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06 Octubre 2017, 12:14 | Gervasio Siguenza
Hamilton stormed to his fourth consecutive Malaysian Grand Prix pole position on Saturday
That may just be wishful thinking on the part of Ferrari fans stunned by their team's recent implosion - both drivers colliding at the start in Singapore and then handicapped by power unit problems in Malaysia.
Sebastian Vettel had one of his strangest experiences as a Formula One driver on Sunday, as he finished the race having to hitch a lift back to the pits with Pascal Wehrlein. However Hamilton was on course to win the 2016 Malaysian GP when Mercedez only race ending engine failure of 2016 forced him out and put a big dent on his chances of winning the F1 title.
This time he is riding a run of good fortune, with an opening lap crash for Vettel in Singapore dealing the German a significant setback in a race that the Briton went on to win. In performance terms that race was a blip - a flawless storm that prevented Ferrari from showing its true pace, second-best though it still would have been - but it will be recorded in the yearbook as the beginning of a costly decline.
"On paper the Ferrari is the fastest auto, followed by the Red Bull and then us", the Austrian had observed after qualifying. Vettel's pace in Malaysia should similarly stand the team in good stead this weekend.
However, in a odd twist of fate, Raikkonen's vehicle developed mechanical problems on the formation lap and the plan changed to having the Finn start from the pit lane.
Mercedes extended the lead over Ferrari s in the constructors' championship to 118 points.
Verstappen capped a fairytale 20th birthday weekend in Malaysia with his second Formula One victory, as Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo took third.
Vettel shot from 19th at the start to 12th by the second lap.
"Reliability is coming into play but also driving mistakes are coming into play as well". Valtteri Bottas' drop-off in form could leave Hamilton without an effective rear-gunner for the run-in, meaning Kimi Raikkonen's own performances in the final rounds could be crucial in determining how the championship is looking at the end of October.
If this deal does go ahead, it raises the question, what happens to Bottas? "Lewis extracted the maximum in qualifying, benefitting from cooler temperatures and on one lap he is a real force", he said. Ricciardo, however, had more durable tyres.
Verstappen maintained his lead to take the chequered flag with Hamilton grabbing 18 points in second position.
Motorsport.com reports that officials declared Shepard the race victor in the provisional results, but that they later made a decision to call the race after five laps because the final few were so odd.
There could be a further twist for Ferrari at the high-speed Japanese circuit as the German faces a possible five-place grid penalty if he needs a new gearbox after a collision with Lance Stroll'sWilliams following Sunday's race. He left with an even wider 34-point deficit after staging a nonetheless remarkable recovery from dead last to fourth.
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