Race Report: Vettel takes 1st win in 2018 in Australia

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The stage was set. The teams discovered that Mercedes is still the team to beat and Ferrari, as well as Red Bull, were ready to try. Lewis Hamilton on pole, Kimi Raikkonen in second and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third. Once single wheel spin or dodgy start by and any one of the top three could be passed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen from 4th.

Sunny weather and warm temperatures we a welcome friend compared to the damp Free Practice session on Friday. There was little question that Lewis threw down a cracking lap for pole but just a little over seven tenths of a second separated the top four cars and Mercedes boss, Toto Wolff, said during testing that he felt the team may only have .500s on the competition. He may have been right.


A big win for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel who claimed victory over Lewis Hamilton. The question of whether anyone could challenge Lewis was answered but not in a manner Lewis would want. Vettel and Ferrari took advantage of the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) period to leap-frog Hamilton in the pits. Vettel ran a much longer first stint and luck was on his side with the timing of the VSC. He made no mistakes when he was out front and pressured by the Mercedes driver and it was certainly Vettel’s turn to wipe the smile off Lewis’s face. .

A win also for Kimi Raikkonen who out qualified his teammate and made the podium in third place. Ferrari’s strategy was spot on and is now causing a Twitter storm about the VSC rules with Sky Sports commentators weighing in suggesting it may be time to review those rules.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A win for Fernando Alonso and McLaren to leave the back of the grid and finish 5th. His teammate, Stoffel Vandoorne, was also in the points in 9th. McLaren struggled in testing and this weekend but did seem to get on top of their heating issues and managed to be best of the rest after Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. The team is moving in the right direction and it’s yet another testament to Alonso’s skills to hold off Verstappen’s Red Bull for 5th.

A win for Renault who managed both cars in the points and that’s something they weren’t doing last year with Jolyon Palmer at the wheel. The team is fighting for the best of the rest title over Force India and now it seems they have a lot of work to do to keep McLaren and Haas behind them. Also a win for Carlos Sainz who managed to finish the race despite dealing with serious nausea.


A fail for Haas F1 who managed to have wheel nut issues on both their cars forcing them both to retire from the race with Grosjean’s car prompting the VSC. The team were set to be the best of the rest. They had aggressive pace and looked terrific. Such a shame to lose a massive points haul but perhaps Australia was no fluke and Bahrain will also see them up front.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

A fail for Mercedes that saw Valtteri Bottas start in 15th after a crash in qualifying only to manage 8th during the race. For Lewis Hamilton, he had this race done and dusted and had the pace to manage a win but the team got caught out by the VSC period strategy of Ferrari’s and lost the win. Not Lewis’s fault and you could see how hard he was trying but just ran out of laps and tires. Prudent to wave the white flag and save the engine in the final laps.

A fail for Force India who secured 4th in the title last year but now seem to be markedly off the pace from Renault and McLaren. Also a fail for Williams who could manage no better than 14th and behind the Sauber of Charles Leclerc.


Not quite sure what happened to Sergey Sirtokin’s Williams or Marcus Ericsson’s Alfa Romeo Sauber as the US coverage was at commercial break during those periods.


What are we going to do about ESPN’s re-feed of Sky Sports F1’s coverage? No in-studio commentator to manage commercial breaks with a soft landing to recap what we missed during break. Had no idea what happened to Sirotkin or what Ricciardo said on the radio or any discussion from Sky’s team on race strategy or Gasly’s car issues.

If you’re going to do hard breaks, which we predicted, you need closed captioning on for your split screen so we can at least understand what’s happening. F1 fans take their racing too seriously to be left out in the cold during ad breaks. A transition and recap is a must or a way that split screen can still be inclusive of audio content. Sorry but F1 is too fast to always plan on a silly two-screen experience having to read Twitter feeds to figure out what’s going on during an ESPN broadcast.

Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

The commercial breaks seemed completely random with little or no care as to the on-track action and slightest predictive nature of producing the broadcast. We were at an ad break during the re-start. Very unfortunate.

The F1 world feed seems to be under new direction too as it focused on the wrong battles at the wrong time. Most notably focusing on Alonso and Verstappen when the real battle was Ricciardo and Raikkonen for the last podium position. There was on 1s between them.

