Max Verstappen won his second race of his Formula 1 career in Malaysia by beating Lewis Hamilton and Australian team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo in an exciting race. The Dutchman topped FP1 and showed good pace throughout the sessions on Friday and Saturday. Hamilton took pole position with Kimi Raikkonen locking out the front row and the two Red Bulls securing row number two for the start. Sebastian Vettel was looking a little lonely at the back of the grid due to DNF in qualifying on Saturday as he was unable to set a time.
Ferrari’s woes continued as Kimi Raikkonen had sudden car issues on the way to the grid stating he had no power which later showed it was turbo related. He was rolled into the pits in an attempt to fix the problem but there wasn’t enough time before the start. Unfortunately, the Finn had to retire before the race had even started, so the Scuderia had to rely on Vettel for some valuable constructor’s points which wouldn’t be easy to say the least. Hamilton had clear space next to him which he took full advantage of and made it cleanly down into turn one with no problems whatsoever. Max Verstappen held onto P2 as he battled with the second silver arrow in the form of Valterri Bottas. The McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne was able to get a good start and hold off Esteban Ocon to keep himself in P5. Max Verstappen pulled away from Bottas and was able to reel in Lewis Hamilton and put a move on the Brit going down into turn 1 and take the lead. The Dutchman was showing really good pace as Hamilton was unable to maintain the gap and dropped back from the #33 Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo was applying huge pressure to the back of Valterri Bottas and was able to make a move on the Finn on lap 9 after a heated battle through turns 1, 2 and 3.
There was some action further back with Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon coming together in turn 1. The Frenchman tried a move around the outside which looked to have worked but the Torro Rosso of Sainz appeared to understeer slightly and caused to the two to tangle and Ocon to spin. Sebastian Vettel was quietly coming through the field sitting in P5. The German was applying the pressure to Valterri Bottas on lap 26 but was unable to make a pass on the Finn. Bottas pitted three laps later for a set of fresh Pirelli Soft compound tires. Lewis Hamilton was setting the fastest lap of the race but still not able to catch the flying Dutchman out front. Vettel was able to jump Bottas in the pit stop window which moved the German up another place to reduce the gap to Hamilton as much as possible. Carlos Sainz retired on lap 30 with engine issues after running in a strong P7. It was a shame after his career best result in Singapore was going to be followed up by another good points-scoring finish but it was not meant to be.
Sebastian Vettel continued his fantastic charge and was all over the back of Ricciardo. The remaining Ferrari tried a move down the inside of the Australian into turn 1 but he was denied by a good defensive line and had to stay in P4. Max Verstappen was able to hold his advantage for the remainder of the race and take his second career victory and first of the season. Lewis Hamilton took P2 ahead of the second Red Bull of Ricciardo. A really impressive drive from Sebastian Vettel gave the German P4 after starting from the back of the grid. An interesting incident between Vettel and Stroll occurred on the in-lap when the two came together. Vettel blamed the Canadian and vice versa. Unfortunately for Vettel, Hamilton extends his lead at the top of the Formula One World Championship to 34 points going into the remainder of the season. With only a handful of races left, can the German fight back to take his fourth title?
The Malaysian Grand Prix was one of the more exciting races this season, with a new winner and some super drives throughout the field. Hopefully the season ends on a climactic note with plenty of action to come. Suzuka in Japan is the next stop for the Formula One field in just one week’s time. See you then!