We would have beaten Vettel: Horner

Oct 04, 2017, 00:10

But Vettel's pace as he charged through to finish fourth, and the fact that Hamilton had no answer to the speed of race victor Max Verstappen, highlighted that Mercedes is going to face a challenge in the final five races of the season.

Having started the weekend with such promise, this was another grand prix to forget for Ferrari. It left his Ferrari with suspension damage and he hitched a lift on the side of the Sauber of compatriot Pascal Wehrlein.

Hamilton took pole against the run of play and his vehicle was slower than the Red Bull and Ferrari in the race. Vettel had started the race dead last after engine problems stopped him setting a time in Saturday's qualifying. But he could not even make the start this time around.

With five rounds remaining, Hamilton's worry is clearly that despite his healthy championship lead, there might be little Mercedes can do to ensure he has race-winning machinery at his disposal. We knew going into the race that we didn't have the quickest auto; our delta was Ferrari eight-tenths [of a second] faster than us, which they were, and the Red Bulls five, six tenths quicker than us, which they were. "Yeah, it's awesome. It's a very tough race but of course incredible to win".

Despite Vettel's effort, Lewis Hamilton extends his lead to 34 points in the World Drivers' Championship. He has been in the mix in most F1 races this year, picking up one win with six other top-3 finishes.

"We didn't have the pace here this weekend. If it rains I think we have a good opportunity".

Yet the mood after Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix was nearly despondent, despite Hamilton finishing in second place and Vettel fourth.

Yet Horner sees more similarities with Sebastian Vettel, a man who brought four world titles to Red Bull Racing. The problems have since been offset by the brilliant driving of Hamilton, who has managed to extract the most out of the auto and find extra pace in qualifying following tough practice sessions. Hamilton responded by pitting on lap 27 for the soft tyre, with Verstappen covering the undercut with the same move a lap later.

However, the stewards ruled that "neither driver was wholly or predominantly to blame" for the incident with Stroll, and BBC Sport understands Ferrari will not be able to claim "force majeure" as a reason to get a free gearbox change if one is necessary. If anyone can make it to the front from the back in this race, it is likely Vettel.

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