Hamilton wins as Vettel crashes

Lewis Hamilton led team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a dominant one-two at the Italian Grand Prix just two weeks ago. AFP

"We knew coming here it would be hard", he told Sky Sports F1.

Ferrari, who are favoured at high-downforce circuits, are certainly in the frame for victory contention, as are Red Bull - while Mercedes AMG brace for struggles.

All nine races here in the past have been action-packed with the intervention of safety vehicle and it was no different this time.

Bottas signed a new one-year extension to remain as Hamilton's team-mate next year earlier this week, but the Finn has struggled for pace all weekend and was an eye-watering 1.3 secs slower than Vettel. "I knew I had the pace when it rains, but unfortunately we just didn't have the auto in the dry, but today with it raining, those are my conditions that I love to drive in".

Red Bull looked to have the edge ahead of qualifying having been quickest again in practice this morning. The auto was tricky but it became better and better and the vehicle came alive.

"Honestly, I think it's going to be very close in the next races", he said, warning that Ferrari would be particularly strong in Japan and Brazil.

"I'm still full of adrenaline so maybe whatever I say doesn't make any sense", a breathless Vettel, who let out a loud whoop of joy over the team-radio, said immediately after qualifying.

On the other hand, Ferrari is hoping to be the leader of the championship after the night race, as the German driver Vettel got a huge advantage after the qualifier and could surpass his rival Hamilton on the championship list.

Vettel, who was on the outside and moved over to cover the inside line as Verstappen and Raikkonen approached on his left, said it was not clear what had happened.

In the session the last 90 minutes, Ricciardo registered the fastest lap (1:42.489) during his second flying lap on his second set of ultra-soft tyres.

Next up in the calendar is the Malaysian Grand Prix in a fortnight.

"I should start sooner than later to finish ahead of them, as the season end is coming closer", he said.

"We remain hopeful. I got everything I could out of the auto". The safety auto was issued to deal with the stricken Ferrari and Red Bull cars, and it returned again, when Daniil Kvyat crashed out on lap 11, and then again on lap 38 after Marcus Ericsson spun on the Anderson Bridge. "But I'm sure there'll be more opportunities".

In addition, at a circuit not reliant on power, they managed to get both cars inside the top 10 with Fernando Alonso to start eighth and Stoffel Vandoorne ninth.