Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton waves at the crowd following the completion of the Formula One Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit. Pic by OSMAN ADNAN.

SEPANG: Championship leader Lewis Hamilton admitted that the Mercedes AMG Petronas cars still have a lot of room for improvement.

Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas were clearly off the pace over the weekend at Sepang though the former managed to snatch pole and second place in the race after both the Ferrari's cars struggled with turbocharger issues.

The Brit, who is leading the championship with a 34 point advantage, said he hopes to iron out the issues face by the team in the next few races.

"We knew Ferrari had eight tenths (seconds fast per lap) on us, it did not surprise us. Circuits like this (Sepang) have corners that really magnifies issues we have with the car," said Hamilton, who switched back to an older aero package on Saturday.

"We struggled with pace as you could see but it was still good enough to get second. Valtteri (Bottas) seemed to struggle a bit more but I managed to get a little more out of it.

"The car is good in some places in others the issues, we do have some big problems with it.

"We still have work to do but I think it is a fundamental issue with this actual year's car and we will try and improve it.

"These next races are going to be crucial to see whether we are going to able to iron out the creases we have in the car."

Hamilton, who suffered battery issues among others, lead the Petronas Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix for four laps though was unable to fend off eventual winner Max Verstappen who had much stronger pace in the Red Bull.

The teams will next head to Suzuka (Oct 6-8) and Circuit of the Americas (Oct 20-22).

Additional reporting by SAIFUL AFFENDY SAPRAN

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