F1 world feed graphics may have been easier on the eyes but seemed terribly dumbed down. I didn’t want to see which driver raced for which team, I wanted to see time gaps between positions. The graphics had a few issues that seemed like a junior league move such as listing the time gaps between “Last Name” and Last Name”. #TeamLastName will be happy with that.

Checkered Flag

I am glad the changed the camera angles on the HALO so we could see the hands and the track.

In the end, a good race and it did seem to show us a bit of a mixed up grid from last year in the mid-field which may be the best battles all season. Ok, back to reading the “outrage” of the Mobocracy over #VSCRules.

#AusGP result

1Sebastian VettelFerrari58
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes58
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrari58
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault58
5Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Renault58
6Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault58
7Nico HulkenbergRenault58
8Valtteri BottasMercedes58
9Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Renault58
10Carlos SainzRenault58
11Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes58
12Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes58
13Charles LeclercSauber/Ferrari58
14Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes58
15Brendon HartleyToro Rosso/Honda57
Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari24
Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari22
Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda13
Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari5
Sergey SirotkinWilliams/Mercedes4

Driver Championship

1Sebastian Vettel25
2Lewis Hamilton18
3Kimi Raikkonen15
4Daniel Ricciardo12
5Fernando Alonso10
6Max Verstappen8
7Nico Hulkenberg6
8Valtteri Bottas4
9Stoffel Vandoorne2
10Carlos Sainz1
11Sergio Perez0
12Esteban Ocon0
13Charles Leclerc0
14Lance Stroll0
15Brendon Hartley0

Constructor Championship

3Red Bull/Renault20
6Force India/Mercedes0
9Toro Rosso/Honda0
Overall race
race-report-vettel-takes-1st-win-in-2018-in-australiaA good race from my perspective given that it begins to answer some of those winter testing questions. Merc is still fastest but perhaps Red Bull can upset Ferrari from time to time and maybe the best racing could be for 4th in the constructor's title.
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Rick Gethin

I was entirely less than impressed with the way the “worldwide leader in sports” covered the race for U.S. fans. They actually made it hard to watch, which I wasn’t sure was possible. I don’t know if I can take a whole season of this shoddy production.


If ESPN kept one tradition from NBCSports it was the uncanny ability to cut to commercial during all of the important bits! The major difference being, as NC wrote, you would at least get a recap of what transpired on NBCSports.


I think espn’s coverage is part of a plot to drive us into using liberty media’s streamingapp.


I though it it was great opener for the season. Thrilled about Alonso’s result (I am biased being a McLaren fanboy haha), but in reality I think 5th is quite flattering for the car. It was good to see that after years of having to defend positions with Honda power he’s had plenty of practice fending off faster cars behind him and hold onto 5th. Hopefully this will silence the critics for McLaren switching to Renault.

Dr T


  • Ericcison had a power steering failure
  • Sergey’s brake pedal went long

Thoroughly enjoyed my first GP – was on the inside of Turns 1&2 in the Brabham stands

Had Max’s spin right in front of me.

What I fail to understand is why, when a wheelnut is loose, do the teams let the drivers carry on??? Lead to Romain’s VSC/SC which cost LH the race (and I’m not part of team LH)

NC – I have something Australian to post you from home if you have a snail mail address I can post to in the US


Am I the only one who thought they were planning standing starts after a safety car?

Turns out I didn’t read the rule properly and it says it is indeed only after a red flag not a safety car…

As for the vsc rules, Vettel got lucky but that’s life at then end of the day. Right place right time, I believe it was Spain last year where the situation was exactly reversed and mercedes gained a lot on Ferrari.


I think if they have to stop the race, like red flag…

sunny stivala

James. You are correct. And @ Matt. In simple terms a VSC freezes the race in its current state, while the actual safety car neutralizes it. A VSC is imposed in case there is a double yellow sector, but the situation is not so bad that actual safety car needs to come out. So the cars are given a target time for each marshaling sector (usually around 30 in a circuit). And cars need to stay above that time (slower) for each of that sector. In this way all cars must run at same speed and same lap time and… Read more »


Alonso and Seb were both benefactors to the VSC rules as written. Also, Ferrari drivers won and lost in the deal, Kimi was in a solid 2nd [finishing position] when the VSC occured. So there is nothing wrong with what occurred in the race. I would however propose that cars taking to pit lane should not see an advantage to the remainder of the field while under a VSC. [Seb obviously sped up while on pit lane, again well within the rules] I’ve said it before but if safety and nuetralizing the field is your primary concern you should have… Read more »

sunny stivala

Not surprised by the reaction of those that have to follow SKY pundits to form their learned opinion. The problem with pitting under VSC has been here since the start, but somehow was never mentioned until the Brit boy did not get screwed-up.


