Ferrari, Mercedes in '£20m-a-year battle' for Verstappen

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Hamilton was never near the Dutchman, and Verstappen even increased his lead as Hamilton eased off to save his tires at the end of the race.

The German may be 34 points adrift with five races remaining but his strong showing will give him confidence as he revealed only excessive wear of his tyres prevented him attacking for a place on the podium.

Vettel is fine and his vehicle looked a lot worse than it actually was, but it's something you rarely see: drivers finishing a race, then going around for another lap before entering the pit lane, and crashing on that lap.

"At the end I was on the in lap, on my normal line, picking up rubber, doing all my switch changes, shutting down the auto and Sebastian came flying by me, pushing round the outside like the race was still on", said Stroll.

Vettel set the fastest lap and a lap record on his charge through the field on Sunday even as Mercedes struggled for the second weekend in a row with a vehicle described by team boss Toto Wolff as "capricious".

His remarkable recovery drive to fourth, combined with Hamilton being beaten by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, meant Vettel limited the damage to six points.

Ricciardo inherited the lead, but relinquished it to Verstappen, who led Hamilton by around nine seconds, when he pitted two laps later. Redbull's Max Verstappen overtakes Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the race.

The Dutchman had a lot of bad luck with vehicle problems and crashes earlier in the season and failed to finish in more than half of his events. On Sunday, though, his luck held as he ran away in the lead.

"I think we had the pace on all the cars", Horner said. I was very happy when I crossed the line and, together with my dad, I got this far.

Ferrari's other driver, Kimi Raikkonen, was not able to start because of a suspected turbo problem.

He was pushed back to the pit and the race was over before it had even begun for the former world champion, who had enjoyed his maiden win at Sepang in 2003. Vettel's gearbox was damaged in a weird collision between Vettel and Lance Stroll's Williams on the slow down lap after the race. The German's auto was severely damaged in the incident.

With five races left to this season, Hamilton has a firm grasp on that title. Nevertheless, he underlined Ferrari's raw speed, setting the fastest lap and a new lap record as he charged through the field.

Force India's Sergio Perez finished sixth, a shade above McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne, who managed to match his best F1 result by finishing in seventh. "I don't think we had the pace". "We have to keep pushing". A total of 110,604 spectators went to Sepang International Circuit over the three days of practice, qualifying and Sunday's race.