The final grand prix at Sepang ended with one of the better races of 2017. Birthday boy Max Verstappen got past championship leader Lewis Hamilton early on and never looked back. It looked as if a Red Bull one-two was on the cards at the midpoint of the race, with Ricciardo getting with in 4 seconds of the Brit. Vettel made a charge late on before some stubborn defending by Daniel Ricciardo mixed with some luck meant that the Aussie rounded out the podium.
Could Lewis Hamilton have won?(2nd)
Hamilton started the race in pole position before being passed by the flying dutchman in the early part of the race. He then managed to keep Ricciardo at bay as the Australian never got within striking distance. It seemed that both the Mercedes cars were slower than usual with Valtteri Bottas failing to light up the timing charts throughout the day. Hamilton was unable to get away quickly at the start to create a buffer between him and Verstappen, which gave the young dutchman an opportunity to overtake him as soon as the DRS was available.
After that he ran his own race, neither challenging Verstappen nor being challenged by Ricciardo. Even though he was unable to win, he did manage to extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 34 points.
Could Daniel Ricciardo have won?(3rd)
Daniel Ricciardo drove a solid race in Sepang to pick up his eighth podium of the season, but will he see this as a missed opportunity for his sixth win in Formula 1? After a mediocre start Ricciardo dropped back to 4th place behind Bottas and was unable to overtake him until the eighth lap. As Bottas was considerably slower, Hamilton was able to build a ten second gap by the time Ricciardo got past. He then got to within four seconds of Hamilton before a strange decision to keep him out for four laps more than his competitors put his chances of a top 2 finish to bed.
Following his stop he was 12 seconds behind Hamilton and 20 seconds behind his teammate, despite being 12 behind before Verstappen pitting. He did manage to hold up a rampaging Sebastian Vettel in the final laps to secure the podium in what was the best weekend Red Bull have had since the 2016 Malaysian GP. Suzuka should be another opportunity for Red Bull with the high speed corners suiting the setup of their car.
Do you think Hamilton or Ricciardo could have won today? Let us know how in the comments below!