Race Report: Hamilton dominates down under

The Australian Grand Prix was wrought with controversy and challenges from the day the first equipment containers landed in Melbourne. Sauber embroiled in what turned out to be a courtroom drama on par with an Ironside episode, McLaren struggled their way to the back of the grid and Manor GP pretended to participate in the race weekend. Fact is, it was a bit of an odd start to the 2015 Formula 1 season.

If you were under the impression that Mercedes was clearly dominant, you were right but perhaps not quite as dominant as qualifying pace suggested as Lewis finished 34 seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel over 58 laps.

Win

Win

Regardless of the off-track controversy, a race was run and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won it in brilliant fashion. Lewis started the 2015 season right where he left off in 2014 as the world champion. He came into the weekend with top-shelf confidence and bravado that is usually a good sign that the 2-time champ’s head is in the game.

Hamilton’s teammate was there or thereabouts for the entire race and while Lewis claimed pole and never looked back, Rosberg was playing catch up when the red lights went out. Hamilton obliterated the field but not his teammate who was just behind him and that does signal another dynamic duel for the remainder fo the season.

Ferrari’s testing pace was for real. Sebastian Vettel completed the podium with a 3rd place finish which was a breath of fresh air for both driver and team who both needed a much better debut to 2015 under new management and with a new driver. As happy as that was, teammate Kimi Raikkonen was on a tear when the team struggled to secure the left-rear tire and releasing the car too soon forcing him to stop on track for a DNF.

The feel-good stories from the weekend have to be out of the Sauber camp who, at one point, were not even sure if they would race this weekend. Rookie Felipe Nasr finished a terrific 5th while teammate Marcus Ericsson scored a 8th place giving both cars a points finish. That’s a huge success given they scored no points in 2014. Nasr’s finish was the best debut performance form a Brazilian driver ever.

Attrition had a major role to play with half of the field was out of the race, it still prvided some interesting battles on track and other great stories. Toro Rosso scored points with a 9th place finish for rookie Carlos Sainz and looked to be a double-points finish before teammate and youngest-ever driver Max Verstappen stopped with car trouble and a DNF.

Nico Hulkenberg gave Force India a 7th place finish a big points haul for a team that had only tested their 2015 car for two days. Teammate Sergio Perez completed the top 10 and Force India heads into 2015 with points on the board. It’s a good story but they were lapped by Mercedes and that means they have a lot of work to do.

Fail

Fail

McLaren has been taking a load of criticism over their dismal performance this weekend and while Kevin Magnussen retired the car on the installation lap, his teammate Jenson Button completed the race but narrowly missed the points.

Red Bull has a lot to consider given the 6th place finish for local hero Daniel Riccardo was the best they could muster and teammate Daniil Kvyat retired on the installation lap. While 6th sounds decent, Ricciardo was lapped by the Mercedes duo and that’s not good.

Renault may have more token in hand than the other teams and saving them for 2016 development may be their plan but unfortunately the more tokens one has in hand seems to suggest less pace they have on track.

Williams were the sensation of 2014 with their new Mercedes engine and re-discovered pace and passion in F1 but this year Ferrari seems to have caught up with them and while Ferrari’s gains are rumored to be in the neighborhood of 80bhp, Williams will need to find the chassis development to make full use of the Mercedes shove in the back.

WTH

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado has to be asking himself WTH? Punted off track at turn one in a clash that looked like a pinball machine, the Venezuelan had a crash and this time it wasn’t his fault.

The other WTH moment was the unfortunate non-start for Williams driver Valtteri Bottas for back issues. As the camera panned the Williams garage, Bottas was sat at the back of the garage in shades and looking positively miserable. Unfortunately the rules didn’t allow reserve driver, Susie Wolff, to take the wheel and go for points which the team really needs.

PosDriverCarGap
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1h31m54.067s
2Nico RosbergMercedes-7.640
3Sebastian VettelFerrari25.523s
4Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes29.196s
5Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1m26.149s
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault1 Lap
7Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
8Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
9Carlos Sainz Jr.Toro Rosso/Renault1 Lap
10Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1 Lap
11Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda2 Laps
Kimi RaikkonenFerrariRetirement
Max VerstappenToro Rosso/RenaultRetirement
Kevin MagnussenMcLaren/HondaNot started
Valtteri BottasWilliams/MercedesWithdrawn
Daniil KvyatRed Bull/RenaultNot started
Romain GrosjeanLotus/MercedesRetirement
Pastor MaldonadoLotus/MercedesCollision
Will StevensMarussia/FerrariWithdrawn
Roberto MerhiMarussia/FerrariWithdrawn

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP:

PosDriverPoints
1Lewis Hamilton25
2Nico Rosberg18
3Sebastian Vettel15
4Felipe Massa12
5Felipe Nasr10
6Daniel Ricciardo8
7Nico Hulkenberg6
8Marcus Ericsson4
9Carlos Sainz Jr.2
10Sergio Perez1
11Jenson Button0

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP:

PosConstructorPoints
1Mercedes43
2Ferrari15
3Sauber/Ferrari14
4Williams/Mercedes12
5Red Bull/Renault8
6Force India/Mercedes7
7Toro Rosso/Renault2
8McLaren/Honda0
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yoshif8tures

When did you switch to disqus? It says above 12 comments.. Where are they?

Negative Camber

I just recently switched and tried Livefyre but they had little or no pre-made WordPress integration for recent comments or widgets so I then changed to Disqus. Imported all comments (which took an age) and there were errors but Disqus says things look fine. Very odd. Sorry about that.