Hamil­ton widens gap but car causes con­cerns

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT -

LEWIS HAMIL­TON ex­tended his lead in the For­mula 1 world cham­pi­onship with a sec­ond-place fin­ish at the Malaysian Grand Prix, but his Mercedes team now head to Ja­pan with more ques­tions than an­swers.

Hav­ing pro­fessed sur­prise at putting his car on pole po­si­tion, Hamil­ton could not live with the race pace of Max Ver­stap­pen, who took the sec­ond vic­tory of his ca­reer as Red Bull won what could be the last race in Sepang.

But, with his main title ri­val Se­bas­tian Vet­tel start­ing last af­ter en­gine trou­ble on Saturday, Hamil­ton was able to open up a 34-point lead over the Ger­man, who fin­ished fourth in his Fer­rari.

Both Red Bull and Fer­rari were quicker than Mercedes for much of the week­end and, even though the team now head to the Ja­panese Grand Prix in a week in a stronger po­si­tion, Hamil­ton ad­mits there is work to be done on an in­con­sis­tent car.

“I don’t know what I’m able to say and not say as I don’t want everyone know­ing all of the prob­lems we do have,” he said.

“I think it is un­known at the mo­ment. We def­i­nitely have work to do that is for sure. It was the best I could re­ally do.

“There are def­i­nitely pos­i­tives in terms of the ac­tual re­sult we got. It was a bit for­tu­nate, a bit lucky for us.”

Talk­ing about his post-race dis­cus­sions with team-mate Valt­teri Bot­tas and Mercedes head of mo­tor­sport Toto Wolff, Hamil­ton said it was good to be able to ad­dress the is­sues head on.

“I feel pos­i­tive, the de­brief was one of the best de­briefs we have had. Pe­riod,” he added.

“It is of­ten the case that when you have a win there is not a lot to say and everyone is rid­ing on pos­i­tives.

“When you have a dif­fi­cult day, when the s**t re­ally hits the fan, that is when there are more ques­tions and you go into more de­tail.

“There is stuff you don’t even know about that has been hap­pen­ing through the week­end that is not ac­cept­able for this great team and we all know that and need to work on those ar­eas.”

Hav­ing started the week­end with such prom­ise, this was another grand prix to for­get for Fer­rari.

Kimi Raikko­nen had qual­i­fied sec­ond with Vet­tel side­lined, but he could not even make the start this time around as a bat­tery is­sue meant he was left in the garage.

Vet­tel fought valiantly from the back to take fourth and came close to a podium, but his week­end ended in farce as he was in­volved in a col­li­sion with the Wil­liams of Lance Stroll on the slow-down lap that saw his Fer­rari left with three wheels.

Ver­stap­pen, who cel­e­brated his 20th birth­day on Saturday, has been strong in qual­i­fy­ing all sea­son, but this was just his sec­ond podium of 2017 and the sec­ond vic­tory of his fledg­ling For­mula 1 ca­reer.

Hav­ing been vis­i­bly moved as the Dutch na­tional an­them played on the podium, he pointed to his early move on Hamil­ton as the turn­ing point.

“I think in the be­gin­ning the car felt good and I saw Lewis was strug­gling a bit with trac­tion,” he said.

“He (Hamil­ton) has more to lose than me in the cham­pi­onship so I went for it in turn one and from there I could do my own race.

“It is amaz­ing, a very tough race, but of course it is in­cred­i­ble to win.”


PODIUM PLAC­ING: Bri­tain’s Lewis Hamil­ton shows off his tro­phy af­ter his sec­ond-place fin­ish at the Malaysian Grand Prix be­hind Hol­land’s Max Ver­stap­pen. But the Mercedes driver re­vealed that the team has prob­lems with his car that have to be ad­dressed.

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