Vettel overcuts Hamilton for Australian GP win

The Australian Grand Prix had very little to play for between Mercedes 3-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel. In fact, there was just slightly over two tenths between their qualifying laps and both drivers started on the front row. With a new starting procedure in which teams are helpless to assist drivers in finding the clutch bite points, it was a concern for all drivers heading into the start of the race on Sunday.

It was also a less than savory start for Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who materialized his own 5-place grid penalty after suffering an unforced error crash during qualifying demanding a gearbox change. This put Daniel’s start position in the danger zone mid-pack where there is often a lot of front wing carnage at the start. That may not have ever been an issue as Ricciardo’s car stopped during the installation laps before the race even started but he was able to join the race on lap 3.

Things got worse for the Red Bull stable as the Toro rosso of Daniil Kvyat had a fire extinguisher go off while on the grid and then Ricciardo was completely out of the race on lap 29.

The first race of the season has traditionally been a lowest finishing rate for the teams due to accidents and reliability issues so scoring points for some smaller teams was always a hope. The Pirelli compounds seemed to be more durable this season and while most reckoned a one-stopper, there was some thoughts that perhaps an early stop for a slightly harder compound than the Ultra-soft tire might see the rest of the race as done.

Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel came to race in 2017 and while their car looked like the better car, they did get an assist from an early stop by Hamilton which put him behind Verstappen giving Vettel the lead on the overcut. It still leaves the door open for the question of if Ferrari are actually faster than Mercedes.

Hamilton had the better start but an early stop undercut cost him the strategy of the race and Ferrari capitalized for the win.

Win

A big win for Ferrari who seem to have found serious pace over the winter. Not only have they possibly caught Mercedes but in the hands of Sebastian Vettel, it looked clearly as if it was simply the better car in Australia. It’s their first win in 10 years at Albert Park.

A win for Formula 1 as the regulation changes have brought an actual inter-team battle instead of just an intra-team battle. Fans often get numb to a single-team domination in F1 such as Ferrari and Red Bull and now Mercedes. Ferrari’s return in Melbourne give hope to those fans that were ready for some battles between teams instead of just between Mercedes teammates.

It’s not a complete loss for Mercedes who finished second and third and a big win for Valtteri Bottas who finished right where Mercedes needed their new driver to finish…in the points and on the tail of Lewis Hamilton. A good points haul and if this Albert Park circuit just flattered the Ferrari, then Merc has it all to play for on purpose-built circuits.

To Lewis’s credit, he did say during testing that he was slightly worried about how his tires would handle hotter temperatures and it seemed he struggled with that on Sunday.

A win for reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi who took his Sauber to 12th sitting in for Pascal Werhlein. Also a win for rookie Esteban Ocon who finished in the points for his first race for Force India and putting a great pass on Alonso.

A win for Max Verstappen who managed to keep going in his Renault-powered car and finished 5th and a big win for both Toro Rosso drivers who brought both cars home in the points for 8th and 9th for Sainz and Kvyat respectively.

Fail

A fail for Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo fo first, crashing on Saturday causing a gearbox change and the knock-on effect of a sensor issue and ultimately engine failure.

A fail for Mercedes, perhaps, for knowing the overcut was the way forward yet calling Lewis in for an attempted undercut on Sebastian. Lewis complained quite a bit about his tires and the team made the call.

A fail for Kimi Raikkonen who’s teammate won the race while he finished a distant fourth nearly 23s behind. In Kimi’s defense, he had struggled with the Ultra-soft tires and when they changed to softs, he did a lot better.

Haas F1, who had a great qualifying, managed to lose an engine for Romain Grosjean and then a suspension failure for Kevin Magnussen leaving both cars out of the race.

A fail for the fans who spilled onto the track before all the cars were secured in pit lane which can be very dangerous. I’m all for excitement and flooding the circuit but at least wait until the cars are back in parc ferme.

A fail for McLaren but then we were braced for that heading into the weekend. Alonso retired and Vandoorne in 13th behind a Sauber with Italian rookie, Antonio Giovinazzi.

WTH?

Palmer’s weekend was a WTH. Out with a brake issue in the race and out with the trash talk on Saturday about his new car.

Sure, it’s just one track and a road track at that but where is the five seconds per lap quicker?

