Ferrari: Malaysia pace provides renewed belief

Raikkonen came close to taking pole and redeeming some credibility on a mixed day for Ferrari

Raikkonen came close to taking pole and redeeming some credibility on a mixed day for Ferrari

Toto Wolff admits the Malaysia Grand Prix weekend was "very painful" for Mercedes due to a lack of pace, despite extending its lead in both championships.

So, too, it seemed were Mercedes themselves with the team attributing the unexpected pole position, secured by less than a tenth of a second over Kimi Raikkonen, to the "Hamilton factor".

"Yesterday both Ferraris could have won the race", he said. "I have a good feeling about it". Hamilton, meanwhile, will begin on pole. And that put him in prime real estate for a chance to win the 61st Formula 1 race of his career.

But the Canadian sounded baffled by that; he said he had been driving slowly back to pit lane, steering a normal line and going through switch changes.

Two races, two disasters.

Verstappen attacked Hamilton and passed him for the lead on lap 4.

"It's not my fault if someone decides to pick up rubber and hits another vehicle", said Vettel. "I am just trying to be smart with the decisions I make on track". "That's not a big problem if this kind of issue appears in our factory, but it's really ugly when you're in second place on the grid and you can't start the race". The start was definitely the best part of the day. "But not long after that I just started to drop down and couldn't keep up with the others". So Ricciardo finished third. He went from last to fourth. I didn't sleep very well last night as we didn't know if we would fix the issue. "I think if we start ahead then we win the race". "I don't really know what happened to Sebastian today". We had the quickest vehicle for the majority of the race in clean air. "We have a couple of days to try and understand". Their pace was behind Red Bull and Ferrari. Despite putting on an inspiring display of speed to master what Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff described as a "capricious" auto, he struggled for pace in Sunday's race. "But we managed to bring it home".

"When I went out everything was looking fine and suddenly in Turn 5 I lost power", Vettel said. "I hope not because it was completely unnecessary".

Stroll: "The race wasn't going on so it wasn't intentional for either of us".

The previous race in Singapore saw a dramatic shift in momentum atop the standings, with an imperious Lewis Hamilton emerging with a 28-point lead over Sebastian Vettel - who was left red faced after a controversial first corner incident. But what the Dutchman wishes for most now is a competitive vehicle after a hugely frustrating season so far.

One small crumb of comfort for Vettel is that, despite strong qualifying, Hamilton has only won once here - in 2014. There was fist-pumping galore in the garage and team principal Christian Horner was in awe.

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