The grand prix, run in 39C heat, was a nailbiter from start to finish.
Ferrari's nightmare, which rendered Vettel a last starting position in qualifying session, continued on Sunday as Kimi Raikkonen was wheeled away from the grid before the start of the race due to engine failure. "That was absolutely on merit, flawless drive and happy birthday, mate", Verstappen's race engineer said to him over the team radio.
Hamilton stretched his lead over the Ferrari driver to 34 points but lost out to Red Bull's 20-year-old Dutch driver Max Verstappen. However, it is promising to see the vehicle is good, even if both Kimi and I hit trouble. But, as title rival Vettel battled his way forward from the back, Hamilton did not have it all his own way and was soon reeled in and passed by Verstappen at the start of lap four.
The impact smashed the rear left of the Ferrari with potential damage to the gearbox, which would incur a five-place penalty if it needs to be replaced for Japan next weekend. "Stroll wasn't looking where he was going!" "He completely shunted into my auto", Vettel shouted.
"I mean, seriously", said Vettel.
Race stewards declined to blame either. The Dutchman, son of former Formula One racer Jos who made his debut in 2015 and was promoted to Red Bull part way through last year, took his first win on his Red Bull debut in Spain last year.
It's worth mentioning that Sebastian Vettel, who began dead last, carved his way up the field, passing rivals easily and eventually crossing the line in 4th place behind 3rd place man Daniel Ricciardo and 2nd placer Lewis Hamilton. I feel good, but we have some work to do with the vehicle. I saw Lewis was struggling with traction, and e has more to lose in the championship so I went for it! "It is fantastic, a very tough race but of course it is incredible to win".
The Dutchman had a lot of bad luck with auto problems and crashes earlier in the season and failed to finish in more than half of his events. Vettel was involved in a crash after finishing.
"We should have won today but we didn't have the pace", he said.
"We're always going to try and make the fastest race and I don't really know what else".
Behind the top five it was Perez in the Force India in sixth, Vandoorne maintaining his advantage over Alonso in the McLaren in seventh, Stoll and Massa in the Williams next and Ocon in the Force india in the last points place.
Nico Hulkenberg finished just outside the points in 11th with Renault teammate Jolyon Palmer having a scrappy race, including two spins in close succession, the second of which was the result of contact with Kevin Magnussen, and ended up 16th.
"The vehicle had great balance in the second sector, I just had to stay really focused as you can lose a lot of time with the backmarkers and I nearly got taken out in turn 1 when I past two of them (backmarkers)".
After his auto broke down in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel did a great job to go from last to fourth in the Malaysian Grand Prix.