Ferrari: Malaysia pace provides renewed belief

Posted October 04, 2017

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff believes the reigning world champions have problems to address going into the final five races of the 2017 Formula 1 season despite increasing their lead in both the Drivers' and Constructors' championships over title-contenders Ferrari in the last two rounds in Singapore and Malaysia.

F1.co.uk brings you a round-up of some of the top F1 stories in and around the last ever Malaysian Grand Prix...

Neither seemed to be happy, and it can only be explained in part by the grins at Red Bull Racing - located between Ferrari and Mercedes in the paddock - after Max Verstappen's dominant victory. "Red Bull might be able to get between Ferrari and Mercedes and add some pain in there".

The second Ferrari of Raikkonen had qualified second but the Finn did not make the start due to a battery issue - although Vettel is unconcerned by the reliability.

With Vettel starting last, the onus of keeping Scuderia's name in the limelight at Malaysia rested on Raikkonen.

"We were the quickest vehicle for the majority of the race", Vettel said. Hamilton lead from the start but was quickly asking his team about an issue with his power and by lap 4, he was passed all too easily by Verstappen, who quickly opened up a comfortable lead.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen won the race by 12 seconds after overtaking Hamilton, while Ferrari arguably had the weekend's fastest vehicle and would likely have beaten Mercedes too had Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen not run into engine problems over the weekend.

After years of building, following the takeover of Brawn GP by Mercedes-Benz, the team continue to enjoy success even with an overhaul in the regulations, which was supposed to neuter them.

Max Verstappen, celebrating his 20th birthday, was third. Whether Hamilton made his life easier or not, this was a rare moment: passes on the Briton don't come around very often.

Valtteri Bottas
GETTYValtteri Bottas has struggled to control his Mercedes in recent weeks

Knowing that a tussle with Verstappen could jeopardize his championship hopes and acknowledging the superior pace of the Red Bull, Hamilton did not even make an attempt to defend the pass.

Vettel and Bottas both have 10 podium finishes this season.

Vettel, 28 points behind Hamilton in the title race, lost drive on his first flying lap.

As if Ferrari's luck could not get any worse, Williams driver Lance Stroll later smashed into the side of Vettel's vehicle on the warm-down lap, cutting it nearly in half.

Daniel Ricciardo began his lap 9 pass of Valtteri Bottas by opening the DRS on the pit straight.

"On paper the Ferrari is the fastest auto, followed by the Red Bull and then us", the Austrian had observed after qualifying.

Owned by the Honda Motor Company, Suzuka represents a different challenge, with more high-speed corners than Sepang and high levels of tyre wear and degradation expected.

Vettel can take the 50th pole of his career, the fourth driver to do so.