Max Verstappen sealed victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix as Hamilton finished second to extend his championship lead

Max Verstappen celebrates his Malaysian Grand Prix victory. Credit: PA

Red Bull's Max Verstappen sealed victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton finished second to extend his lead in the championship standings.

Hamilton had started on pole for Mercedes but was passed by Verstappen early on and had no answer to the pace of the Dutchman throughout, with the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo taking the final step on the podium.

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

Vettel had started from the back of the grid after an engine problem meant the Ferrari driver could not set a time in qualifying, but he fought hard to finish fourth and limit the damage in the title race.

Vettel had started the weekend promisingly but his race was summed up as he collided with the Williams of Lance Stroll on the in-lap. It left his Ferrari with suspension damage and he hitched a lift on the side of the Sauber of compatriot Pascal Wehrlein.

This was billed as Malaysia's finale in F1 as the event drops off the calendar from next season but for Ferrari, the most successful constructor in the history of the grand prix here with seven wins, it was a race to forget.

Kimi Raikkonen had qualified second with Vettel sidelined and had joked that he wanted to race for longer than he did in Singapore, where he crashed out at the first corner. But he could not even make the start this time around.

A battery issue meant the Finn did not even start the race, leaving pole-sitter Hamilton with a canter down to turn one from the start.

But, as title rival Vettel battled his way forward from the back, Hamilton did not have it all his own way and was soon reeled in and passed by Verstappen at the start of lap four.

Sebastian Vettel started from the back of the grid in Malaysia. Credit: PA

Verstappen, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday, has been strong in qualifying all season but this was just his second podium of 2017 and the second victory of his fledgling Formula One career.

Having been visibly moved as the Dutch national anthem played on the podium, he pointed to his early move on Hamilton as the turning point.

"I think in the beginning the car felt good and I saw Lewis was struggling a bit with traction," he said.

"He (Hamilton) has more to lose than me in the championship so I went for it in turn one and from there I could do my own race. It is amazing, a very tough race but of course it is incredible to win."

Hamilton now holds a 34-point lead over Vettel heading to Japan next Sunday but is keen to keep pushing hard.

"The race was a tough one," he said.

"They (Red Bull) just had the upper hand on us today. I feel good but I think we have got some work to do with the car, obviously we didn't have the pace...we have just got to keep pushing."

Verstappen celebrates with his team after taking the Malaysian Grand Prix. Credit: PA

As Verstappen eked out a lead, Ricciardo was attacking the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas for third place.

A superb battle on lap nine eventually saw the Red Bull get past as Vettel worked his way into the top 10 at the same time.

With cars ahead of him stopping for fresh rubber, Vettel was soon up to sixth as Verstappen continued to extend his gap out at the front.

Hamilton responded by pitting on lap 27 for the soft tyre, with Verstappen covering the undercut with the same move a lap later.

Vettel also pitted having been unable to clear Bottas, who was left behind the German following his own stop.

With new tyres Vettel set fastest lap after fastest lap, obliterating the race lap record at Sepang which has stood since 2004.

But just as he closed within a second of Ricciardo and a place on the podium those tyres gave up on him and he was forced to see out the race behind his former team-mate at Red Bull.

Bottas finished a distant fifth with the Force India of Sergio Perez sixth and Stoffel Vandoorne taking seventh place after a strong drive from the McLaren driver.

Williams pair Lance Stroll and Felipe Massa also scored points in eighth and ninth with Esteban Ocon rounding off the top 10 for Force India.