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Verstappen scores podium again in Malaysia, Red Bull one-two!

Published on 02 October 2016 by Mike Motilall

The Malaysian Grand Prix yielded another podium finish for Max Verstappen. In the blistering heat on the circuit of Sepang, the Dutchman came in second fastest. Due to a strategic and very clever first pit stop, our fellow countryman was also even briefly leading the pack. But it was Daniel Ricciardo who eventually ran away with the victory. Nico Rosberg finished third fastest and increased his lead in the world championship standings, as a result of Lewis Hamilton dropping out of the race with major engine problems.

“I fought for the victory the entire race”, says Max, who was also pronounced Driver of the Day, on the podium. “The race went reasonably well”, is what he added later on in the press conference. “The start was good this time and in the race we had a good pace, we drove some good stints the entire race. The virtual safety cars didn’t come out on ideal moments for me but in the end we can be very happy with a second place. It is a top result for the team.”

When the installation gets underway, Felipe Massa cannot get off the line due to an issue with his throttle. He is pushed back to the pits, so, after a reset, he will be able to start from there. At the start of the race, Sebastian Vettel gets the inside line of Max Verstappen but then hits Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes is sent spinning in a circle and ends up at the back of the grid. The Ferrari has to retire with a broken left front wheel. This briefly triggers a virtual safety car. As Vettel is unable to control his car, Verstappen gets pushed off the track and loses a number of positions.

Verstappen ends up behind of Jenson Button in sixth place, but the Dutchman overtakes the Brit a few corners later. At the re-start, after the virtual safety car, Max immediately snatches Kimi Räikkönen’s position. After that he makes little work of Sergio Perez in his Force India. This puts the youngster quite quickly in third, behind the likes of Hamilton and Ricciardo.

A second virtual safety car is triggered by Romain Grosjean, who, on lap nine, at the end of the straight, is sent in the gravel trap due to brake issues. Verstappen eagerly uses this to his advantage and pits. On the radio he says that he thinks that he is faster than Ricciardo and choses to run with a different strategy: he switches to a soft compound set of tyres and rejoins the pack in fourth.

Lewis Hamilton feels the pressure put on by the Dutchman running in fourth and immediately clocks the fastest lap time. Verstappen is second fastest on track and is therefore catching up with the numbers one and two. With a clear track in front him, he tops the timetable by being the fastest on lap fourteen. The following laps also, the Dutchman is constantly faster than his peers. He starts getting closer and closer to Räikkönen. However, they fail to get to a showdown, like we have seen previously during this season, because the Ferrari pits when Max was getting ready to make his move. Hamilton pits also, resulting in Max moving up to the second position. Ricciardo stops for the first time on lap 22 which puts Max in the lead now.

Hamilton is slightly faster on his new hard tyres than Max on his older set of soft compound tyres, but the gap is seven seconds. The lap times of the Red Bull-driver are very constant, nevertheless he decides to pit on lap 27 for a set of the harder compound tyres. He intends to go all the way to the end with them and rejoins the field in third. Five seconds behind of Ricciardo and four ahead of Räikkönen. The Dutchman is gaining on his team mate a few tenths per lap. On lap 40, both the Bulls clash! The Dutchman puts his car next to his team mate’s, but the Ossie is no push over. Corner after corner the team mates fight it out in a hard but fair fight. In the end, Ricciardo comes out on top. This proved to be a decisive move as the race gears up a notch.

Hamilton is on fire, quite literally, as he blows up his engine at the end of the straight. This triggers a third virtual safety car. Both Red Bulls pit one after the other for new tyres in order to secure the one-two. As Ricciardo was the first to pit, he gets a decisive lead for the remainder of the race. Rosberg who also pits, is handed a ten seconds-time penalty for causing a collision when overtaking Räikkönen too aggressively. This puts him outside of a podium finish. Esteban Guttierez loses his left front wheel and needs to retire from the race.

Then it’s a dash to the finish line, as Max starts gaining on his team mate. The gap is brought down to a second, but Verstappen is unable to put his team mate under any real pressure in the last five remaining laps. Eventually he secures his fifth podium finish in his career.

Malaysian Grand Prix - Sepang International Circuit - Sunday 2 October 

01  3 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer   	56 1:37:12.776
02 33 Max Verstappen      Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer   	56 +2.443s
03  6 Nico Rosberg        Mercedes                    	56 +25.516s
04  7 Kimi Räikkönen      Ferrari                     	56 +28.785s
05 77 Valtteri Bottas     Williams Mercedes           	56 +61.582s
06 11 Sergio Perez        Force India Mercedes        	56 +63.794s
07 14 Fernando Alonso     McLaren Honda               	56 +65.205s
08 27 Nico Hulkenberg     Force India Mercedes        	56 +74.062s
09 22 Jenson Button       McLaren Honda               	56 +81.816s
10 30 Jolyon Palmer       Renault                     	56 +95.466s
11 55 Carlos Sainz        Toro Rosso Ferrari          	56 +98.878s
12  9 Marcus Ericsson     Sauber Ferrari              	55 +1 lap  
13 19 Felipe Massa        Williams Mercedes           	55 +1 lap  
14 26 Daniil Kvyat        Toro Rosso Ferrari          	55 +1 lap  
15 94 Pascal Wehrlein     MRT Mercedes                	55 +1 lap  
16 31 Esteban Ocon        MRT Mercedes                	55 +1 lap  
NC 12 Felipe Nasr         Sauber Ferrari              	46 DNF  
NC 44 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes                    	40 DNF  
NC 21 Esteban Gutierrez   Haas Ferrari                	39 DNF  
NC 20 Kevin Magnussen     Renault                     	17 DNF  
NC  8 Romain Grosjean     Haas Ferrari                	7 DNF  
NC  5 Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari                     	0 DNF