The sun has set on the Sepang International Circuit, and the Red Bull Racing team made a fitting send-off to the Malaysian Grand Prix with a dominating win by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Betting odds were not that high on the Red Bull winning the final F1 race in Malaysia, especially after Lewis Hamilton put his name on top of betting websites with his 70th pole position. However, the team maintained their fantastic form from the practice and qualifying races to secure an outstanding 1-3 finish and surprise the online gambling community.
Meanwhile, Hamilton ended up second despite a favourable start that put his title rival Sebastian Vettel in the back row after failing to finish in the qualifying. Not to mention that Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who was supposed to start second on the grid behind Hamilton, was forced to retire before the fight even started due to an engine problem.
Hamilton only had the lead up until Lap 4 as Verstappen moved to the front and controlled proceedings with his fast race pace right there and then.
Mercedes’ struggles, which they showed during practice, were evident once again as Hamilton failed to mount a challenge and was instead left behind, with the 20-year-old Belgian cruising to victory by almost 10 seconds.
“I think in the beginning, the car felt good and I saw Lewis was struggling a bit more with traction, so I used my battery a bit more. He has more to lose than me in terms of the championship. From then on, I could race my own race. It’s a very tough race and it was incredible to win,” Verstappen said.
Another noteworthy battle was that of Ricciardo and Vettel, who used Ferrari’s strong power to come back from the dead and aim for a podium finish. The German ace managed to reach fourth and looked to overtake the Australian in the closing stages, but the pace of the other Red Bull driver was also too great, making him difficult to overcome.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas rounded up the Top 5 finishers, though he’s certainly disappointed he didn’t improve his standing despite Raikkonen’s early retirement.
The win marked Verstappen’s first title of the season, which already saw him retire in seven races. It’s also the Red Bull’s fifth title in eight years in Malaysia, having won it last year as well.
For Hamilton, meanwhile, it wasn’t the knockout blow he was hoping for, but he extended his Championship lead over Vettel to 34 points. The German though still has a chance if he can win or outpoint the Brit in Japan next week.
In the constructors’ standings, Red Bull improved their record with 270 points, but they are still far off from the top dogs Mercedes and Ferrari who have 503 and 385 points, respectively.
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