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Sebastian Vettel set to escape Japanese GP gearbox penalty

04 October 2017

Just as they had in Singapore a fortnight ago, the Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo topped the times in Free Practice session 1, despite the wet weather.

The Scuderia's hopes of pulling off a win on Sunday were all-but ended when Kimi Raikkonen's SF70H suffered a similar turbo failure that affected Vettel's auto in qualifying on his way to the grid, preventing him from contesting the race from second on the grid.

Vettel had feared a five-place grid drop for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, after he collided with Stroll on the slow down lap at Sepang.

Engine issues for Sebastian Vettel in FP3 and qualifying ended the German's hopes of leading Ferrari's charge from the front, and forced him to start Sunday's race from 20th after taking on a host of new engine components.

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"When you have a hard day, when the s**t really hits the fan, that is when there are more questions and you go into more detail".

The Woking-based team head into the weekend having chalked up their first consecutive points finishes of the season.

Dutch flier Verstappen's second career win in Malaysia fired a warning to Mercedes and Ferrari, while Ricciardo also finished on the podium.

Formula One F1 - Malaysia Grand Prix 2017 - Sepang, Malaysia - October 1, 2017.

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Hamilton, who suffered battery issues among others, lead the Petronas Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix for four laps though was unable to fend off eventual victor Max Verstappen who had much stronger pace in the Red Bull.

The championship battle between Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has provided a gripping narrative, however, even if Sunday's race stretched the former's lead to a hefty 34 points. "It was just a very odd incident.Obviously the race wasn't going on so it wasn't intentional for either of us", said the eighth-placed finisher. The Frenchman's recdnt run of form has brought him to within half a point of the championship lead but, for now, he insists that he would rather continue to gain F1 experience by racing at the Circuit of the Americas... "In simple words, there is a lot more work ahead of us if we want to come out on top by Abu Dhabi".

Asked if the Sepang performance left Red Bull expecting more wins in the remaining races this season, Horner replied: "For us, each race is like a Cup final and we will just go for it". We will see. All those things come into play. Mercedes used Bottas to keep Hamilton out of reach; they pitted Hamilton on Lap 26 and got him out safely ahead.

"Suzuka is a much cooler circuit", Hamilton said. The sight of an engine cover being removed on the grid is never a good one, and acted like a magnet to numerous media as we watched the team work frantically on Raikkonen's vehicle. "It is entirely in our hands to make sure we achieve them".

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Sebastian Vettel set to escape Japanese GP gearbox penalty