Daniel Ricciardo beat Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen to victory in a dramatic Malaysian Grand Prix, after long-time leader Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure and fell further behind in the title race.
Hamilton made a strong start to keep his lead, while behind, team-mate Nico Rosberg was hit by Sebastian Vettel, who dived up the inside.
Ricciardo and Verstappen, the latter also tagged by Vettel, slotted behind Hamilton, with Rosberg tumbling down the order, and Vettel retiring.
Hamilton built a sizeable lead over the Red Bulls on a one-stop plan, only for disaster to strike when his engine failed 15 laps from the finish.
Ricciardo and Verstappen moved to the front and, after a brief squabble, Red Bull double-stacked them under the Virtual Safety Car, which created a small gap between the pair.
Rosberg found himself at the back of the pack after the first-corner drama, but recovered to the final podium position, despite being penalised for a collision with Kimi Räikkönen.
Red Bull thus marked its first 1-2 result since Brazil 2013, denying Mercedes an early title celebration, while Rosberg moved 23 points clear of Hamilton with five races remaining. Amid the typical intense heat, there was trouble before the race had even begun, with Felipe Massa unable to start the formation lap, and others experiencing power-related issues. After a massive delay to the start-light sequence, which added to car concerns, Hamilton pulled away cleanly and entered the first corner with crucial space to his rivals behind. Vettel was another fast-starter and moved ahead of the Red Bulls on the lengthy run down to Turn 1, but banged wheels with Verstappen and then ran into Rosberg's car.
Rosberg was sent spinning, with drivers darting to avoid him, while Vettel limped around the first few corners with front-left suspension damage, before pulling off track and retiring. Under an early Virtual Safety Car, deployed when Haas driver Romain Grosjean spun off with an apparent brake failure, Verstappen, Rosberg, Force India and McLaren all pitted.
It appeared to pay off for Verstappen, who put on another set of Softs and lapped quickly, until it emerged that the other frontrunners would be one-stopping, moving straight to Hards. As the race panned out, Hamilton – who made his one and only stop on Lap 20 – reclaimed the lead and managed the gap back to Ricciardo, who also overhauled Verstappen. Hamilton looked set to record a crucial win, and retake the championship lead, but his Internal Combustion Engine gave up late on, prompting sighs of disbelief over the radio.
Verstappen had closed on Ricciardo shortly before Hamilton's failure, with the pair going side-by-side for multiple corners, but Ricciardo held firm and then inherited the lead. As the VSC came out, frontrunners moved back from Hards to Softs, which in turn put a few seconds between Ricciardo and Verstappen, a gap that remained through to the finish. Rosberg was given a 10-second penalty after a bold move on Räikkönen at Turn 2 during his comeback drive, but built up enough of a gap in the final laps to secure third place. Williams driver Valtteri Bottas followed in fifth, but Force India held on to fourth in the standings, as Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg came home in sixth and eighth respectively. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button gave McLaren-Honda a double points finish in seventh and ninth, with Jolyon Palmer claiming his first Formula 1 point in 10th position. Carlos Sainz Jr. did his best to challenge Palmer but had to settle for 11th, followed by Marcus Ericsson, Massa, team-mate Daniil Kvyat and the Manor drivers, all one lap down. In addition to Vettel, Grosjean and Hamilton, Kevin Magnussen retired with aero damage, Esteban Gutiérrez after a wheel fell off and Felipe Nasr with an unspecified issue.
DANIEL RICCIARDO (Red Bull)
Grand Prix of Malaysia
C. Sainz Jr.
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Kevin Magnussen (Den) at Sepang
Red Bull - Renault
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