Malaysian GP analysis: Max Verstappen deserves day at the front

Ricciardo threw himself into the action and quickly displayed his cocktail making abilities

It proved an astute decision as the final of his six completed laps propelled him up to third, but still two seconds adrift of Verstappen as the Red Bulls proved untouchable in the conditions.

The British driver had been off the pace all weekend in practice but his Mercedes stormed back in qualifying to set a lap record of 1min 30.076sec, which helped him qualify a whisker ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

"Globally we do not have not the best vehicle and we've done an exceptional job with what we have". "There are some really big problems which I can't really explain to you".

Both Red Bull and Ferrari were quicker than Mercedes for much of the weekend and, even though the team now head to the Japanese Grand Prix in a week's time in a stronger position, Hamilton admits there is work to be done on an inconsistent auto.

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Having brought upgrades to the race, Mercedes had been struggling to make their auto work and Hamilton did not believe they had performed as well as he expected. "We will try to make sure we do the first two corners well and go from there".

"These next races are going to be crucial in terms of finding out whether we can iron out some of the creases in the auto".

"It's impossible to say but I'm pretty certain that I would have had a very, very good vehicle". If he converts it into a victory today, with Vettel lower than second, or outscores the German by more than seven points, the 32-year-old won't need to win another race this season to clinch a fourth title. "The race is tomorrow not today".

BIRTHDAY BOY MAX Verstappen claimed the second victory of his career at the Malaysian Grand Prix, as Sebastian Vettel limited the damage caused by his qualifying nightmare. Hamilton, however, still accomplished what he came to do-extend his lead over Sebastian Vettel in the championship race, with Hamilton finishing second in Sepang and Vettel down in fourth place.

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With the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka within the week, teams rarely had any time on their hand to think about the results too much.

Earlier in the day, FP3 was dominated by Ferrari, with Mr. Raikkonen setting the fastest time ahead of Mr. Vettel, who's engine broke down at the end of the session and could not be replaced in time for a qualifying run.

The pair came together following the chequered flag, as both drivers went for the outside line in an attempt to pick up rubber on the cool down lap. "So I didn't make it very hard for him".

"At the end of the second stint it was looking a little bit better for us but the vehicle was still having big problems at certain corners and I think Max was just managing the pace". "I saw Lewis was struggling more with traction, so I used my battery a bit more".

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More importantly, Daniil Kvyat has just been abysmal since being demoted from Red Bull. I think he just didn't look. "Red Bull might be able to get between Ferrari and Mercedes and add some pain in there".

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