Malaysia a must-win race for Vettel with Hamilton sitting pretty

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After a disastrous round in Singapore, Sebastian Vettel heads to this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix on the back foot.

The Ferrari ace trails Lewis Hamilton by 28 points following his start-line incident last time out.

Vettel faced similar situations to win the 2010 and 2012 championships, but with just six rounds remaining this year, he can’t afford any more mistakes.

Hamilton heads to Malaysia’s Sepang International Circuit looking for a fourth straight race win, and is the 5/6 favourite.

Vettel is 13/8, with Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas 5/1.

Both Ferrari and Mercedes will have reason to be confident this weekend.

The circuit itself – full of long straights and fast-sweeping bends – will suit the German team’s W08.

But Malaysia’s heat and humidity will play into the strengths of Ferrari’s SF70H, as happened when Vettel won this event in 2015.

As is so often the case however, thunderstorms and rain can’t be ruled out. Indeed, the forecast suggests it’s highly unlikely that the race weekend will pass without rain.

Could that then, open the door for Red Bull duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen?

Ricciardo won this race last year after Hamilton’s engine blew, while both drivers have shown their wet-weather talents previously.

The aerodynamic demands of the Malaysia venue should suit their RB13, although they’re unlikely to be fully on the pace as they were in Singapore.

Nevertheless, Ricciardo is 14/1 for victory and Verstappen 16/1.

Further back we’ll see a new driver on the grid as Pierre Gasly makes his debut Toro Rosso.

The Frenchman has been installed in place of Daniil Kvyat, and 11/4 says he marks his first Grand Prix with a points finish.

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All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publication

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