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.
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.
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.
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
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||58||22.520s|
|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|
|–||Carlos Sainz||McLaren/Renault||9||Power Unit|