Ferrari took control at the start of Sunday’s 2016 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, but a mid-race stop after a huge accident involving Fernando Alonso turned the race on its head, helping Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to take victory.
Lewis Hamilton recovered from a bad start to finish second, while Sebastian Vettel led into Turn 1 and looked very much in charge prior to the red flags.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, and the Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen completed the top ten, with Renault’s Jolyon Palmer narrowly missing out on a point in his maiden Grand Prix.
McLaren's Alonso and Haas's Esteban Gutierrez were thankfully able to walk away from a huge crash at Turn 3 which caused the red flags on lap 19.
Up until that moment it was Ferrari who held the cards, Vettel and Raikkonen having burst between the two Silver Arrows to snatch a one-two away from the start.
Hamilton’s slow start compounded by losing further positions and possibly some front wing endplate, with Verstappen and Massa both able to push him from pole to seventh.
Following a 20-minute break to clear the debris from Alonso and Gutierrez's crash, the race restarted with Ferrari still on a two-stop strategy of using supersoft tyres. Mercedes had gone conservative and selected the mediums, meaning Ferrari would need to pit again and Mercedes wouldn't.
It was soon clear that Vettel was not going to open up the gap that he needed for a final stop, and when that came Rosberg, Hamilton and a feisty Ricciardo overtook the Ferrari.
The Briton's attention instead went on protecting his position as Vettel closed in. With seven laps to go the pair were split by just half a second but Vettel could not engineer a move.
There were several retirements besides Alonso and Gutierrez, Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat hit problems and retired even before getting to the grid, while Manor's Rio Haryanto went out with driveline problems and Raikkonen retired soon after the restart with suspected turbo failure which led to a spectacular fire in his Ferrari's airbox.
First Grand Prix - 1996
Number of Laps - 58
Circuit Length - 5.303KM
Race Distance - 307.574KM
Lap Record - 1:24.125by Michael Schumacher (2004)
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