Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

There has been a lot of speculation about how all of the hard work over the winter will pay off. Has Mercedes still got .7s advantage over the Ferraris? Were they sand bagging during testing? Is the unique nature of the Australian Grand Prix circuit through Albert Park in Melbourne be flattering the Silver Arrows? Sunday would be the day we find out.

Clear blue skies and warm weather met the grid in Australia and Lewis was on pole with his teammate and Sebastian Vettel behind him. For the 24th time, Melbourne plays host to formula 1 and this year, there will 20 more races after this weekend to determine the 2019 champion.

In the end, Valtteri Bottas jumped his teammate, Lewis Hamilton and cruised to a dominant victory in Australia. Bottas finished nearly a minute ahead of Ferrari and over 20s ahead of Red Bull as well as Lewis Hamilton.

Win

A huge win for Valtteri Bottas who, six years to the day he entered F1, jumped Lewis at the start and never looked back. HE finished the race 21.600s ahead of his teammate and won the opening race of the season opening his account to be champion, prove he deserves his ride and beat his much vaunted teammate, Lewis Hamilton. Valtteri needed this win. He needed this confidence. He worked very hard all winter break on fitness and building confidence and it showed in his performance on Sunday. He took fast lap and a total 26 points.

A win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen who managed a podium finish and may have had a shot at Lewis before he ran wide trying to catch him. Still, the Honda delivered enough power to keep Red Bull on the podium instead of putting them back in the clutches of Renault. That’s a big win for Red Bull who waded into the unknown waters of Honda power.

A win for Kevin Magnussen who avoided the wheel issues his teammate had and managed to bring his Haas F1 home in 6th as best of the rest and that’s a strong message for Renault who had Nico Hulkenberg in 7th.

A win for Lance Stroll who brought his Racing Point home in 9th for a couple points and even Daniil Kvyat in 10th for Toro Rosso.

A win for the midfield and possibly the new wing changes that seemed to close the midfield up and allow them to race more in Australia. A good battle form 7th down to 10th for the final point.

Fail

A fail for Ferrari who were woefully off the pace of Mercedes. Doing some quick math(s), I reckon the .7s gap that Hamilton had over Vettel in qualifying is a real delta if you multiple the laps by .7s, you get an overall gap between the race winner and Vettel that seems to validate the actual performance difference. Everyone is quick to say it’s just the circuit and Ferrari will do better in China but I’m not convinced yet. There was a lot of chin-stroking at Ferrari and for good reason.

A fail for Lewis Hamilton who was beaten off the line by his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and couldn’t hang with the pace of the Fin.

A fail for local hero Dan Ricciardo, or more to the point, a fail for the service road curb height as it took Dan’s entire front wing off at the start of the race. Dan retired on lap 31 for a miserable home grand prix.

A fail for McLaren/Renault with a fire in Carlos Saniz’s engine and a DNF on lap 11. It took a while for Carlos to exit the car but they did manage to get the fire out safely.

A fail for front left wheels, or wheel guns or wheel nuts as a few teams struggled with them and Romain Grosjean retired his Haas F1 on lap 32 with a front left tire coming loose. A fail for Williams who finished dead last but then I think we all expected that.

A fail for F1 Tv that had audio balance issues, no audio for the “pit lane” view and onboards were not working. Service was buffering a lot for me over the entire weekend but for the race, it worked well barring those issues I mentioned.

WTH

Not sure what happened to Antonio Giovinazzi but the race strategy left him out long and he struggled in 15th.

Also not sure what happened to Sergio Perez other than getting stuck behind Giovinazzi and he lost a lot of time to be mired out of the points.

For me, the point for fastest lap isn’t something I’m that jazzed about but boy were the teams all focused on it. Lewis said he wanted it, Valtteri said he wanted it and Max Verstappen wanted it. Valtteri got it and took an 8-point lead over Lewis.

A WTH for the world’s smallest Parc Fermé that didn’t have enough room for the top three cars.

Australian GP results

POS DRIVER CAR LAPS GAP
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 1h25m27.325s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 20.886s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 58 22.520s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 58 57.109s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58 58.230s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 58 1m27.156s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 57 1 Lap
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 57 1 Lap
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point/Mercedes 57 1 Lap
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Honda 57 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Red Bull/Honda 57 1 Lap
12 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 57 1 Lap
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point/Mercedes 57 1 Lap
14 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso/Honda 57 1 Lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 57 1 Lap
16 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 56 2 Laps
17 Robert Kubica Williams/Mercedes 55 3 Laps
Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 29 Suspension
Daniel Ricciardo Renault 28 Retirement
Carlos Sainz McLaren/Renault 9 Power Unit

Driver’s Points

POS DRIVER POINTS
1 Valtteri Bottas 26
2 Lewis Hamilton 18
3 Max Verstappen 15
4 Sebastian Vettel 12
5 Charles Leclerc 10
6 Kevin Magnussen 8
7 Nico Hulkenberg 6
8 Kimi Raikkonen 4
9 Lance Stroll 2
10 Daniil Kvyat 1
11 Pierre Gasly 0
12 Lando Norris 0
13 Sergio Perez 0
14 Alexander Albon 0
15 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
16 George Russell 0
17 Robert Kubica 0

Constructor’s Points

POS CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Mercedes 44
2 Ferrari 22
3 Red Bull/Honda 15
4 Haas/Ferrari 8
5 Renault 6
6 Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 4
7 Racing Point/Mercedes 2
8 Toro Rosso/Honda 1
9 McLaren/Renault 0
10 Williams/Mercedes 0

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Fabio
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Fabio

As I said in regards to quali, having Ocon in the garage was a clear motivation for Bottas.
Oh I doubt if Kubica will last out the season. He was so slow, and that wasn’t just the car, he was dead weight.

