Hamilton, loving life, seeks last hurrah in Malaysia

Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in the Malaysian GP final practice. Clive Mason  Getty Images

The 37-year-old Raikkonen is fifth in the 2017 drivers' standings with 138 points, while Vettel is in the second spot with 235 points, 28 behind leader Hamilton.

Hamilton started last year's race in Malaysia on pole position and led before the engine expired.

Hamilton has tasted victory only once in Sepang, back in 2014, and with the race being hosted in the country for the last time this represents his final chance to improve that record.

"Obviously we had a good race there a year ago and it's going to be the last time we're in KL, at least in the near future, so we'll try and finish strong". Not a great day as you can imagine but the response from the whole team has been very positive.

"I don't think he would have been fussed by it". We trialled some new components on Fernando's vehicle today, and they look to be a useful new addition.

Hamilton, now top of the drivers' standings with 263 points after 14 rounds wants to redeem himself as he did not achieve a great result in Sepang a year ago.

Over the 56 laps of the 5.543-kilometre track, Mercedes will relish two long straights which should play to their power-advantage over Ferrari.

"I think there are opportunities all over [to make a political stand]", he said.

"They are taking away the toughest, if not the toughest race of the season", Hamilton said. "So if nothing goes wrong with the vehicle then he's in a really strong position". Ferrari are strong, Mercedes are a bit odd for now but I'm sure they'll get quicker tomorrow so we need to improve.

"It feels awesome, honestly. It's hard to sell this kind of event and to get bums on the seat, and it's not worth the investment at the moment", he told the news agency on the sidelines of the free practice session at the track yesterday.

The car of Haas driver Romain Grosjean is lifted to a tow truck after an accident during the second practice session ahead of the Malaysian GP. Ahmad Ysni  EPA
Lewis Hamilton takes pole position for Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel last

"There is no real target".

"I'll have a quick stop in Tokyo on the way to Suzuka". I'm going to try and make sure that was the last one. "I've been dreaming about this weekend so many times and it's finally happening".

Mistakes on some level are unavoidable but the severity of Vettel sandwiching Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Singapore can not be underestimated in terms of the title.

It'll be the last time a Grand Prix will be raced at Sepang after 19 seasons.

First, the previous weeks' Formula One "What to Watch" articles stressed how tight the points race was heading into Singapore.

There has also been controversy.

The session was red-flagged and ended just under 10 minutes early when Romain Grosjean crashed his Haas heavily having hit the drain cover. The Australian was furious.

Before Sepang's swansong on Sunday though, there's still plenty to discuss on and off the track in Malaysia.

On pure pace, particularly with Hamilton at the wheel, Mercedes has tended to be very strong at Sepang in F1's V6 hubrid turbo era.

His team mate Kimi Raikkonen was sure there was more to come from the team over the rest of the weekend. "I don't know whether he feels pressure".