More ground lost to Lewis Hamilton for Sebastian Vettel at the Malaysian Grand Prix – but reasons to be cheerful?

Lewis Hamilton’s second place at the Malaysian Grand Prix coupled with Sebastian Vettel’s fourth meant that the Brit extended his lead in the World Drivers’ Championship to 34 points.

But that doesn’t begin to tell the story of this and indeed the previous race in Singapore.

Vettel missed the last ever qualifying at the Sepang International Circuit, despite an attempt at an installation lap, due to a Power Unit issue.

Consequently, he started last while Hamilton started pole. Hamilton himself was meant to be flanked by Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

That never happened as the Finn’s turbo failed and he never even made it to the grid.

Game over?

Well, no.

Red Bull have put themselves back into the reckoning over the previous two races, with Daniel Riccardo close in Singapore and Max Verstappen also back on the pace.

Verstappen was quick all weekend in Malaysia and, once past Hamilton in the early stages of the race, simply disappeared into the distance.

While all this was going on, Vettel was making his way up the order and the off-colour Valtteri Bottas was easily dealt with. A late attack on Ricciardo for third was eventually blunted, but the race was a show of force from Ferrari that still has Hamilton worrying.

Singapore and Malaysia are two completely different circuits, and despite the results, Ferrari have shown themselves to be considerably quicker at both of them.

For Vettel, that form will have to carry on over the last five races, not least because of a possible grid penalty for a potential gearbox change after a bizarre post-race collision with Lance Stroll’s Williams.

As for the title race, don’t count your chickens just yet.

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