Hamilton surprised himself with pole lap

Grosjean braced for 'hardest race of the year'

Ricciardo hoping for another unexpected result in Malaysia

Track crew lifting Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France auto after it crashed out on Turn 14 during the second practice at the Sepang International Circuit for the first practice session for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.

"Well, I think it would have been more hard if I had lost the vehicle somewhere in the race, and it's obviously different but with a collision at the start like that, I think. that was when we had to go to the stewards", said Vettel.

The Briton will not need to win another race this season if Vettel finishes lower than second on Sunday, which will mark the final running of the Sepang race after the Malaysian government announced it would not continue to fund the US$67 million (S$91 million) annual cost of staging the Grand Prix.

"In Singapore, Sebastian was first and I was fourth in qualifying so if you compare it with Mercedes, we were better", he said.

"It's a step toward trying to win this world championship so every point counts", Hamilton said.

Hamilton, now top of the drivers' standings with 263 points after 14 rounds wants to redeem himself as he did not achieve a great result in Sepang previous year. "It's over the whole year".

Hamilton won the German constructor's only race to date in 2014 and was desperately unlucky not to win a second past year - his engine blew up on lap 40 of the 56-lap race while leading, gifting Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo victory.

Having qualified on pole in Singapore, the stage was set for Vettel to retake the championship lead he had squandered for the first time in 2017.

But, sentiment aside, it seems as though the Malaysian Grand Prix won't be deeply missed by the 37-year-old.

"I don't know what I'm able to say and not say as I don't want everyone knowing all of the problems we do have", he said.

"As we said in Melbourne, we have big plans for bringing our global fan base closer to the sport than ever before, providing an enhanced digital experience and creating new events". Last year, a record crowd of 160,000 people turned up for the 2016 edition of the bike race.

Vettel has looked like giving Hamilton a run for his money for much of the season but recent results have left him lingering.

Hamilton was sixth and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Botta was seventh. Vettel's nearest non-Ferrari rival was Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull - 0.838s off the pace while holding a 0.010s margin over teammate Max Verstappen in fourth.

Vettel's last win came at the Hungarian GP before the summer break, moving him 14 points clear of Hamilton.

"In Monza we didn't do our best and equally Mercedes were very strong.it's mostly in Singapore where we didn't race".

"We've just got to stay on our toes and keep trying to extract everything out of this vehicle".

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