(Update) Hamilton takes pole, Vettel starts from back at Sepang

Posted October 01, 2017

"Our record there in recent seasons has been mixed but the fundamental characteristics of the circuit, with its sweeping corners and long straights, should mean the auto is well-suited to the circuit", Wolff said.

"I do not really know what happened to Sebastian but he would have been up here with us, he had been very quick all weekend with Kimi. I'm surprised to be up here".

And non-executive chairman Niki Lauda added: "This again was a Lewis lap".

"The result in Singapore came as a surprise for us all - and the danger of a result like that is to misjudge your own level of performance", Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff warned. "Maybe we shouldn't underestimate the driving factor".

Two weeks later however, and on a track where Mercedes was expected to shine, the team is at sixes and sevens with both drivers struggling to keep their cars on the black stuff.

After failing to catch them, on the final lap, Hamilton slowed down and allowed Bottas to overtake him and take third place back.

The Englishman revealed his crew had worked until 2am on Saturday morning in a bid to rectify the issue.

"We need to see now what the problem is but we managed to do the change in time".

Bottas was only fifth, nearly seven tenths adrift of Hamilton. We've saved some tyres so that's a positive but it's a very bad day.

Hamilton and Mercedes endured a tricky Friday with an upgraded auto, prompting the decision to switch the championship leader back to an old spec to compare to teammate Valtteri Bottas' vehicle in FP3.

"I think fifth is a little bit ambitious. I've been struggling with the auto today, so we have to review and try to understand where we have gone wrong with the balance", said Hamilton.

Raikkonen said he had a "good feeling" about the race and Hamilton is also wary of the threat from Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, who start third and fourth and have shown good race pace so far this weekend. "It is sad to think this is our last race at Sepang".

"The configuration will work less in our favour, but of course we will still fight for everything", he insisted.

"The race is tomorrow not today". In Friday's second practice, Vettel was fastest ahead of Raikkonen.

"When you get that close it's a disappointment", said Raikkonen.

"For the rest of the day we will concentrate on getting the four kerbs welded back down again.they have probably become a bit tired". Obviously for Seb he can make a good recovery but it won't change my race.

Who will come out on top in Sepang?

"It's part of motor racing", the German told Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 8am on Sunday, October 1.