Max Verstappen top in Malaysian Grand Prix first practice

Annette Crawford
October 1, 2017

Red Bull has consistently been the third best team this season behind constructors' championship leaders Mercedes and Ferrari, managing just one win from the opening fourteen rounds.The sole victory was claimed by Ricciardo in Baku after he benefitted from a spate of issues to numerous front runners. "Third would have been nicer than fourth".

It was his seventh podium finish since round five, including a win in Azerbaijan in June.

"I think from then on it's been really good and we've made really strong progress". "We're half a second from Lewis around here so I think we can be pretty happy with that".

Ricciardo does not believe the Mercedes auto will have enough pace to dominate proceedings, and is relieved Raikkonen will not be starting from pole.

"I gave Max half a tenth!" said Ricciardo when asked what he had got Verstappen for his birthday.

"But let's say it [the start] goes off in order".

Ricciardo said Hamilton's qualifying pace is not a guarantee that ditching the upgrade has solved the problems on the Briton's side of the garage.

"I'm obviously trying to keep my eyes open a little bit with what's happening, but for me it's still too far ahead to worry", the Australian said of his current predicament. "I think they're still struggling a bit to find grip in that auto".

"I'm not sure he can do that on every lap tomorrow so I'm hopeful it will bring everyone closer".

Nevertheless, Verstappen once again displayed his undeniable talent by taking third on the grid in Malaysia despite Red Bull's fears it would lag behind both Mercedes and Ferrari in the dry.

"I think we could have been a bit closer - definitely we couldn't have beaten them today but for us, to be third here, on this track, is ideal". "It's always good to drive on this track, especially in qualifying". "Mercedes' long run pace has been hard to read".

Several of the drivers also expressed hope that F1 would soon return to the venue, with Sebastian Vettel saying, "I'm not obviously involved in why we're not racing here any more but, who knows, maybe we're back after a year break or two".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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