Max Verstappen Takes First F1 Win of Season at Malaysian Grand Prix

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Two Team Red Bull Drivers stood atop the podium following the Malaysian Grand Prix.

We had to re-read what we just typed, as it felt extremely odd coming off our fingertips, but it is true.

It was not, however, Perth-born Daniel Ricciardo reprising his victory in the race from last year. He finished third, the top step going to his young teammate Max Verstappen.

Verstappen got past pole-winner Lewis Hamilton on the first turn of the fourth lap and controlled the race for the remainder for a 12.7-second win over the current points leader of the 2017 season. Verstappen is absolutely zero threat to any of the top three of Hamilton, Sebastien Vettel and Valtteri Bottas; nonetheless, it was extremely refreshing to write about an F1 race that was not dominated by Mercedes and Ferrari.

Vettel deserves much credit for managing to keep the powerful machines of the Germans and Italians behind him for such a prolonged period of time and Ricciardo did a bang-up job of holding off Vettel in the closing laps, as Vettel had a fresh, new-spec engine that seems to have the revs to become a force. Vettel’s team actually told him to ease up on the gas, as there was some concern over engine temperatures that seemed to be trending dangerously toward the upper end of the scale.

Vettel still managed to damage his car, just not the engine part of the car, when he collided with Lance Stroll of Team Williams during the post-race slow down lap.

Ricciardo held the lead briefly when Verstappen and some others took to the pits for modified rubber, but he gave the lead back to Verstappen when he (Ricciardo) went in two laps later for his own stop.

Going into the last five races of the 2017 F1 season, Hamilton has a 34-point lead over Vettel. Bottas trails Hamilton by 59, so it would take the sort of disasters that would be considered disastrous by Hamilton and Mercedes for anyone to overtake.