There was certainly a time when the strategy of undercut for Mercedes and delaying Vettel’s stop while Hamilton was stuck behind Max Verstappen. While Ferrari’s call worked out int eh end, Mercedes did not.

Where was the prolific passing? First race, for sure, but the aero increase didn’t really seem to even lend itself to DRS passes…I’m not complaining, mind you, because I’m no DRS fan but it will be interesting to see if they can pass much at all this season.

Results:

POSDRIVERCARGAPLAPS
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1h24m11.672s57
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes9.975s57
3Valtteri BottasMercedes11.250s57
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari22.393s57
5Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault28.827s57
6Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1m23.386s57
7Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1 Lap56
8Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap56
9Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Renault1 Lap56
10Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes1 Lap56
11Nico HulkenbergRenault1 Lap56
12Antonio GiovinazziSauber/Ferrari2 Laps55
13Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Honda2 Laps55
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/HondaRetirement50
Kevin MagnussenHaas/FerrariRetirement46
Lance StrollWilliams/MercedesBrakes40
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/RenaultRetirement25
Marcus EricssonSauber/FerrariRetirement21
Jolyon PalmerRenaultRetirement15
Romain GrosjeanHaas/FerrariEngine13
Pascal WehrleinSauber/FerrariWithdrawn0
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
vettel-overcuts-hamilton-for-australian-gp-winA good race (as a Ferrari fan of course) but more importantly, it's a good race for F1 to bring back inter-team battles. The lack of 5s faster laps and prolific passing is yet to be seen but Ferrari vs Mercedes may be a season saver for fans.
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jcn115

I was watching the Sky feed and Martin Brundle said that he was told that Mercedes told Bottas to hold station and stay 3rd. If that is true, I think another thumbs down would be Mercedes team orders to keep Bottas behind Lewis.

Negative Camber

Agreed…if they told him to hold pace and station, that’s very unfortunate.

Salvu Borg

On tyres 8 laps newer than those of number 44 Bottas quickly closed on his team mate, it was than that made the call, Mercedes pit-wall did not told Bottas to hold station, Mercedes pit-wall told Bottas/informed Bottas that they have just instructed his team mate to “turn-down” his engine. and no playing with the PIZU HERE, THAT IS CLEAR “CALL OF YOUR ATTACK”.

Samouri

It would make no sense for Mercedes to carry on any discussion so sensitive with Brundle on that order. If true, would have already caused major meltdowns and crashes on F1 websites world-wide. I asked a website which have many Sky viewers, and not one would confirm your doubtful allegation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0BeIsf3-9E

jcn115

doubtful allegation? I guess your sources were not paying attention, because I think it was one of the producers that told Brundle that there was an offline radio to Bottas telling him to hold station. Even during the Sky after race show, Brundle asked Lauda if the pit wall told Bottas to hold station, in which Lauda of course said no.

jcn115

Since you like videos so much, here is the proof of Brundle asking Niki about telling Bottas to hold station
https://youtu.be/HQlWKr1fPCU?t=1h10m10s

jakobusvdl

Good morning Todd, hope you’re not too shattered. These few daytime races in my timezone are such a delight, seeing the race live without pulling an all nighter, or recording and spending the day avoiding news and internet is so enjoyable. That was an interesting race, but, apart from the ‘overcut’, the double over take of Alonso, and wondering how the new format will race, not very exciting. I’m delighted to see Vettel take the win, and very sad that Riciardo’s race day turned out so poorly. It’s a worry that Raikonnen couldn’t run the two Mercedes closer, and he… Read more »

Salvu Borg

I am still unable too but still trying to discover what was the problem with Kimi’s car, there for sure must have been a problem with his car. anybody that believes it was just down to the driver is a total fool.

jakobusvdl

You’ll think me at least a partial fool then, but I feel that Raikonnen is an inconsistent talent, often brilliant, other times (like today) he just goes missing. Maybe we’ll find out that it’s a car issue, but it’s not uncommon that he just has a mediocre race. Ferrari need both drivers in the top three, consistently, if they are going to take the WCC off Mercedes.

