In a freaky incident, the Williams of Lance Stroll seemed to hit the back of Vettel's auto. With the drive shaft torn from the auto also, it was suspected that the Ferrari's gearbox would have suffered enough damage to warrant replacement. "This is motor racing and that's what makes it exciting, it can go against anybody".
They could have a role to play in the title race, yet.
It was purely damage limitation, as he drifted 34 points behind Lewis Hamilton in the title race, but it softened the blow for Ferrari. Things are looking up on this front as Ferrari said yesterday that they believe Vettel will avoid a penalty for a gearbox change after his cooldown lap collision with Lance Stroll in Malaysia. It has already been announced Honda will end their partnership with McLaren at the end of the season and will instead provide power units to Toro Rosso next year. FP1 also saw young Frenchman Pierre Gasly replace Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso.
"In motorsport, you have good days and bad days and he has had quite a few bad days this year".
"This was a day I will never forget!" "I thought you were better than that". Vettel, too, was quicker than his championship adversary for much of the race.
"But we really need make sure we rectify them for next year's vehicle if we're going to have any chance of fighting both these teams next year when they step up their game", added the Briton. This will give us the opportunity to evaluate Pierre on track during a proper race weekend.
Red Bull was also quicker.
Here, we look at the main talking points heading into what could prove to be a pivotal race in this season's championship fight.
But now, just to complicate the issue, Red Bull have started to find the sweet spot of their hitherto disappointing RB13. Whether he would be able to pass him was a moot point.
Owned by the Honda Motor Company, Suzuka represents a different challenge, with more high-speed corners than Sepang and high levels of tyre wear and degradation expected.
"On paper the Ferrari is the fastest auto, followed by the Red Bull and then us", the Austrian had observed after qualifying.
Not in Kansas anymore, Toto?
"We have built our advantage over Ferrari in the last two races because of them shunting out in Singapore, Sebastian's engine problems in qualifying, and Kimi's problems in the race", Wolff said Sunday in the Mercedes motorhome.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton makes a victory sign after securing pole position in qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix on Saturday at Sepang.
Being away from the usual comforts brought by being a frontrunner, however, does not appear to be dampening Wolff's resolve.
Even then, three Ferrari one-two finishes in succession would still see Hamilton lead the championship into the penultimate round if he finishes third every time.
An analysis of the engine of Vettel's vehicle showed that the problem lay in a broken manifold that fed air from the compressor to the internal combustion unit.
"We have some work to do", he added before flying to Japan to prepare for Sunday's race at Suzuka.
Hamilton had won in Singapore after Vettel, Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen crashed out at the start and he was fortuitous here in Sepang when Vettel was unable to set a time in qualifying due to engine trouble. It's great to see them performing so well and we want them to be closer.
"Lewis has made the most of every opportunity in recent weeks; he has been in fantastic form, particularly since the summer break, and is driving with a flawless balance of aggression right now". Alonso again finished ahead of the Mercedes in a session where the Silver Arrows struggled with their auto set up.