Kuala Lumpur: Lewis Hamilton’s bid to win a fourth championship is hanging in the balance after a cruel engine failure robbed him of victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton was on course to cruise to the 50th victory of his career at a sweltering Sepang and move at least five points clear of his sole rival Nico Rosberg, who fought back to finish third following a first-corner collision with Sebastian Vettel, in the championship race. But with 15 laps remaining, Hamilton’s Mercedes engine blew up in the most dramatic of circumstances to hand victory to Daniel Ricciardo with his team-mate Max Verstappen following him home to seal Red Bull’s first one-two finish in nearly three years.
Rosberg, who served what turned out to be a meaningless 10-second elapsed penalty following a banzai move on Kimi Raikkonen, is now 23 points clear of Hamilton with just five rounds remaining. Talk of conspiracy has never been far away all year. Hamilton’s fans are convinced that Mercedes have been contriving to give this championship to Rosberg. And Hamilton did nothing to dispel the conspiracy theories when he spoke after the race.
“I’ve just got to move on. I just can’t believe that there’s eight Mercedes cars and only my engines are the ones that have gone this way. Something just doesn’t feel right,” he said.
“It was a brand new engine it is what it is. It’s just odd, there’s been like 43 engines for Mercedes and only mine have gone.
“Right now I don’t even know if my car’s going to make it. I know we’ve got it in us but who knows what the next engines that I have are going to do.
“My question is to Mercedes. We have so many engines made for drivers, but mine are the only ones failing this year. Someone need to give me some answers because this is not acceptable.
“We are fighting for the championship and only my engines are failing. It does not sit right with me. I will try and recollect myself and try to get myself together for the race next week.
“There are many decisive races but this is one of those. Someone doesn’t want me to win this year but I won’t give up. I will keep pushing.”