Hamilton fears Ferrari backlash in Japan

Ricciardo turns on the style by catching the bottle behind his back as Verstappen watches

Sepang - Sebastian Vettel fell further behind Formula One championship leader Lewis Hamilton after Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix but the Ferrari driver sees cause for optimism in the title battle.

"The whole race went well".

Verstappen, who turned 20 on Saturday, started the race behind Lewis Hamilton.

This is the last installment of the Malaysian Grand Prix, because the government will no longer be funding the event in the future.

Verstappen quickly pulled away, building a seven-second lead within 10 laps and, despite problems with his neck muscles in the closing laps on this demanding track, was always in control.

The race seemed destined to play out without any late drama, but while TV cameras followed Verstappen on his way to the win and his celebration lap, Lance Stroll made contact with Vettel, who ended up with one of his wheels on top of his vehicle.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen failed to take the start at Sepang and went back to the team's garage just before the race's beginning due to technical problems.

"We didn't have the pace here this weekend".

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'We have to maximise every opportunity we can get, we have put ourselves in the best position possible but we will keep our heads down and behind me it will just unfold the way it is going to unfold'.

Mercedes struggled for speed in Malaysia but Hamilton's title hopes were aided by reliability problems for Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo has made his intentions clear to Red Bull Racing ahead of his free agency next year.

The Dutchman is already the F1's youngest ever driver to win an F1 race at the Spanish GP in Barcelona previous year. Raikkonen then qualified in second place but was unable to start the race as he too suffered power unit trouble on the way to the grid.

"I think it's OK".

Mr. Hamilton now leads Mr. Vettel in the world championship race by 28 points.

"I'm absolutely delighted for Max", Horner told reporters after the race. "I think the end of the second stint was looking a little bit better but underlying the vehicle was still having some big problems in some corners, I think Max was just managing the pace.so I don't think we had the pace".

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

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