Ferrari was probably hoping that Kimi Raikkonen could help Sebastian Vettel’s title chances by getting stuck in at the front and taking points away from Lewis Hamilton.
But the team’s terrible luck this weekend continued when a problem with Kimi’s car on the grid couldn’t be fixed, and he was confined to the garage for the afternoon before the warm-up lap had even started.
At the start Hamilton made the perfect getaway, but Verstappen stayed right with him. Then on lap four he sent it up the inside of the Mercedes driver at turn one and romped ahead as everyone waited for the inevitable car failure that has ruined his chances on so many occasions this year.
The retirement never came though, and Verstappen edged out a lead of around nine seconds, which he pretty much maintained to the finish.
Further back Vettel had a pretty mega first couple of laps as he moved up to 11th, and then continued to make progress up to the first round of pit-stops. When he made his only stop at half-distance he leapfrogged Valtteri Bottas (who had an absolute mare of a race, finishing 44 seconds behind his teammate) and started chasing down Daniel Ricciardo for the final podium spot.
He came close, but his tyres went off towards the end and had to settle for fourth – still a decent result given his starting position, and fans voted him ‘Driver of the Day’ for his efforts.
There were some pretty decent battles during the race. Ricciardo put a lovely move on Bottas early on which lasted for four corners, Stoffel Vandoorne (who finished a brilliant seventh) had a good battle with the Williams drivers after emerging from his pit stop and Fernando Alonso had an entertaining scrap with Kevin Magnussen, leading to an amusing bit of team radio.
Esteban Ocon had an eventful race, making contact with Felipe Massa at the start, getting spun around when passing Carlos Sainz Jr. later on, and twice being run off the road whilst trying to pass Massa. Somehow he still came home 10th, extending his impressive finishing streak. Oconsistent indeed!
INITIAL CLASSIFICATION: @Max33Verstappen wins on his birthday weekend as Hamilton extends championship lead to 34 points #MalaysiaGP 🇲🇾 pic.twitter.com/lm9HQjw6BL
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 1, 2017
Second place for Hamilton still sees him extend his championship lead over Vettel by six points, who capped off an eventful weekend with a bizarre incident, where he somehow collided with Lance Stroll on the cooldown lap and then had to hitch a ride back with Pascal Wehrlein.
But with a dominant victory in what is sadly set to be the final Malaysian GP, it’s Max Verstappen who deserves all the plaudits. Perhaps turning 20 will help to change his luck after all!