Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton bemoans Mercedes pace as Verstappen wins Malaysian GP

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On first reflection, Lewis Hamilton extending his championship lead to 34 points may seem like a job well done.

However, considering Hamilton started on pole and his rival Sebastian Vettel began at the back of the grid, only extending the lead by six points could come back to haunt him later on down the line.

Things got even better for the Championship leader before the start, with Kimi Raikkonen encountering an engine problem and failing to make the grid in the other Ferrari. That meant Hamilton had the front row all to himself and he easily held the lead into Turn 1.

His lead did not last long, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen staying within DRS range and soon closing in for a move on lap four.

When Verstappen made his move on the inside at turn one, Hamilton didn't appear to put up much of a fight in stopping the young Dutchman from advancing.

Despite increasing his lead over Vettel to 34 points, Hamilton has admitted Mercedes failed to fully capitalise on his title rival's demise.

"I think it's OK... I mean, considering [Vettel] started last it's not that great, to be honest," the Brit said, as per ESPN.

"We should have won today but we didn't have the pace. We knew going into the race that we didn't have the quickest car; our delta was Ferrari eight-tenths [of a second] faster than us, which they were, and the Red Bulls five, six tenths quicker than us, which they were.

"There wasn't really much I could do there and I really had to make a decision when Max was closing down, make the decision not to fight him and risk him crashing into me because he's going to give it everything, he's got nothing to lose whereas I have everything to lose. I didn't make it hard for him."

Mercedes surprisingly struggled at a circuit they were tipped to perform well at. However. Hamilton did suggest the car's performance improved when he switched to the soft compound tyre towards the end of the race.

When asked if he thought he had the pace to challenge Verstappen's lead, he added:

"No, not really. I think the end of the second stint was looking a little bit better but underlying the car was still having some big problems in some corners, I think Max was just managing the pace... so I don't think we had the pace."

Topics:
Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen
Formula 1

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