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Verstappen knew Hamilton had more to lose in Malaysia F1 fight

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Max Verstappen was encouraged to be bold in his fight with Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix as he knew the Formula 1 championship leader has more to risk by battling for position.

Verstappen passed Hamilton on Lap 4 in Malaysia en route to his second F1 win, dominating the remainder of the race and finishing 12 seconds clear of the Mercedes driver at the checkered flag.

Verstappen sensed from the beginning there would be an opportunity to fight with Hamilton, and was happy to force the issue knowing his rival had a championship lead to protect.

“I think in the beginning straightaway the car felt good. I saw Lewis struggling with traction, so I used my battery as much as I could,” Verstappen said.

“He has more to lose than me in the championship, so I went for it at Turn 1. From there on I could do my own race.

“The car was unbelievable today. I had the pace. If I needed to speed up, I speeded up. It’s amazing, a very tough race. Incredible to win.”

The result marked only Verstappen’s second appearance on the podium this season, having only finished in the top three back in China, the second round of the season.

In a year that has left the Dutchman largely frustrated with frequent reliability issues, he admitted the victory was all the sweeter.

“Especially after the season I’ve had, I think this victory came at a very good time,” Verstappen said.

“I was really happy when I crossed the line.”

Coming just one day after his 20th birthday, the result sees Verstappen become the youngest driver in F1 history to win multiple grands prix, beating the record set by Sebastian Vettel at the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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