SEPANG, Malaysia, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen failed to start the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday, handing Lewis Hamilton a further chance of extending his overall lead in the Formula One world championship.
The Finn, who had qualified second and was set to start on the front row alongside Mercedes’ pole-sitter Hamilton, reported a loss of power on his lap to the grid.
Ferrari wheeled his car into the garage and tried to fix the problem but Raikkonen, who took his first grand prix win at the Sepang circuit with McLaren in 2003, was forced to retire.
The 37-year-old’s problem came after engine trouble prevented team mate Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton’s closest rival with six races remaining, from setting a time in qualifying on Saturday.
The German, who trails the Briton by 28 points in the overall standings, started in last place and Ferrari had hoped Raikkonen could challenge Hamilton’s Mercedes as Vettel fought his way up the order.
The Italian team could at least take some heart from Hamilton struggling for pace in the opening laps, with the triple champion losing the lead to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the fourth lap.
Hamilton, who failed to finish in Malaysia last year due to an engine failure, also complained of a temporary loss of power from his battery.
Vettel had moved up to fifth place after 22 of the 56 laps. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle; Editing by Alan Baldwin/John O‘Brien)