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5 talking points ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix

We looks at the major talking points ahead of the final race at Sepang.

F1 28/09/17 12:36
5 talking points ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix

The fight for the Formula One World Championship moves on to Malaysia this weekend with the race expected to be the last held at the Sepang circuit.

Dwindling support from both spectators and local government means the Malaysian Grand Prix will drop off the calendar after this year.

Ahead of the race, Press Association Sport looks at the major talking points as the season rolls on.

Another one bites the dust

Although Japan was an established destination in the world of F1, the introduction of the Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999 heralded a new dawn in the sport. Tracks across Asia and the world sprang up in the ensuing years but few managed to follow in the footsteps of Suzuka and Fuji. Races in Turkey, India and South Korea came and went largely unnoticed and now Malaysia, with the bright lights of the Singapore night-race just down the road, is falling by the wayside. There have been memorable moments and title-defining incidents throughout the history of the race and it would be great if Sepang could go out with a bang.

Lewis hoping history does not repeat…

One of those title-defining memories came here last year as Lewis Hamilton suffered an engine failure while leading the race. His Mercedes team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg had collided with Sebastian Vettel at the start and fallen to the back. Hamilton was on course to leapfrog the German in the standings before his engine gave up on lap 40. Rosberg recovered to finish third and took the drivers’ title away from Hamilton come the end of the year.

…but will want recent record to keep playing

Hamilton heads to Sepang 28 points clear of closest challenger Vettel after a hat-trick of wins moved him into pole position for a fourth world title. His victory less than 300 miles south in Singapore a fortnight ago could yet prove vital as Vettel retired following an opening-lap shunt. A fourth straight win and Hamilton will be homing in on regaining the crown he lost to Rosberg in 2016.

Nagging doubts grow over prancing horse’s title credentials

Vettel has looked like giving Hamilton a run for his money for much of the season but recent results have left him lingering. While Hamilton heads to Malaysia in fine form, Vettel has won only one of the last eight races. The German has only made the podium in half of the races during that time and his early retirement in Singapore means he needs to come out fighting if he is to claim a fifth title.

Toro Rosso put their foot on the Gasly

Away from the battle at the very front of the field, it will be interesting to see how Pierre Gasly performs on his F1 debut. The reigning GP2 champion replaces out-of-form Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso in Sepang as the 21-year-old Red Bull protege is put through his paces. With Kvyat under pressure and Carlos Sainz departing for Renault next season, there is a permanent race-seat potentially in the offing if the Frenchman can impress.

F1

Champion-elect Lewis Hamilton not impressed by victory cigar

Champion-elect Lewis Hamilton not impressed by victory cigar

Champion-elect Lewis Hamilton not impressed by victory cigar

Champion-elect Lewis Hamilton not impressed by victory cigar

Champion-elect Lewis Hamilton not impressed by victory cigar

Champion-elect Lewis Hamilton not impressed by victo...

A fifth-place finish in Mexico will secure Hamilton’s fourth world title.

A fifth-place finish in Mexico will secure Hamilton’s fourth world title.

A fifth-place finish in Mexico will secure Hamilton’s fourth world title.

A fifth-place finish in Mexico will secure Hamilton’s fourth world title.

A fifth-place finish in Mexico will secure Hamilton’s fourth world title.

A fifth-place finish in Mexico will secure Hamilton’s fourth world title.