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Max Verstappen victorious in Malaysia: “Great to win”

Published on 01 October 2017 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen has given himself the best possible birthday present ever by winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. Verstappen, who turned twenty on Saturday, had a decent start behind pole sitter Lewis Hamilton and was able to take the lead on lap four from the Mercedes-driver. In the remainder of the race, the Dutchman gradually increased his gap to his pursuers and was able to dominantly take his second victory home in his Formula 1-career. Lewis Hamilton came in second, almost over twelve seconds down. Daniel Ricciardo rounded up the festivities on the podium for Red Bull Racing by finishing third fastest.

On the podium, a very happy Max talks about his race: “With Raikkonen’s problem before the start there was one competitor less. The start was reasonable okay. After the first lap I was second and noticed that the car had a good balance. I also saw that Lewis was struggling with traction. Lewis has more to lose in the championship, so I used everything from my batteries and went for it in turn one. And from there on I could do my own race. The car was fantastic and I had the pace. If I needed to speed up, I just sped up. Of course I am super happy and we won it on raw speed as well. It was a tough race but great to win!”

Half way during the race, there were some concerned faces when Max reported on the radio that he was having some issues with his left front tyre. “I was having a bit too much understeer on my left front”, the Dutchman explains. “It is of course a tough track for the left front tyre. For the rears as well, from the heat over here, but you need to keep an eye on the left front tyre. I only wanted to share that with the team.”

For Max this victory is a boost given his disappointing season so far: “This victory came at a very good time, especially after this season, so I was really happy when I crossed the line. Together with my dad I came this far and of course I also got some great help from Red Bull and now I am here having Champagne. Certainly after such a difficult season, this is extra special.”

Max doesn’t have much time to celebrate his victory: “We’re heading off to Japan this evening already, so perhaps we need to tear down the airplane. Verstappen doesn’t want to make any predictions for Suzuka: “I find it difficult to say something about that. There we will need to start over again. We are hoping to have a good balance and we’ll take from there.”

Almost two-and-a-half hours before the race, the Heavens opened up above Sepang. But the track dries up very quickly and all drivers are able to start the race on the slicks. On his way to the grid, Kimi Raikkonen, starting from P2, runs into problems. “No power”, the Finn reports on the radio. On the grid, the Ferrari-mechanics are frantically working on getting Raikkonen’s car up and running again, but to no avail. Even before the formation lap, the unfortunate Finn is pushed back into the pits. This results in Max having only Hamilton in front of him at the start.

Verstappen has a good start and is able to follow Hamilton. Valtteri Bottas dives next to the Dutchman in turn one, but fails to pass him. The Red Bull’s race pace is quite excellent. Max inches up to Hamilton and attacks him on lap four. With his DRS, the Dutchman is able to take over the lead from Hamilton on the straight at start-finish. “That’s how we do it”, says Max on the radio.

On lap nine, Ricciardo demonstrates the speed of the Red Bull Racing RB13 by overtaking Bottas for P3. Sebastian Vettel, who started the race from the last position due to issues during qualifying, is at that moment in the points again. Verstappen has by now managed to increase his gap to Hamilton. On lap twelve, Max tops the leaderboard with a 1:36.474, the fastest lap at that moment. Hamilton’s deficit is already over five seconds.

Vettel cuts like a hot knife through butter in his Ferrari. The German manages to overtake Sergio Perez on lap 21 for the fifth position. Max’ lead on his pursuers is at that moment eight seconds when he reports on the radio that his left front is starting to give up.

On lap 25, Carlos Sainz and Esteban Ocon come into contact with each other, resulting in the Force India-driver spinning. The Frenchman is however able to continue his way on. On lap 27, Hamilton is the first driver, from the top five, to make his first stop. One lap later, Max heads in as well. The Dutchman changes his set of super softs for a set of the soft compound tyre. After a flawless stop, he rejoins in second. The new leader Ricciardo, still needs to do his stop. When he eventually does so on lap 30, Verstappen re-takes the lead with Hamilton trailing six seconds behind of him. Carlos Sainz reports that he has no power and the Spaniard exits the fight.

Verstappen runs into backmarkers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen on lap 39. As soon as Max passes the two drivers, Palmer spins and manages to barely miss the Dutchman. Vettel is meanwhile fast approaching Ricciardo who is third at that moment. But he is unable to pose a threat to the Ozzie.

Verstappen manages to increase his lead on Hamilton even more in the closing stages of the race to ten seconds. After 56 laps, the Dutchman takes the checkered flag, his second victory in his Formula 1-career. Lewis Hamilton comes in second, behind of him Ricciardo in third. Vettel manages to conclude his great catch-up race in fourth, while Bottas is fifth fastest. F1’s first timer Pierre Gasly, finishes fourteenth. After the finish, there is a peculiar incident involving Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel; Stroll hits Vettel causing the wheel of the Ferrari to brake off.

Malaysian Grand Prix - Sepang International Circuit - Sunday 1 October

01 33 Max Verstappen      Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer  	56 1:30:01.290
02 44 Lewis Hamilton      Mercedes                   	56 +12.770s
03  3 Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer  	56 +22.519s
04  5 Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari                    	56 +37.362s
05 77 Valtteri Bottas     Mercedes                   	56 +56.021s
06 11 Sergio Perez        Force India Mercedes       	56 +78.630s
07  2 Stoffel Vandoorne   McLaren Honda              	55 +1 lap
08 18 Lance Stroll        Williams Mercedes          	55 +1 lap
09 19 Felipe Massa        Williams Mercedes          	55 +1 lap
10 31 Esteban Ocon        Force India Mercedes       	55 +1 lap
11 14 Fernando Alonso     McLaren Honda              	55 +1 lap
12 20 Kevin Magnussen     Haas Ferrari               	55 +1 lap
13  8 Romain Grosjean     Haas Ferrari               	55 +1 lap
14 10 Pierre Gasly GAS Toro Rosso                 	55 +1 lap
15 30 Jolyon Palmer       Renault                    	55 +1 lap
16 27 Nico Hulkenberg     Renault                    	55 +1 lap
17 94 Pascal Wehrlein     Sauber Ferrari             	55 +1 lap
18  9 Marcus Ericsson     Sauber Ferrari             	54 +2 laps
NC 55 Carlos Sainz        Toro Rosso                 	29 DNF
NC  7 Kimi Räikkönen      Ferrari                    	0  DNS