There was plenty of emotion as Formula 1 travelled to Malaysia for the 19th and final time; Sepang providing plenty of thrilling races throughout the years, right from its inaugural event in 1999.
2017 was no different, with Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen shrugging off his season of breakdowns in style, to storm to his second career win – as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton played it safe to claim second.
The action began before the start, with Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen suffering a power unit issue, that forced him off the grid at the last minute, leaving an empty slot on the front row.
At lights out, Hamilton led - while the two Red Bulls went wheel-to-wheel – allowing Valtteri Bottas to go around the outside into Turn 1, to take third - ahead of Ricciardo and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, starting from 20th due to a turbo failure in qualifying, made it to 12th by Lap 2 – while up-front Verstappen stayed close with Hamilton, the pair trading purple sectors, less than a second between them.
On Lap 4, with DRS enabled, Verstappen set his second-straight fastest lap to pass a battery-limited Hamilton for the lead into Turn 1.
The Dutchman then looked untouchable as he set a string of purple laps, the 20-year-old pulling out a 6.8 second gap by Lap 18.
On Lap 26, Hamilton pitted for softs, Verstappen a lap later, followed by Ricciardo on Lap 29. Vettel, who pitted with Verstappen, was then up to fourth – and desperate for a spot on the podium.
The German, desperate to keep his title hopes alive, set fastest lap after fastest lap to close within eight tenths of Ricciardo, but was on the limit in terms of fuel. And he dropped away from Lap 51.
It was Verstappen’s day, though, the Dutchman able to win the race at a canter – his pass on the conservative Hamilton an easy overtake, with the Brit forced to bank points for the drivers’ standings.
“He has more to lose than me in the championship so I went for it into Turn 1 and from there I could do my own race,” he said.
As broadcast on 03/10/2017.