Valtteri Bottas has beaten his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take a dominating victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The Finn overtook his teammate from second on the grid building a gap of more than twenty seconds and set fastest lap to take a maximum number of points and lead the champion by eight points.
Bottas narrowly lost out on pole on Saturday but managed to chase down his teammate into Turn One and past him. He continued to lead the race from the front to build a twenty-second lead over his teammate. Hamilton never seemed comfortable, the five-time champion struggled with a damaged car and only held off Max Verstappen.
The race for Mercedes was a surprise they had expected to be on the backfoot, but the team has managed to top every session and repeat their victory ten years ago. Verstappen also shone, the Red Bull driver sealing Honda’s first podium since Silverstone in 2008.
Bottas told Sky Sports “I’ve never had a race like this with such a lead. I just had a really good feeling with the car today. I could’ve gone quicker in qualifying and in the end, I couldn’t but Lewis could, but overall it’s today that matters.”
Hamilton said “It is a good weekend for the team. A really fantastic job from everyone. Valtteri drove an incredible race and he really enjoyed it. Lost position at the start, that was a little disappointing, but I will just train and work hard for the next one.”
Ferrari went into this weekend as the favourites, but questions are being asked about the performance of the car after a strong winter the team hasn’t managed to fight Mercedes all weekend.
Verstappen breezed past Sebastian Vettel into Turn Three six laps after his stop and set after Hamilton but was unable to challenge. An off-track moment with nine laps to go ended Verstappen’s challenge. He said “On the first tyres, as soon as you got within 1.5 seconds the tyres overheated and I couldn’t place an attack.
Vettel was locked into battle with new teammate Charles Leclerc, despite a number of minor errors, but thanks to a late pit stop the Monacan closed the gap to his teammate. But, Leclerc appeared to back off once he had closed on his team-mate.
Kevin Magnussen finished the race best of the rest in sixth for Haas. But the teams’ race was a case of history repeating itself for Romain Grosjean, as with last years race the Frenchman retired for the race with a mistake by the team during the stop.
Nico Hulkenberg led the best of the rest field taking seventh, abet a lap down on the race leaders. A good recovery from his early exit in qualifying to come through to lead class b.
A new start for Daniel Ricciardo, another Aussie horror show on his first outing for a new team at Albert Park. His home Grand Prix saw his race start with him going wide into Turn One, causing him to lose his front wing. He retired in nineteenth.
Ricciardo told BBC News “I’m gutted for sure, I hit a gutter sometimes you feel you can get away with that at every other track. I just moved, dropped my wheel on the grass, then I felt a big bump and thought something would happen into turn one and it did. It is hard, especially at home. The whole week is full on and I’m pretty flat right now.”
Kimi Raikkonen led a threesome of drivers on their first outings for new teams in eighth ahead of Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat on his return to Toro Rosso. The Russian rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso on his return to Formula One.
Pierre Gasly recovered from eighteenth fighting his way through the field to fight back to eleventh place, after Red Bull misjudged the track evolution in qualifying.
Lando Norris failed to match his impressive qualifying slipping back to twelfth. The Bristolian losing places on the first lap and then got stuck in a trail of car after his stop to finish ahead of Sergio Perez’s racing point and fellow British-Thai Alex Albon.
As expected, it was low key afternoon for Williams, last of the race finishers with George Russell sixteenth and. Robert Kubica seventeenth. Russell was very strong on his debut comprehensively out-paced team-mate Robert Kubica, who damaged his front wing on the first lap.
- Australian GP – Qualifying Result
- AUSTRALIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton takes sixth back to back pole as Ferrari’s pace vanishes
- AUSTRALIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton continues to edge out Valtteri Bottas in second practice
- AUSTRALIAN GP – Lewis Hamilton pips Sebastian Vettel in first practice by three-hundredths of a second
- Prixview – Australian Grand Prix