Actually, I form my own opinion regardless of what the broadcasters say. I’m far from a Lewis fanboy. I think the reason you see the issue today is not that it is Lewis/Kimi that was affected, but that it is the first time it happened to change the outcome of the race. I did read in another article that it was raised as a concern a year or two ago, but it didn’t get any traction.

sunny stivala

Sorry for being held back for 2 days on the subject. “but that it is the first time that it happened to change the outcome of the race” subcritical71. is this the first F1 race you started following the sports?. 2017 Chinese GP VSC period “44 takes advantage of lucky break to win, 44 and the other cars ahead of 5 were able to pit under the full-course caution and retain track position, the FERRARI 5 instead of being ahead ended-up down in sixth” 44 had this to say back than “this could be the most exciting season in my… Read more »


Yes it’s my first race, now move along.


sunny stivala

sounds like it really was you first one.


So back to the original point of my post. Forget about position changes. As I alluded to in my original post, everything was done legally in the race -> no need to change the outcome. I’ve done some more research and in fact the cars taking to pitlane are indeed allowed to speed up above the VSC (SC) speed in the pit entry and pit exit. IMO, and I’ll also play the safety card only to make my point clearer, if it is genuinely neutralization (and safety) that is desired it just seems odd to me that when you have… Read more »

Richard Bunce

Suppose the VSC time to pace each car shown on the steering wheel will be adjusted going forward so it continues to work in the pit lane… car will be held in pit stall by timer until any advantage is gone. Of course Lewis could have come in for fresh tires… Kimi too… which would have stacked up Seb. Same issues with aero performance. Looking forward to next several Indy Car races to see if less overall aero with relatively more underside (ground effects) aero and relatively less topside (wings) aero really improves racing. Streaming Sky 730 EDT rebroadcast… no… Read more »


About the pit lane… I don’t know the nuances of the pit lane during VSC, but from what was seen in AUS, would it not then be faster to take to pit road with no intention to stop during a VSC (or maybe even SC)?!?

Yeah, I’m watching the IndyCar series this year for exactly the point you mentioned. I’m cautiously optimistic but the next few races should tell the tale.

sunny stivala

Car 5 won the race ……the end……car 5 was lucky to end-up in first after VSC…… I can recall a couple of races last year where the safety car benefitted car 44. It happens…… that being said the best driver ever and (I still rise) to race in the best F1 car ever had 20 laps and a “party mood button” to pass an inferior driver in an inferior car that consumes a hell of a lot of fuel and oil…… that my friends is what you call “karma” who got the smile wiped of his/their face today. Car 44… Read more »


And a huge congratulations to Seb and Ferrari on the win! I hope others can beat Lewis this year to keep the title fight interesting even if it already appears the Merc are once again ahead on pace, but only the long haul will tell for sure.

My post on this subject of VSC going forward is in no way taking away from the results of the race or how it transpired.

Chuck C

“About the pit lane… I don’t know the nuances of the pit lane during VSC, but from what was seen in AUS, would it not then be faster to take to pit road with no intention to stop during a VSC (or maybe even SC)?!?” That would be against the Sporting Regs: 40.4 When initiated during a race, no car may enter the pits whilst the VSC procedure is in use unless it is for the purpose of changing tyres. Also note that most other possible passing scenarios are mentioned in the Sporting Regs as perfectly acceptable, so I doubt… Read more »


Great points you have there. The only thing I would challenge is why are tire changes acceptable if the intent is to neutralize then surely a car going around the track at VSC speed can continue even with worn tires. I could see that a tire change due to a failed tire would be appropriate.


