Ten years on from Kimi Raikkonen’s victory at Albert Park, Scuderia Ferrari has returned to winning ways in Melbourne in the first race of the season!
After following polesitter Hamilton throughout the race’s opening stages, Vettel leapfrogged the Mercedes at the first round of pit stops. From there Vettel never looked back, taking the chequered flag almost 10 seconds clear of Hamilton to clinch Ferrari’s first win since Singapore 2015, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
Hamilton lead the start, leaving Vettel to chase him, but the Mercedes had consumed its ultrasoft Pirelli tyres after 17 laps, whereas Vettel managed to get his to the 22nd lap before making his sole pit stop.
Hamilton was set in a position to regain the lead, but he came out of the pits behind Max Verstappen’s fifth placed Red Bull, and simply could not pass it despite running on fresher rubber. Vettel was able to make his stop and emerge still in the lead
Hamilton did what he could, while coping with what he thought might be a floor problem and some intermittent power surges, which meant he also had to keep an eye on team mate Bottas who, having fallen well behind the two leaders in the opening stages, was coming back strongly in the second half of the race.
In the end, though, there was no way either could challenge the red car, as Ferrari scored a hugely important victory which ushered in the new era of F1 in the most popular way, as far as many fans round the world were concerned.
Raikkonen never gave the top three a moment’s concern and finished a distant and uncompetitive fourth, challenged at one stage by Verstappen until he woke up and set the fastest lap on the penultimate tour.
Vettel leads the drivers’ points table with 25 points to Hamilton’s 18, Bottas’ 15, Raikkonen’s 12, Verstappen’s 10, Massa’s eight, Perez’s six, Sainz’s four, Kvyat’s two and Ocon’s one.
Ferrari head the constructors’ stakes with 37 points to Mercedes’ 33, as Red Bull have 10, Williams eight, Force India seven and Toro Rosso six.
First Grand Prix -
Number of Laps - 58
Circuit Length - 5.303KM
Race Distance - 307.574KM
Lap Record - 1:24.125 by Michael Schumacher (2004)
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