Silver Arrows put up tense battle in the final edition of the Malaysia Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton took his ninth podium of the 2017 season, coming home second at the Sepang International Circuit. Valtteri Bottas finished today’s PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix in P5 – his 60th points finish in F1. Lewis (281 points) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 34 points from Sebastian Vettel (247 points), with Valtteri in P3 with 222 points. Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Motorsport (503 points) extend the lead to Ferrari (385 points) in the Constructors’ Championship to 118 points.
It was a much better weekend than we had anticipated after our Friday, considering the issues we did have with the car this is a good result. But still we have a lot of work to do with the car, some of the corners really magnified the issues we have. These next races are going to be crucial in terms of ironing out some of the creases we have with the car. I was having some problems with de-rates at the beginning of the race, so I was struggling with battery power. Valtteri seemed to struggle a lot more; I was able to pull a little bit more out of it. Naturally, I wanted to win the race, winning the races is still the goal. So even to be second is not that satisfying. Today was a step towards in trying to win the world championship and every point counts.
Today was difficult. I was trying everything I can, I was giving it all I had, but I was lacking pace and I was sliding around. The start was definitely the best part of the day. It was really good, I could actually attack a little bit and fight for positions. But not long after that I just started to drop down and couldn’t keep up with the others. In the first stint I had quite a lot of understeer, so I was struggling with the balance. The story of the race was managing the tyre temperatures. If I tried harder, then I started to overheat the tyre and slide even more, so I had to manage everything and that’s why I was so slow. We need to analyse the race because the upgrade package should have been quite a step forward in terms of downforce, but I couldn’t really see it. There are still a lot of things we need to try to understand, we need to learn from today. For Japan, we need to make sure we choose all the right bits for the car, and hopefully we will see some cooler temperatures.
It was clear after just a few laps that both Red Bull and Ferrari had better cars than us today – but we nevertheless managed to score a good number of points and extend our lead in both championships. After a weekend where we have lacked a significant chunk of performance, we couldn’t have imagined such a good outcome, but we can’t let that distract us from the job we have in front of us. We leave Malaysia with a lot of question marks and we need to find answers to them in the next days and weeks, to ensure that we keep moving forward and racing at the front in the final quarter of this championship. We cannot get distracted by the fact we got lucky again this weekend. Lewis did a fantastic job today to score P2 while Valtteri, just like over the rest of the weekend, struggled to match that pace and brought the car home in P5. We know that gap doesn’t reflect his true level of performance, and it will be a priority for us to put two equally competitive cars on track next weekend in Suzuka. In simple words, there is a lot more work ahead of us if we want to come out on top by Abu Dhabi.
Source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport