Britain’s Lewis Hamilton warned his Mercedes team they must make drastic improvements if he is to win a fourth drivers’ championship following Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton extended his lead over closest rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari to 34 points with five races remaining by finishing second to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at Sepang.
But that success was tempered by concerns over the pace of his car, with Hamilton failing to convert his pole position into a win and Vettel fighting his way from the back of the grid to take fourth place.
“Considering Vettel started last, it’s not really that great. We should have won today but we didn’t have the pace,” he said.
“We have done an exceptional job with what we have. There are some really big problems which I can’t really explain. We really need to make sure we rectify them for next year’s cars if we really want to fight both Ferrari and Red Bull when they step up their game.”
Verstappen passed Hamilton on lap four and held on to claim his second win on the occasion of his 20th birthday. Red Bull colleague Daniel Ricciardo took third.
Vettel’s afternoon was marred by a freak collision with Williams youngster Lance Stroll after the chequered flag, sparking fears of possible gearbox damage that could bring a grid penalty for next week’s Japanese Grand Prix.