Lewis Hamilton kicks off the season with victory at the Australian Grand Prix, in yet another Mercedes one-two.
Hamilton held off the challenge from Rosberg to take the victory by 1.3 seconds and start the season with the full 25-points. A very contrasting start to the season for Lewis compared to last year’s early retirement. But before the race even got going today, the grid of 17 fell to just 15 cars. With more and more drivers dropping out across the race, leaving just 11 finishers in Melbourne.
Across the weekend it has been the Mercedes in front by some margin, with Rosberg opening the season with the fastest FP1 and FP2 times. However come Saturday, Lewis stepped into the commanding position and pounded out the fastest laps for the final practice session and qualifying. In fact, Lewis lapped Albert Park over half a second quicker than Rosberg in qualifying and Rosberg sat half a second clear of third place Massa.
Unfortunately Massa’s team mate was the first man to drop out of the race before it even began after Bottas was declared unfit to race. The Finn sustained lower back injuries during qualifying yesterday and went on to carry out numerous tests, before being deemed unfit to race with a small tear in the annular part of a disc in his back.
Bottas was not the only driver to miss the start of the race as Kevin Magnussen brought his McLaren to a smoky halt on his out lap. This could be a worse case scenario for McLaren who have not been running the Honda engine anywhere near full power to avoid loosing an engine.
After two drivers were forced to drop out, the third came soon enough as Kvyat also had to bring his car to a halt on his lap to the grid. It would have been his racing debut for Red Bull but the Russian was forced to miss the race, leaving us with just 15 cars on track.
But come 5am in the UK, or 4pm in Melbourne, the 15 remaining men took the 5 green lights and Formula One was back racing after the winter break!
For Hamilton, a superb start saw no challenge coming his way into turn one. But for everyone else, they bunched up after contact between the two Ferrari’s after Raikkonen slowed. However the biggest looser in the situation was Pastor Maldonado who lost control and came to rest in the barrier. Unfortunately for Lotus, they would go on to see none of their drivers reach the chequered flag as their race was over after just two laps when they wheeled Grosjean into his garage.
After Maldonado’s adventure into the barrier, the first safety car of the year came out. On the restart, Hamilton rocketed away once more yet it was Nasr utilising the restart the best to jump ahead of fellow rookie Carlos Sainz.
As the early laps began to get ticked off, Hamilton maintained his lead over Rosberg by a couple of seconds as the Silver Arrows begun to pull clear of Massa. Meanwhile, Nasr continued to keep the Sauber in a strong position despite the car looking unremarkable over winter testing.
Soon enough the first round of pit stops were underway with Kimi Raikkonen changing his soft tyres for more softs on lap 17. With the fresh boots fitted, he instantly set a new fastest lap and set about catching the men ahead of him while Vettel remained out. The German in the Ferrari eventually pitted on lap 25 and used that to his advantage to leap in front of Massa who was held up by Vettel’s now former team mate, Daniel Ricciardo.
For Carlos Sainz, his Toro Rosso debut had been going relatively well with the Spaniard on the cusp of scoring points. However his race for points was over when a poor pit stop ruined his race. When the team attempted to change his left rear tyre, a problem with the wheel gun meant he sat there watching his had work go to waste.
Whereas Verstappen’s race was completely over after his first pit stop in Formula One. He was set to become the youngest driver ever to score a point in the sport, after becoming the youngest ever to drive in F1. But immediately after leaving the pit lane, the engine blew up and smoke billowed from the car.
Now just 12 men remained on track, but seven laps later and that number fell to 11 as Raikkonen pulled his Ferrari to the side of the track. Kimi had just pitted for his second stop due to needing to run the medium compound tyres. But the left rear tyre had not been attached, causing the Finn to retire and promote Button into tenth.
However the unlikely point scoring finish for McLaren failed to prevail when Jenson lost P10 to Perez and fell down the road. Later on, Jenson radioed in to say he had big problems on downshifts but remained on track to finish the race in eleventh.
Out at the front of the field, the battle between Hamilton and Rosberg was far from a battle with both taking it relatively easy. Meaning Lewis took the first win of the season in a Mercedes 1-2.
33 seconds behind the Silver Arrows came Sebastian Vettel who claimed a podium finish in his Ferrari debut. The German managed to comfortably sit in P3 after gaining it on lap 25 when he overtook Massa in the pit stop phase. Massa himself was only 3.7 seconds down on Vettel but an incredible 57 seconds clear of Felipe Nasr in fifth.
A phenomenal debut result for Nasr in the Sauber to claim fifth place. But things could have ended in a far different way for the team, after a week of court appearances in the battle with Giedo van der Garde.
- Hamilton (25 points)
- Rosberg (+1.4 seconds)
- Vettel (+33.2)
- Massa (+3.7)
- Nasr (+57)
- Ricciardo (+12.2)
- Hulkenberg (+36.4)
- Ericsson (+14.8)
- Sainz (+6.6)
- Perez (+12.3)
- Button (+38.3)
- Raikkonen (Did Not Finish)
- Verstappen (DNF)
- Grosjean (DNF)
- Maldonado (DNF)
- Kvyat (Did Not Start)
- Magnussen (DNS)