teammate on Saturday's perhaps Daniel Ricciardo could add a second win.

And then there's Kimi, would anyone really begrudge The Iceman a win today, especially after his performance yesterday, not to mention his start in Singapore.

As for Valtteri, the Finn has gone off the boil a little of late, funnily enough since his contract was extended. So what better time to remind everyone what he can do.

To further add to the mix, despite that excellent Saturday, certainly for Hamilton, let's not forget that Friday was the "worst ever", according to Toto Wolff. Indeed, while Mercedes has shown it usual strong one lap pace here, its race pace throughout has been poor.

And as if all this wasn't enough, we have the madness that is the midfield, with Williams under increasing pressure from Toro Rosso, Renault, Haas and even McLaren looking to come up on the rails.

Having traced the root cause of Vettel's issues during qualifying to a cracked manifold that fed air from the compressor to the internal combustion unit, the Italian team has taken advantage of his grid position to issue him with a complete new power unit without penalty.

In 'normal' conditions, Pirelli was expecting today's race to be a one-stopper, though a two-stop strategy was also possible if it got warmer. Under the current conditions, the Italian manufacturer admits that anything is possible.

Despite the wide open nature of the Sepang track, let's not forget that the circuit has witnessed its moments over the years, and only last year Nico Rosberg and Vettel clashed at the first corner.

The pitlane opens and one by one the cars head out. Despite much of the track having dried, most are on Inters.

Air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 35 degrees. According to Race Control there is a 30% chance of rain during the race.

Drivers report that there are still some damp patches but that it is drying. Naturally, some drivers are hoping that the wet stuff returns.

Following yesterday's issues with Vettel, Ferrari's problems continue with Raikkonen suffering a late scare. Indeed, the crew is working on the rear of the car right up until the permitted time.

Sadly, seven minutes before the start, the Ferrari is pushed from the grid with the hapless Finn still in it. At the very best (!?!), Kimi will start from the pitlane.

"The rubber is gone from the track, so the start will be pretty hot," enthuses Nico Hulkenberg. "Turn 1 is going to be spicy."

All are on supersofts bar Wehrlein, Ericsson and Vettel who are on softs.

Raikkonen's move to the pitlane leaves Ricciardo with clear track ahead as the field looks to the first corner.

They head off on the warm-up lap, all getting away.

The grid forms.

They're away. Great start from Ricciardo who takes full advantage of the clear track ahead of him. Bottas also make a superb start and heading into T1 the Finn is alongside Verstappen with Ricciardo just behind.

On the outside in T1, Bottas is on the inside for T2 but on the outside in T3 again where Verstappen edges ahead. They continue to battle but the Mercedes cannot match the Red Bull or its driver's determination.

Further back the Force India duo is locked in battle with the Williams duo. In T3, it's classic three into one won't go as Perez holds his line, thereby forcing Ocon into Massa who spins as a consequence. Ocon, who blames "checo" for the incident appears to lose his endplate.

Also at T3, the Toro Rossos send Grosjean wide as they battle for track position.

As Hamilton leads Verstappen, Bottas and Ricciardo, Vettel is up to 17th and all over the back of Palmer. As the German passes the Renault, further ahead Hulkenberg runs wide.

While Palmer is now under pressure from the Toro Rosso duo, Vettel passes Hulkenberg who appears to be struggling.

"The Toro Rosso is moving all over the **** place," complains Grosjean of Gasly. "These new guys, they need to learn!"

At the end of lap 2 Ocon pits, the Force India seemingly suffering a puncture after contact with Massa earlier.

From out of nowhere, Verstappen makes his move and passes Hamilton into T1 for the lead. Moments later, Ricciardo begins his assault on Bottas.

Now in 11th, Vettel hunts down Alonso, the man he fought and beat for the title back in 2012 in that epic race in Brazil.

Hamilton suggests his 'D-rates' might be an issue. That team assure him this is not the case.

After 5 laps, Verstappen leads Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, Vandoorne, Perez, Stroll, Massa, Magnussen and Alonso.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Sepang, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Kemawi, 02/10/2017 16:21

"Verstappen wins entertaining Malaysia GP.....
That was entertaining?? God I miss the 70's...... and the 80's!! :(
"

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Spindoctor, 02/10/2017 12:11

"Two McLarens finished...."

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