Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Hamilton back on song as Vettel claims victory

Sebastian Vettel’s World Championship challenge is up and running after victory in Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton was overjoyed after surging from back of the grid to finish sixth at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old McLaren driver lined up in 20th place after falling out at the first phase of qualifying due to a strategic error from his team, but he attacked from the start and had battled his way past eight cars after just the first lap.

Sebastian Vettel swept to victory as Red Bull put the reliability issues which had plagued them this season behind them, as they swept to a one-two with teammate Mark Webber second.

Hamilton’s aggressive driving soon saw him inside the top 10 but he finally found his match in Force India's Adrian Sutil, who successfully kept his friend at bay to deny him fifth.

But Hamilton was nevertheless thrilled, especially after enduring a frustrating race in Australia last weekend.

“Overall I am well happy with the result,” he said.

“I couldn't ask for anymore after going from 20th to sixth.

“I think the team deserved it and I believe we are closer now in the constructors' championship and that is a positive.

“I had a good first few laps and after the fifth lap I was up to P10.

“We were fast enough to compete with the guys at the front. I came out on my new tyres and I pushed as hard as I could but I couldn't get passed Adrian and in the end I had to settle for sixth and bag those points.

“He is a fantastic driver. He is not always fortunate to get the results he deserves so I am very happy for him.”

Vettel was delighted with the win.

“It is a very good result for us, especially after the first two races where we did not finish where we wanted to,” he said.

“I thank the team as it was crucial not to panic and to stay relaxed as it is a long season.

“Sitting here on Sunday afternoon having secured first place is the best result we can get and on top of that Mark getting second place is a big plus for the team.”

Jenson Button, meanwhile, felt he made the incorrect call on tyre strategy that prevented him from finishing higher than eighth.

The reigning world champion had wisely chosen to switch tyres early in Melbourne last Sunday to secure victory but an early pit stop today ultimately halted his charge through the field.

The 30-year-old had started on the option tyres but struggled for grip meaning he had to stop on lap 10 and change to prime tyres.

“I took the gamble to pit early,” said Button.

“I had a terrible start and I think I made a mistake going to the option tyre immediately because I had no grip at all.

“I couldn't overtake and lost a lot of time at the start so I pitted when I had a clear circuit.

“It felt good after that but the problem was I was on the prime for so long that around a circuit you cannot overtake on was very difficult, as the cars behind were two seconds a lap quicker.”

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