Max Verstappen overcame a season of frustration to claim his second F1 win at the Malaysia GP from Lewis Hamilton, as Sebastian Vettel recovered from last place to fourth.
Hamilton increased his world title lead, but only by six points to 34, as Vettel scythed his way through from the back row in a spirited recovery drive.
And the Mercedes driver had the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo to thank for keeping Vettel off the podium as the Ferrari failed to overtake his former team-mate in the closing stages.
But, in a highly bizarre and unusual finish to his afternoon, Vettel collided with Lance Stroll’s Williams on the slow-down lap. The impact ripped off the Ferrari’s right-rear wheel, with the German stopping on track and forced to hitch a lift back to the pits with Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein.
The stewards have placed the incident under investigation.
Sky F1’s Martin Brundle described it as “one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen” and suspected the damage may require Vettel to take new gearbox for next weekend’s Japanese GP, which would likely trigger a grid penalty.
Verstappen was dominant and won by 10 seconds after overtaking Hamilton on lap four into Turn One.
The Dutchman, who turned 20 on Saturday, has been dogged by race retirements in 2017 and his only previous podium came at the Chinese GP in April.
It represents Red Bull’s second win of the season and their second in a row at Sepang, as the Malaysian circuit bows out of F1 after 19 seasons on the calendar.
Despite a strong start, when he overtook Ricciardo around the outside into Turn One and nearly Verstappen too, Valtteri Bottas’s weekend-long struggles continued and he finished a distant fifth – 53 seconds behind the winner.
Sergio Perez drove a strong race to fifth, with McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne capping a fine weekend with his second seventh-place finish in a row.
Williams pair Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa were eighth and ninth respectively, ahead of Esteban Ocon who pitted early after lap-one contact with Massa.
More to follow…