March 18 2018

Lewis Hamilton Off Pace In Malaysia Practice As Romain Grosjean Crashes

March 18 2018, 05:07 | Irvin Gilbert

Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton with Malaysian athletes at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today. Pix by Luqman Hakim Zubir

Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton with Malaysian athletes at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today. Pix by Luqman Hakim Zubir

Najib said there was a "sentimental kind of feeling" about the last edition of a race which helped raise Malaysia's profile around the world. Hopefully it won't happen again, but it's part of racing. "I've been struggling with the auto today, so we have to review and try to understand where we have gone wrong with the balance". It would also eliminate any leftover memories of his finish in Malaysia a year ago. "For sure it's not ideal, not what you want especially on a day where you feel you've got it in you, got it in the auto".

Last year, Hamilton's title hopes were dealt a severe blow when his engine burst into flames on lap 43 while the Briton was dominating the rest of the field in the Malaysian GP. I need to take one session at a time.

When he did re-emerge with 40 minutes of the session remaining his auto appeared still to be handling erratically, and his first timed lap was fully 1.4 seconds down on Vettel. He led comfortably past year but retired with an engine failure.

Grosjean said: "I didn't see anything and then suddenly I had a big hit on the right rear".

Two weeks ago, Vettel wasted pole in Singapore, causing a first-turn crash that took out Raikkonen, Verstappen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso with him. "Ultimately it is down in performance, but fortunately it didn't make a difference".

"The economics viability of it is less and less attractive, so we made a decision to terminate it", Najib said.

Races in Turkey, India and South Korea came and went largely unnoticed and now malaysia, with the bright lights of the Singapore night-race just down the road, is falling by the wayside. "It was my only chance", Verstappen said.

Alonso was third, two seconds adrift of Verstappen as the Red Bulls proved untouchable in the wet.

Lewis Hamilton was widely tipped to struggle in the twisty street circuit of Singapore but benefited from Ferrari rivals Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen crashing at the first corner.

Vettel drove like someone keen to defy the odds. The German led by 25 points after the Monaco Grand Prix in May and by 14 following victory at July's Hungarian Grand Prix but now it is Hamilton in the ascendancy following a blistering run of form.

Powered by three wins for Michael Schumacher in the early 2000s, Ferrari have seven race wins at Sepang, the leading team by a significant margin.

Vettel might even have caught Ricciardo, moving to within one second of the Australian driver late on. "I have worked hard to prepare for this and to get to F1". "But he only had one attack". Before qualifying I was thinking of going back to the new package because our times were similar and Valtteri seemed happy on it so I didn't want to carry a penalty going into qualifying, you want every little millisecond you can get.

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