Lewis Hamilton was pleased to end a tough Malaysian Grand Prix weekend by extending his lead over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship to 34 points.
Hamilton rallied from a tough practice to take pole position on Saturday for Mercedes, only to struggle for race pace and eventually finish second behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Vettel fought back from last place on the grid to finish fourth, with his race pace looking stronger than Hamilton’s for much of the 56-lap affair as he rose through the order.
With Hamilton and his Mercedes team extending their leads in their respective championships despite being third-best at times in Malaysia, the Briton was left pleased with his weekend’s work.
“A much better weekend than we anticipated after our Friday. We’ve got a lot of work to do with our car, so considering the issues we did have, it is a good result,” Hamilton said.
“I think Valtteri [Bottas, who finished fifth] obviously seemed to struggle a lot more and I was able to just pull a little bit more out of it I guess.
“These next races are going to be crucial in terms of finding out whether we can iron out some of the creases in the car. But who would have thought the Ferraris would have problems? All we can do is try to capitalize as much on those.
“Naturally, I wanted to win the race and so Max did a fantastic job today but ultimately winning the race is still the goal. So even if you get second, it is not that satisfying.”
With five races to go, Hamilton now leads by 34 points, meaning he remains on-course to claim a fourth world title in 2017.
Hamilton’s fight with Vettel will continue next weekend with the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.