Tom Firth
Editor
Tom Firth

I’ll have to try and see more of the race before do F1Chat but my trackside experience was fantastic this weekend from what I could see. Aus GP organisers put on a really good well organised event over the four days, Parc ferme issue aside it sounds. I’ll sort out some pictures and words tomorrow and upload them in an editorial post.

Congrats to Valterri Bottas.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

….and a win for Honda who finally delivered the goods when they needed it the most.

….and a fail for Robert Kubica who probably should have stayed home.

….and a WTH for the FIA for giving us all the bonus lap point that might have been a bit “pointless”.

Steve Wyatt
Member
Steve Wyatt

Already feeling like Merc might have it in the bag.

Juho-Matti Kallio
Member
Juho-Matti Kallio

As a Finn one of the best things about this race was the extremely forced smile from Esteban Ocon who was hovering behind Toto the whole race.

To be fair he does deserve a seat but I think even he was starting to believe he was going to have Valtteris seat before Barcelona.

Fast Freddy
Member
Fast Freddy

If Ferrari can’t answer Vettel’s question “Why are we so slow?” it’s going to be a very long season for them.

B52RockLobster
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B52RockLobster

I think the true gap of Ferrari to Mercedes is around 25s for this race. For whatever reason Ferrari called in VET early for tires, which ultimately lost him 20+s. This also caused HAM to lose a similar amount of time to BOT, which was ultimately illustrated in their respective gaps.

Either way this still shows Mercedes is dominating even more than last year which is very disappointing.

Gary
Guest
Gary

Dreams that died today:
Kubica, Giovanazzi, Gasly, Ocon
McLaren

Mike
Member
Mike

Some of my 2019 predictions after race 1: 1) Lewis will be scary this year. Apparently the car speed difference was due to floor damage, so i’m basing this on: the factor that Bottas has stepped up his game to challenge LH, and Lewis needs this. Bottas was not sure why he was fast, Lewis had clear ideas why he was not (chassis set up abilities) and most of all? That 2018 Post-Spa look was all over LH just after the first race in 2019. 2) Charles will be challenging Vettel clearly. I think Ferrari will impose orders like we… Read more »

jtr
Member
jtr

Dr Marko has to be asking himself right now, does he have to get Kvyat fitted for that Red Bull racing suit, or does he still have the measurements written down somewhere? That was seriously embarrassing for Gasly, not only was he not able to get past an Kvyat inferior car, but then he finally passed Kvyat in the pit and then was promptly re-passed on the track. We all know how short Marko is on patience with his drivers. Gasly better have some good races very soon or he’ll find himself right back in the Toro Rosso.

Tim C.
Guest
Tim C.

Interesting race . . . especially in the mid-field. Very much enjoyed those battles. However, before I give Merc the 2019 titles, I want to see a few more races. Testing is one thing, but it’s no substitute for actual race conditions. Aside from Williams, all these teams can use the data gathered today and get better. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next race shows us something different.

GrumpyGrizz
Member
GrumpyGrizz

The race was more interesting that I thought it would be. Good on Bottas for finally coming out of his dry spell. I felt bad for Daniel, but you play off the track (in the grass) you sometimes get punished. I didn’t think the extra point for fastest lap would be a big deal, but it gave some inspiration to drivers in the closing stages of the race. I am really surprised that teams gave the go-ahead for higher engine mappings given the 3 engine limit this year. Just for Grace I went and wrote down some good quotes from… Read more »

Jos van de Belt
Member
Jos van de Belt

Is it really .7 of a second? Verstappen was reeling Hamilton in quite fast. Not fast enough to pass him though, but the gap to Bottas would be much smaller without Hamilton in between. So, big thumbs up for the Red Bull/Honda combination. Ferrari WTF! There was a point on table up for grabs. Why not pit Leclerc or both Ferrari’s. The moment you don’t go for a gap, or points for that matter, you … How I wish Kubika/Williams would be a legend in the making. I’m afraid it is nothing more then a sad tale of a driver… Read more »

jtr
Member
jtr

One interesting thing in this race is that both Ricciardo and Kubica lost their entire front wings in their respective incidents. In past years, it seems like Kubica’s kind of incident would just result in damage rather than a complete loss of the wing. It’s worth keeping an eye out to see if that’s an unanticipated side effect of the new frong wing specs, that they’re now more prone to coming off completely. That will raise the stakes of front wing damage.