Sebastian Vettel to avoid grid penalty as Ferrari give gearbox all clear

Frederick Owens
October 6, 2017

Hamilton's Mercedes did not have the pace of Red Bull or Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix but he managed to extend his F1 World Drivers' Championship lead thanks to Sebastian Vettel's qualifying disaster.

Hamilton may have salvaged a second place, but Mercedes was a long way off the competitive level it has become accustomed to over the past four years.

"One thing is clear - if Sebastian is still to win the title, he has to win in Japan".

"I had to really make a decision when Max was closing me down, to not fight him and risk him crashing into me, because he's going to give it everything - he's got nothing to lose, whereas I've got everything to lose", Hamilton said, as quoted by Sky Sports. I think there is a chance and we make sure we use it.

The young Dutchman was a definite crowd favourite who elicited cheers from the packed turn one grandstand every time he passed it.

"But it's cooler conditions, generally the hotter places we struggle a little bit more, so hopefully it'll bring it back more into our window".

"I'm under no illusion, I'm still hunting for (the title), I'm not defending it", he said. "There's so many points available and you've seen in other years how the pendulum can swing", added Hamilton. "I am hoping if it starts to swing the other way we have enough force to push it back to where it should be". Meanwhile, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo held onto third ahead of Vettel who charged through the field to finish fourth. The auto had been slower than both Ferrari and Red Bull for much of the weekend but, after storming to a surprising pole, Hamilton took 18 points which could prove vital come the end of the season.

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Vettel said he is "quite happy everything is OK" with his gearbox, after Ferrari analysis showed it was not damaged in his crash with Lance Stroll after the chequered flag in Malaysia.

"Obviously Max got the big one and drove well so congrats to him for the win; he drove strong all weekend".

Indeed inter-team rivalry at the top of the championship hasn't existed for a good while now, the Red Bull dominance directly followed by the Mercedes whitewash.

And Mercedes have not been able to rely on their own auto in the same way that they have in previous seasons with team boss Toto Wolff calling it a "diva", a term that Hamilton rejects.

"The team remained focused on its job throughout, putting in a great deal of effort working in the garage and then implementing an impeccable strategy", he said. We saw it on a Friday in Baku, for example, or on a Friday and Saturday in Budapest, where suddenly, when the track rubbers-up on a Sunday, the auto comes alive.

"I think the team find that with me maybe", he smiled.

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