Lewis Hamilton expects Sebastian Vettel backlash in Malaysian Grand Prix

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Grosjean seemed to take it in his stride.

The reigning GP2 champion replaces out-of-form Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso in Sepang as the 21-year-old Red Bull protege is put through his paces.

Having qualified on pole in Singapore, the stage was set for Vettel to retake the championship lead he had squandered for the first time in 2017. The Finn was on course to take pole from Hamilton until that error and ended up losing out by just 0.045 seconds.

Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen said on Thursday things have not been so bad for Ferrari despite it not winning in the last three Formula 1 races. I have a good feeling.

Verstappen celebrated his 20th birthday with a fine drive. Race director Charlie Whiting inspected the damage made by the loose drain cover.

“This opportunity is simply fantastic – I have been dreaming about this moment since I was a kid”. “I want to have a good Sunday, finally”.

Ricciardo added: “I think Mercedes were quite heavy today”.

Only six races remain in the 2017 season with Lewis Hamilton sitting comfortably at the top of the standings. Engineers changed the internal combustion engine as a precautionary measure after detecting an electronic malfunction on his vehicle.

“When I went out everything was looking fine and suddenly in Turn 5 I lost power”, Vettel said.

“We’ll try to get further than 100 meters tomorrow, and let’s see what we can do”.

Although the team managed to fit the new engine in time for qualifying, a turbo pressure issue meant Vettel was unable to complete a timed lap in Q1.

Vettel has looked like giving Hamilton a run for his money for much of the season but recent results have left him lingering.

The pre-existing contract for Malaysia was agreed with F1’s previous management, headed up by Bernie Ecclestone, but Razali said new owners Liberty Media “did not work hard enough for us to change our minds” about scrapping the race. If we have any chance of seeing a great championship battle down the stretch, Vettel will need to close the gap this weekend. He can ill afford another blip in Malaysia, where the intense heat and stifling humidity make it one of Formula One’s toughest races.

“When we first hosted the F1 it was a big deal”, tweeted sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin a year ago.

“It’s very bitter, but this is motor racing”, he said.

“I’m sorry what happened to Sebastian but we somehow turned it around, it is a real surprise to be up here with these guys. It’s very unfortunate for him”.

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Last year, Hamilton’s title hopes were dealt a severe blow when his engine burst into flames on lap 43 while the Briton was dominating the rest of the field in the Malaysian GP. He desperately needs a fifth on Sunday to prop up his now flagging title hopes.

Malaysia: Lewis Hamilton 'sad' that Formula One is losing its 'toughest' race

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