Sepang winner Max Verstappen has the flu

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At the recently concluded race in Malaysia, Ferrari again looked strong, but were beset with engine problems that saw Vettel start from the back of the grid, while his teammate failed to start the race despite qualifying second.

When Verstappen passed Hamilton early on, we heard Hamilton on the radio talking about de-rates and we thought, "yeah he'll come back at him". "So I didn't make it very hard for him".

"Until I've actually got it sown up, you've got to keep pushing". I'm surprised to be up here. His team mate Kimi Raikkonen had a much better Saturday afternoon as he qualified second. I just want to perform, I want to be at a good level and I haven't been doing that for some time, for many varied reasons. Sepang was a weekend where on Thursday we would have said Mercedes was still favourites, with Ferrari close. Maybe we shouldn't underestimate the driving factor.

Hamilton is confident the track layout and cooler conditions in Japan will suit Mercedes more than the heat of Singapore and Malaysia, but is not ruling out Vettel and Ferrari making a comeback.

Verstappen overtook pole-sitter Hamilton on lap four.

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"So it is normal you try to understand things and it's normal we have a shift in people". But there wasn't really enough time so we had to stay with it and it's also a risk changing the auto again. Valtteri Bottas could only manage to finish in fifth place. Hamilton seized an important victory, but that Vettel was able to shadow him for the entirety of the race on a circuit that should not have suited Ferrari spoke volumes about the improvements made to his auto. "Somebody mentioned something about Nico only wanting to finish second [at the final races of last year] but he was qualifying to get pole, he wasn't qualifying to get second position". I turned in pretty much the same as the other laps and suddenly I had no rear.

"But, in dreaming up something for our drivers to do in Tokyo this week, we resisted the temptation to make them do anything offbeat or even too classically calming (we figured that racing drivers, who generally have the attention span of a guppy, would react badly to a tea ceremony or nice origami session), and instead we made them hit people with big sticks".

With five races remaining, he felt strongly that he knew the direction the team should pursue in order to best serve his attempt to win a fourth title.

Had Vettel finished as he did in fourth but Hamilton triumphed, the triple champion wouldn't have needed to win another race this year to clinch the title.

Still, Ferrari looked to have, in the form of Raikkonen, more than enough pace in the pocket to stroll to the chequered flag. But the asphalt is a really grippy surface, you've got a lot of positive camber on the road and the surface has a lot of grip.

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"We have some work to do".

"It has been a more challenging picture for Valtteri and it is a priority for us to give him the vehicle he needs to perform - and to help him extract everything from it".

Who will come out on top in Sepang?

"The attraction for the Malaysian fans is the problem, especially since 2014".

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