Ferrari's woes continued with Kimi Raikkonen retiring before the start of Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix and teammate Sebastian Vettel starting from the back of the grid after engine problems on Saturday.
"I can't see Lewis finishing second in the next four races - I think he'll win a few of them".
The Ferrari driver's championship-leading title rival Lewis Hamilton was only sixth fastest in the afternoon, as he had been in the first session, ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas with both Mercedes drivers reporting a general lack of grip.
"There wasn't really much I could do there and I really had to make a decision when Max was closing down, make the decision not to fight him and risk him crashing into me because he's going to give it everything, he's got nothing to lose wheras I have everything to lose". We have been able to some extent put Malaysia on the map of the world by hosting the F1 race.
Track crew lifts the vehicle of Haas driver Romain Grosjean of France after it crashed out on Turn 14 during the second practice for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix in Sepang, Malaysia, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017.
"I think it's open for anyone to have freedom of speech", Mercedes driver Hamilton said.
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"I don't want to be sandwiched", said Verstappen, pincered by the Ferraris in the opening-lap Singapore crash.
Hamilton and Mercedes endured a tricky Friday with an upgraded vehicle, prompting the decision to switch the championship leader back to an old spec to compare to teammate Valtteri Bottas' auto in FP3.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was confident the issue would be taken care of. We went back to one vehicle trying one, the other auto trying the other.
"I believe we have a strong package and we are full of confidence".
"I think in the dry the podium is there, especially with Vettel down at the back", he said, wary of the ever-present possibility of rain in tropical Sepang.
Verstappen's Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo, last year's victor at Sepang, finished third.
After a restless Friday night, Lewis Hamilton admits he was not expecting to find enough time to claim pole for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
"You want every little millisecond you can get but there wasn't really enough time so we ended up staying with it and also it was kind of a risk, changing the auto again for qualifying and maybe getting something wrong and so we just. that was really why we ended up staying with it".