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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.

F1 2017 driver review: Kevin Magnussen

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Kevin Magnussen

Team: Haas
Car No.: 20
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 19
Championship Position: 14th

Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.

For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.

Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.

Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.

Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.

That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.

The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.

Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.

Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.