Verstappen rounds off a perfect Birthday weekend with a dominant victory in Malaysia.

It was a sensational result for Red Bull at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia yesterday with a double podium as Max Verstappen claimed a well-deserved win and Daniel Ricciardo finished in third. The young Dutchman, son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen, celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday and was outstanding in qualifying on the same day achieving third position on the grid. Yesterday marked his second ever Grand Prix win, his first being in Barcelona last year and was all the sweeter as it ended a run of incredibly bad luck with seven retirements out of the fifteen races of the season so far. As he crossed the finish line after an intense 56 laps, a whole 12.7 seconds ahead of his rival Lewis Hamilton, he brought tears to the eyes of his father and sister avidly watching on from the team garage and delighted his Team Principal Chris Horner. "Yes!" Horner exclaimed over the team radio, "Great start to a new decade for you". A huge rising talent with youth on his side, Verstappen displayed great maturity with a flawless drive and is undoubtedly destined for more great things.

Yesterday's race was the final Grand Prix to be held at the Sepang International Circuit after the local government decided to cease all funding therefore it will not feature in the 2018 calendar. With racing having taken place on this historic and exciting circuit since 1999 it will no doubt be greatly missed by the Formula One world. It had been widely predicted that Mercedes would dominate this hot and humid track but after a lacklustre performance in qualifying on Friday with both Lewis Hamilton and his team-mate Valtteri Bottas unable to maintain a good pace, the cracks were starting to show. The Mercedes cars were consistently slower on the circuit than the Ferrari's pushing a disappointed Team Principal Toto Wolff to announce that Friday would go down as the worst qualifying in the entire history of the team. "It is unbalanced and sliding all over the place. The tyres are overheating and there is a gremlin in the car", he said. It was suspected that a new aerodynamic upgrade to the Mercedes cars was to blame for all the problems in Friday's session and the team managed to resolve Hamilton's issues by reverting back to the old system enabling the British world champion to achieve pole on Saturday, the 70th of his formidable career to date. Yet he was still unable to compete with Verstappen's electrifying pace on the track yesterday and was overtaken by the Red Bull winner on Lap Four and was forced to settle for second place.

Valtteri Bottas was also left questioning his team and his car's abilities when he finished in fifth place, behind Ferrari's Sebastien Vettel who had started way behind him from the back of the grid. "Being honest, it may be the most difficult time of my career so far, in terms of how it feels every time I go in the car. If I keep doing races like this for long, that is not going to be a good thing for anyone. Like I said many many question marks. I need to have a good look in the mirror again" said an extremely downtrodden Bottas. It seems all is not rosy behind the scenes at Mercedes and many post-race discussions took place yesterday between the two top drivers and their team. "I don't know what I'm able to say and not say as I don't want everyone knowing all of the problems we do have" said Hamilton when interviewed about the concerns with his car. "There is stuff you don't even know about that has been happening through the weekend that is not acceptable for this great team and we all know that and need to work on those areas". Hamilton must be feeling the pressure that the gap is closing on his lead and that these problems could pose a huge threat and ultimately cost him his fourth world title, one that is now within touching distance with only five races to go.

After a devastating collision in Singapore two weeks ago, Sebastien Vettel's misfortune continued when he suffered a terrible bout of engine problems in qualifying and was consequently unable to register a time and had to start the race on Sunday at the back of the grid. After a masterful drive of damage limitation, he managed to climb from 20th position and finish the race in fourth, unable to overtake a defensive Daniel Ricciardo to take a podium place. An odd incident in the warm-down lap however did not do the German driver any favours when he seemed to collide with Lance Stroll of Williams. The impact caused considerable damage to the car's suspension and left him balancing his car on it's rear wheels. Stranded out on the circuit, Vettel had to remove his steering wheel and hitch a ride back to the pits. It is highly likely that Ferrari will now have to make changes to his gearbox which in turn will incur another significant grid penalty in Japan this weekend. The incident was discussed by the race stewards but it was declared that no further action would be taken as "no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the incident". Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen could not even get off the starting blocks in Malaysia on Sunday and was a very sorry sight as his failed car was pushed back into the pits. It was the first non-start for the Finnish driver since way back in 2005 and the blow would have been huge. "I have no battery. It's just empty", said an obviously frustrated Raikkonen as his car was removed from it's second place on the grid. There was a slight glimmer of hope that Kimi may have been able to start the race from the pits where his engine cover was removed but the team were unable to resolve the issue in time and his race was declared as over before it had even begun.

Another driver to admit defeat when his car totally lost all power on Lap 35 was Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso. He was in eighth position when a battle ensued between himself and Force India's Esteban Ocon with both drivers braking late into turn One and resulting in a collision that sent Ocon spinning off the track. The Frenchman managed to recover and went on to finish the race in tenth place but the engine problems to the Toro Rosso were too great and Sainz could not complete the race. Haas driver Kevin Magnussen drove an eventful race with some daring overtaking and risky manoeuvres but has since endured the wrath of McLaren's Fernando Alonso after the pair clashed on Lap 33. When interviewed after the race, the hopping mad Spanish driver expressed his sheer anger at the way in which Magnussen conducts himself on the track and that is was a much discussed topic amongst the other racing drivers when he said "For his driving, we more or less agree with the other drivers, it's nineteen to one".

Lewis Hamilton now has a 34 point lead in the championship and will be hoping for a far better performance in his Mercedes at the Suzuka circuit in Japan this weekend to extend his title lead even further. He may potentially be helped out by the fact that Sebastien Vettel could be penalised yet again with another grid penalty which will hinder Ferrari's chances of closing the gap. We now eagerly await race sixteen in the Formula One calendar on a track that has become increasingly popular with the F1 drivers, a unique circuit with its figure of eight layout and incredibly challenging and high-speed corners.