Malaysia: Lewis Hamilton 'sad' that Formula One is losing its 'toughest' race

Oct 01, 2017, 00:28
Malaysia: Lewis Hamilton 'sad' that Formula One is losing its 'toughest' race

Lewis Hamilton is 8/15 to win Sunday's Malaysia Grand Prix from pole position but title rival Sebastian Vettel must start from the back of the grid.

Hamilton, a three-time world champion, then produced a flawless performance to increase his standings lead over Vettel to 28 points with just six races remaining - starting at the Sepang International Circuit on Sunday.

Red Bull and Mercedes looked evenly matched through FP3, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing third ahead of the Silver Arrows of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in P4 and P5.

"We still have a tough race ahead of us", said Hamilton.

At least Raikkonen saved face, finishing just 0.045 seconds behind Hamilton's time. "It's great to see them performing so well and we want them to be closer".

"Today we had no idea how it was going to go and I am sorry for whatever happened to Sebastian because he was very quick through practice", Hamilton said.

Vettel's engine had already been changed to a new one before qualifying after a similar gremlin in final practice Saturday - only for the new unit to fail.

To make matters worse for Vettel, Hamilton took full advantage of the Ferrari driver's misfortune by claiming his fifth pole in Malaysia - matching the record of Michael Schumacher. "I think it is more a driver lap than the auto".

"Somehow we managed to turn it around and it is a real surprise to be up here with these guys", added Hamilton, who secured his ninth pole of the season at the last-ever running of the race.

He seemed set to claw back at least some of the points he lost in Singapore this weekend, with Ferrari displaying potentially race-winning pace and Mercedes struggling to extract speed from their challenger.

"It's been a decent day", Vettel told Sky TV. I hope our auto has moved in the right direction for the race run but we will see tomorrow.

"It's not ideal, not what you want when you think you've got it in you".

"You want every little millisecond you can get but there wasn't really enough time so we ended up staying with it and also it was kind of a risk, changing the vehicle again for qualifying and maybe getting something wrong. I was hopeful they would be quicker today but without a doubt tomorrow they will be on our tail".

"At the moment the vehicle is unbalanced and you slide all over the place, the fronts and the rears, you overheat them and then nothing goes any more".

"I know the ambitions of the team - but it is not like I am going into this weekend thinking that I will go out on the track helping Lewis".

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon both finished in the top 10 for Force India, taking P7 and P9 respectively, with Felipe Massa splitting the pair for Williams.

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