The final Malaysian Grand Prix was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from the second row of the grid, after stopping just once to change from supersoft to soft tyres.
This was the strategy that was adopted by all the frontrunners, with the notable exception of Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, who staged a brilliant fightback to fourth from last.
The German chose to start the race on the soft tyres to try and gain track position, switching to the faster supersoft tyres on the same lap that Verstappen pitted from the lead to change from supersoft to soft. Vettel was then able to use the extra speed of the supersoft to make his way into the top four places.
Mario Isola - Head Of Car Racing
“After practice was interrupted by weather and a red flag, the teams still had to fully calculate degradation rates over long runs, which was the main challenge today. In the end, track temperatures were relatively cool by Malaysia standards – around 40 degrees centigrade – and degradation was low on both compounds, so the stints were able to be stretched out. With all the frontrunners selecting similar one-stop supersoft-soft strategies, one of the highlights of the race was Vettel’s charge up the field from last, helped by an alternative strategy by starting on the soft. Force India’s Esteban Ocon was forced into an early stop following a puncture caused by contact with another car: he then ran all the way to the end on the soft tyre after pitting on lap three.”