Red Bull’s Max Verstappen earned for himself a big 20th birthday present by winning the final Malaysia Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur. The Dutchman made a lap 4 manouvre on polesitter Lewis Hamilton stick to run away with the victory, the Briton settling for second ahead of the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton extends his championship lead to 34 over rival Sebastian Vettel who made a great recovery from P20 to finish fourth but was the only Ferrari car to start the race. The Maranello-based team’s weekend which was rocked on Saturday with engine complications on Vettel car, went from bad to worse as Kimi Raikkonen had issues with his turbo minutes before lights out.
The Finn’s car was wheeled off the grid by the mechanics and could not join the rest on track. As if that was not enough, Vettel and the Williams of Lance Stroll bizaarely collided post-race during the in-lap with his SF70H badly damaged.
Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes finished fifth followed by Force India’s Sergio Perez and Stoffel Vandoorne repeating his P7 finish in Singapore for McLaren. Double points for Williams with Stroll followed by teammate Felipe Massa and Esteban Ocon.
Fernando Alonso missed out on the points in P11 ahead of the two Hass drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean. Pierre Gasly on his F1 debut finished 14th for Toro Rosso, behind him were the two Renault cars of Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg followed by the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson. Apart from Raikkoned who did not start the race, Carlos Sainz was the only retiree due to mechanical issues.
Mercedes now on 503, have opened a 118 point lead in the Constructors Championship with Ferrari on 385. Red Bull have 270, Force India on 133 and Williams stay fifth on 65 points. Toro Rosso have 52, Renault 42, Haas 37, McLaren 23 and Sauber are last with just 5 points.