Also, ESPN had serious technical difficulties for most of the pre-race show, leaving me wondering whether the race was even going to be broadcast…plus there was no post race interviews with the drivers. The stream video quality on my Apple TV looked much clearer than what was coming through over compressed on the cable box/DVR. The OTT better be a whole lot better. Frankly, I thought the race broadcast was a dis-service to serious F1 fans, especially considering how good the Practice and Qualifying sessions were presented.


I’m a Ferrari fan, and I’m elated by the double podium…. At the same time, I also feel like the victory seemed a bit hollow because the VSC timing was really responsible for the overtake on Hamilton. Luck may have been on Ferrari’s side this time, but given how fast the Merc was in qualifying, Ferrari’s gonna need a lot more than luck to win a championship. The Haas was looking so good all weekend, and it would have been a huge points haul for them as “best of the rest”. Sadly, it all went pear shaped at the pit… Read more »


Mercedes does seem to have the advantage so far, but its only one race in anger so far. I hope Red Bull, Ferrari or even McLaren can put a few spoilers on this year though.

I fear Haas needs to make quick progress because as history has shown they are not very good developing the car as the season goes. Lets hope they prove me wrong, but that has been the trend.


The coverage is just the F1 feed. No personality. F1 on the Cheap. Maybe Comcast will buy Sky and bring back to NBC. Not that it was great, but at least it was our own in studio and pit lane.


That’s like wanting a monopoly to become an overlord.

Tim C.

The only thing to say about ESPNs coverage is that it “was coverage” albeit poor coverage in my opinion. As I’ve said previously, if Liberty Media is trying to make headway in the US market, this isn’t the way to go about it. At least I had it on the DVR and could breeze through some of the commercials. If only I could find a way to record the complete live feed of Sky Sports . . . Hum?!?!?!

The Captain

Well that was a new relationship milestone today. The first time my GF had to see me jump up and throw everything off the couch arms flailing while screaming at the TV when HAAS lost the second car due to pitstop. I was gutted for the drivers. Great on Alonso though and at least for now it looks like it could be three way season with a tight midfield. (I hope!) But ESPN! Yea Todd you are right about the commercial and it’s what I was afraid of when I first heard about this deal. I’ll admit it was not… Read more »

Matt Guss

I felt like the VSC won the race. I (mistakenly) thought that the VSC effectively froze the order of the cars as would a real safety car. Its an unfortunate & unfair loophole when Ferrari was able to leapfrog Hamilton during a VSC. The dead air at the “Pre-Race” show was BIZARRE and totally bush league. That violated the all the rules of broadcasting. And that grid walk interview sequence was incredibly embarrassing & awkward. Will Buxton has been replaced by his grandpa. And those grid kids…Jesus! that was just awful. (and everything you said Todd about the horrible ad… Read more »


I think the “Fail” for Haas has to be changed to a “WTF”


The Channel 4 coverage in the UK mentioned that Haas had a lot of personnel changes in the pit crew. The issues could be human error, but I do wo der if they have some design flaw that allowed the wheelnut to become cross threaded twice in quick succession. The race team will be travelling to Bahrain, to set up for the next race, so there isn’t much time to sort out this issue. The next rules change must address the inability of these cars to actually race. Not counting Alonso and Verstappen under the safety car, just how many… Read more »

sunny stivala

HAAS said it was down to lack of pit stop training, also it is said that they were fined Euro 10k.


I was so glad I didn’t get up early for this procession they call a race. Only little light points were Ferrari for once being better at strategy then Mercedes (I hope they keep that up, would be a nice change from last years when they always messed it up strategically) but that was a little dimmed by Kimi again not getting what he deserved, being ahead of Vettel on the podium. Ah well, lets hope it will be a quiet last year for the old ice man :-) Also it’s beginning to look like Max is a lot like… Read more »

Tom Firth

Just a note on the feed graphics. I like the new graphics set, but agree some of the information given is somewhat dumbed down. Admittedly I watched with Sky Race Control loaded on the Ipad so I didn’t really mind this but more information does need to be on the broadcast.

Also are some small things like the font size etc that need adjusting. I’m sure FOM will do this quite quickly following feedback as every previous iteration of the world feed ‘graphics’ have seen evolution during the use of them. I’m not too worried therefore about that.