Malaysia pace provides renewed belief — Ferrari

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Ferrari's performance at the Malaysian Grand Prix proves it can take the fight to Mercedes in both Formula One world championships in the remaining five races, according to team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.

"But it was quite a strategic race".

Saturday's pole was the 70th of Hamilton's career and fifth in Malaysia, which is hosting its last F1 race on Sunday.

However, Ferrari are confident that they will be able to re-use the gearbox during qualifying at the weekend after receiving the green light following investigations, according to BBC Sport.

Meanwhile Vettel insists he is confident of reeling in Hamilton after Ferrari proved they have the fastest vehicle heading into the final five races. Without external factors, those cars would have been first and second. "This is motor racing and that's what makes it exciting, it can go against anybody". The rumour mill in the build-up to round 15 was that the Pole was headed to Renault once a three-month "gardening leave" period had been completed but, with his insider knowledge of future developments planned by all teams, the regie's rivals were naturally up in arms about the move.

Vettel has a 34-point deficit to recover with only 125 points available. I think it is more a driver lap than the auto.

"We were the quickest vehicle for the majority of the race", Vettel said.

It is why the Italian outfit and Vettel head to this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix with the belief they can be in the mix for victory, despite Mercedes having won the last three races at Suzuka.

Instead he had Bottas to contend with.

While Ferrari were holding another post-mortem, wondering just what they have to do to get a break with a vehicle that is working extremely well, Mercedes had a lengthy debrief here on Sunday evening.

"But I didn't see any pace in clear air that they had on the super-soft or soft tyre that was quicker than what we were capable of doing".

Vettel's pace on Sunday only further underlined what could have been for Raikkonen.

Mercedes won the constructors' championship in Japan past year but that will not happen this time.

Stewards took no action after investigating the incident, but Vettel blamed Stroll.

"Even if I had closed the door and held Verstappen back on that lap, he would have got me on another", Hamilton said.

He also had some obstruction from Fernando Alonso, which cost him time.

"I'm very grateful to the team". Five laps later and Ricciardo managed to pass Bottas in a magnificent little scrap for third place, before going on the hunt for Hamilton.

Privileged off-track access is on offer, including behind-the-scenes tours of the F1 paddock and pit lane, a driving tour of the iconic Suzuka track and a ticket to exclusive Paddock Club parties. Ricciardo pitted in the subsequent lap. "It's far from flawless, but it's one of those things that happen".

"We must not forget that we're talking about the auto that leads the constructors' championship and leads the drivers' championship", Wolff said. The pair finished eighth and ninth. The Dutchman had previously been left frustrated by his seven DNFs this season and he was, of course, the meat in a Ferrari sandwich in a first corner crash at the recent Singapore Grand Prix when showing decent pace in qualifying. It can be hard to see the undercut value sometimes and it's a mixture of experience, data and even a bit of luck.

It demonstrates how success isn't born overnight, but built over time and that is something that Ferrari fail to realise.

Spare a thought for the Sauber engineering team after their network went down taking all the timing with it. Things happened this weekend that are not acceptable to this level of team.

Look at the tell-tale droop on Vettel's race trace (solid red) which shows how he had to back off at the end due to lack of fuel. Red Bull could take further points off them.

"They're going to go and analyse and confirm whether that's the case or not".

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