Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix after a superb strategy call left title favourite Lewis Hamilton a long way behind.
In truth, the Ferrari did look the best car, however they had to do it the hard way after Hamilton get off the line brilliantly from pole. Lap 1 would not go without incident, however, as Magnussen shunted Ericsson off the track at turn 1.
The drama had already started before the race, though. Ricciardo had a gearbox problem and had to start from the pitlane, falling 2 laps down before he got out on track.
The first stint was all about Hamilton and Vettel. They eased away from the trailing field, with the Mercedes man clearly holding a slight edge. Later on in the stint, however, Vettel started closing in and sat behind just within DRS range. Otherwise, it was a fairly quiet start, Alonso making his way to 11th place early on.
The crucial moment came surprisingly early. Hamilton came in very early on lap 18, Vettel staying out. Unfortunately for Mercedes, Lewis came out 2 seconds behind Verstappen and closed in with ease. The new regulations and the famous Mercedes issues meant that Hamilton was unable to overtake. When Vettel came in a good few laps later, the overcut worked to perfection and he got out ahead of Hamilton.
Once Verstappen finally pit, Hamilton had lost a good 6 seconds to Vettel. Lower down, Palmer and most unfortunately Grosjean became casualties of the race, the Frenchman having to stop from a good points position. At his home race, an engine failure ended Ricciardo’s race, which didn’t really get going. Lap 30 and Raikkonen still led Verstappen for P4, with Kvyat doing well in 6th.
The main problem for Hamilton was the tyres. He complained about tyre grip throughout, and Bottas was beginning to catch. It was an impressive drive from the new Mercedes driver, joining the team following world-champion Rosberg’s retirement.
In his debut race, Lance Stroll became another causality of the race, retiring after a large off-track moment. With 10 laps to go, another issue came for Hamilton, with power dropping in and out. Magnussen then followed Grosjean out of the race, so it was a double DNF for Haas.
Out in front, though, it was plain sailing for Vettel. He controlled the gap with the utmost ease, and was heading for his first win since Singapore 2015. The best moment of the race then followed, with Ocon, Hulkenburg and Alonso going nearly 3 wide through turn 1, with Ocon emerging ahead from Hulkenburg. Alonso then decided to drop out of the race.
In a race of little action, Vettel eased home to take a quite brilliant win, and the championship lead. Hamilton was content with P2, with Bottas an impressive 3rd. Raikkonen held off Verstappen for 4th place. Massa, Perez, Sainz, Kvyat and Ocon rounded out the points. Stepping in very late for Wehrlein, it was a great job from Giovinazzi to finish in 12th.
- Alonso (DNF)
- Magnussen (DNF)
- Stroll (DNF)
- Ricciardo (DNF)
- Ericsson (DNF)
- Palmer (DNF)
- Grosjean (DNF)
Featured image: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/f1-australian-grand-prix-2017-live/news-story/c82d1965937ca49e012b87885c06d952