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Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton for Malaysia win, Sebastian Vettel fourth

SEPANG, Malaysia -- Max Verstappen's streak of horrendous luck has finally come to an end with the Dutchman claiming the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while Sebastian Vettel turned in a thrilling recovery drive from last to fourth.

A day after turning 20 years of age, Verstappen, starting third, took advantage of a pre-race retirement to Kimi Raikkonen to win his second career grand prix and the final Formula One race to be staged in Sepang. However, it was Vettel slicing his way through the field to keep his championship aspirations alive who arguably earned driver of the day honours.

Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on lap four to win the Malaysian Grand Prix. Lars Baron/Getty Images
Ferrari's horror weekend took another turn for the worse before the race had got underway with Raikkonen suffering a suspected engine failure on his way to the grid. The Finn, who was set to start alongside Hamilton on the front row, was wheeled back into the pits and never returned to the track - effectively handing Verstappen second place at the start.

While Hamilton was busy complaining of a "derate" issue on lap four, the Dutchman, aided by DRS, seized his opportunity and pulled off a bold pass up the inside of the Mercedes into Turn 1. Once in front he was never troubled and eased the gap out to 10 seconds, a margin which remained over Hamilton until the checkered flag.

Despite Hamilton's pole position, Mercedes hadn't looked comfortable all weekend in Malaysia's humid conditions and throughout the race both cars seemed to struggle to match the pace of the Red Bulls.

Of the frontrunners, Ricciardo lost out the most from the pitstop phase. Red Bull opted to keep the Australian out for four laps longer than his teammate but when he re-joined his five second deficit to Hamilton had grown to over 18, ruling the team out of a one-two finish and bringing him closer to the charging Vettel.

The four-time world champion produced a stunning recovery drive from last having moved himself up to P13 by the end of the first lap and into the top five by the midpoint of the race when he took on the faster supersoft tyre. He was able to jump Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas during the stops and closed to within a second of third-placed Ricciardo with ten laps remaining. The former teammates battled hard for the final podium position before Vettel's older tyres eventually gave in and the German was forced to settle for fourth.

Bottas made a lightning start from fifth on the grid to be side-by-side with Verstappen on the exit of Turn 1, but like in qualifying, he struggled and finished 44 seconds off his teammate in fifth.

Sergio Perez finished sixth for Force India, an impressive result given he had been racing all weekend with a virus. McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne enjoyed another strong outing to finish seventh for the second race in succession ahead of the Williams pair of Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa. Esteban Ocon -- who earlier tangled with Massa -- rounded out the top ten.

In a rare occurrence, Fernando Alonso was unable to unlock teammate Vandoorne's pace in the McLaren and finished in P11, one place ahead of Haas' Kevin Magnussen. The pair made contact during the race but both were able to continue to finish in front of Romain Grosjean.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly finished 14th in his F1 debut, holding off the Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Nico Hulkenberg but it was a disappointing afternoon for teammate Carlos Sainz who joined Raikkonen in retirement after encountering an engine issue of his own.

Up until Sepang it had been a lean season for Verstappen who had scored just one podium in 2017 and trailed teammate Ricciardo by 96 points in the drivers' standings.

Formula One next heads to Suzuka, Japan for the 16th race of the season.

Author: Jake Michaels, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20876340/max-verstappen-beats-lewis-hamilton-malaysia-win-sebastian-vettel-fourth

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