Sport Motorsport Daniel Ricciardo finishes third in Malaysian Grand Prix
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Daniel Ricciardo finishes third in Malaysian Grand Prix

Malaysian GP Daniel Ricciardo
Race winner Max Verstappen with second-placed Lewis Hamilton and third-placed Daniel Ricciardo Photo: Getty
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Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has finished third behind Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo’s podium finish was his eighth in a season highlighted by his victory in Azerbaijan.

Starting No.4 on the grid, Ricciardo held off Sebastian Vettel to consolidate fourth position on the drivers’ championship.

Verstappen made most of the running after passing Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole, early in the race.

Despite being unable to seal an eighth win of the season, Hamilton still opened up his gap at the top of the Formula One championship over nearest rival Vettel.

Verstappen, who started third on the grid, overtook Hamilton on the fourth lap of 56 around the 5.543km Sepang International Circuit and, with Mercedes struggling for pace, had no problem in cruising to victory.

Vettel started at the back of the grid after engine problems ruined his Saturday qualifying and recovered to fourth.

The Malaysian race is leaving the F1 calender after this season after 19 years and rain before the start hinted at a possible thriller.

In the event, the track dried quickly before the green light but Kimi Raikkonen’s engine issue, completing another miserable weekend for Ferrari, ensured drama.

It came 24 hours after Vettel failed to progress beyond first qualifying due to a power problem and two weeks after the Ferrari pair, together with Verstappen, crashed out at the first corner of the Singapore GP.

That left Vettel with damage limitation on the agenda and he slickly moved through the field.

Bottas wished to help Hamilton but Vettel pitted on the 28th lap for a successful undercut.

Leader Verstappen changed his tyres on the same lap, one later than Hamilton, and two ahead of Ricciardo, and the top three resumed their previous positions after the changes.

Vettel caught Ricciardo on lap 46 but had only one look at passing, four laps later, as the Australian defended successfully.

The victory comes a day after Verstappen’s 20th birthday and ends a winless run dating to the Spanish Grand Prix last season, his first since being promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso.

He remains sixth in the drivers’ standings in a campaign marred by seven retirements.