Formula One: Vettel smiling through the pain of qualifying last

Formula One: Vettel smiling through the pain of qualifying last

Formula One: Vettel smiling through the pain of qualifying last

As Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel swept to the fastest time in FP2, both Mercedes drivers were 1.4s off the pace, with Hamilton sixth and Bottas seventh.

A record four-time victor in Malaysia, Vettel desperately needs a fifth victory after his title hopes were dealt a severe blow at the last race in Singapore, where the German crashed out on the opening lap to clear the way for Hamilton to win. He has been in the mix in most F1 races this year, picking up one win with six other top-3 finishes. The lap time is reality.

But the 32-year-old will still be wary of Sepang, hosting its final race before Malaysia drops off the calendar, after last year's engine failure struck while he was leading from pole.

The German left the Ferrari garage during the first stage of qualifying but was unable to set a time and complained over team radio that his turbo was not working.

Vettel lost ground in the championship duel after crashing out at the start in Singapore last time out. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen waves after qualifying.

Raikkonen became 5/2 second favourite after qualifying with Verstappen available at 8/1 for the win. "Why that all happened, right now we don't know".

"I think it's open for anyone to have freedom of speech", Mercedes driver Hamilton said. I feel good, but we have some work to do with the auto. If we have any chance of seeing a great championship battle down the stretch, Vettel will need to close the gap this weekend.

"But there wasn't enough time so we ended up staying with it and also it was a risk changing the auto again before qualifying and maybe getting something wrong".

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"The lights went off, we did our start".

"I know Petronas has been able to showcase its involvement in F1, and as well as its brand as major national and multinational oil company", Najib said.

"I'm sorry for what happened to Sebastian but somehow we managed to turn it around and it is a real surprise to be up here with these guys".

Though he appeared comfortable with the changes his team made to his auto ahead of FP3, Hamilton said the time constraint between that session and qualifying was the only reason he did not move back to the upgraded package Bottas had stayed with.

He added: "We have to find out overnight what it is".

"Today we arrived and the auto was much better but still it looked like Ferrari was a little bit ahead, so some big calls to make ahead of qualifying". I'm developing a lot with this team and getting better. You always find some things to improve but the auto has behaved nicely all weekend.

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are complementing each other extremely well and as Ricciardo has quoted, Max brings out the best in him.

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