Salvu Borg

well, it will not be the first time that I will be proven wrong re my opinion/’s, although not often. one thing that I am convinced of is that if the team confirms to the new FERRARI boss that there was nothing wrong with the car this time/this season driver contracts or that of anybody’s contract in the team for that matter will mean zlig to him. as you said, FERRARI needs both drivers in the top three. JAKO, I see no way that number 7 FERRARI driver would be left behind by Bottas in such a way he was,… Read more »

MIE

Raikkonen was complaining about understeer on the ultra soft tyres he started the race on. After moving to the soft tyres at the pit stop the balance was restored.

Salvu Borg

what I got so far about Kimi’s problem is he saying that the car on ultra softs (first stint) was sliding about a lot and that the team have a fix for that, but could not implement it because of the car being under park frame. but I got nothing from the team as yet.

jakobusvdl

Dave and Salvu, from what I can recall, Raikonnen’s relative position didn’t improve after his pitstop, he continued to lose time to Bottas, and couldn’t respond to hold off Verstappen in a RBR that was a second slower in qualifying.
Maybe these new cars are really sensitive to set up and tyres, or Kimi was ice cream deprived.

MIE

Bottas was pulling away from Raikkonen in the second stint until he caught Hamilton, then the Ferrari was able to maintain that pace or gain slightly.

Salvu Borg

Yes Bottas was pulling away from Kimi in the second stint until he caught number 44, that was when his pit wall informed him that his team mate (number 44) had been instructed to turn down his engine, which meant “call off your attack”. which in turn he promptly did as a good boy will.

Zachary Noepe

Agreed the first race is always interesting for lots of reasons, dnfs usually one, but I wouldn’t let the excitement of the dawning season carry me away to 4 1/2 stars, nor give a win to F1 for the regs. I think it’s a stretch Todd to say Ferrari’s resurgence is down to the crafting of the new regs, mightn’t they have just had a productive season of development? Regarding the regs I don’t think there was one single pass of a car which was not in the act of dying, which bodes very poorly for the rest of the… Read more »

Zachary Noepe

Slight disagreement about McLaren, though I do see there was a little bit of power at times, still the smorgasbord of weaknesses this weekend – Alonso underpowered (but not terrible) when he’s running, then his car breaks. VanDoorne with no electronics and can’t idle the car in the pits. Is the steering wheel Honda’s fault too? It’s just that they’re covering all the bases – lack of power, lack of reliability from the motor, from the electronics, and apparently from the structure of the car. I mean that’s a lot to fix. I feel like they’re benefitting from the mother… Read more »

Salvu Borg

That is the exact situation, couldn’t have said it any better myself.

jakobusvdl

I know Zachery, I’m just scratching for any reasons for optimism when it comes to McLaren.

Negative Camber

Possibly but I think there was a lot that could go wrong with these regulations and we haven’t seen their full impact yet. This race was a 4.5 for me because it is the first time in three years that a team have been able to run with Mercedes. That’s big for F1. They needed that. I’m still not 100% convinced Ferrari is a better car, it’s early days and possibly track specific here in Oz. Ferrari usually do well here. Lewis lost on strategy so let’s give it a couple of races and then I’ll have a better feel… Read more »

jakobusvdl

4.5 FBC stars it is then :-)
You’re a Ferrari fan so this has been a 5 star race for you, minus 0.5 star for Kimi’s 4th.

Salvu Borg

about Negative Camber rating the race at 4.5, I don’t even rate the race that high.
But, if you are not 100% convinced that the FERRARI is the better car (so far), which is the car that you are convinced is the better?

jakobusvdl

As regards Ricciardo’s self inflicted off, there was one nugget of information from the Skysport pre-race show. Pat Symonds explaining why he thinks the cars are unrecoverable once their angle of oversteer exceeds a small angle. Todd will be happy to hear, its the sharkfin! As a car starts to slide, the direction of the car starts to deviate from the direction of the airflow. Initially that adds air pressure on the side of the sharkfin which is into the air, helping to straighten the car. But, if the angle of travel of the car to the air flow becomes… Read more »

Salvu Borg

shark fins and T-wings will stay the season unless safety reasons are claimed by the FIA. THAT ONE TEAM PUSHING AGAINST THEM has already screwed-up overtaking by pushing for the present level of downforce because they believed it would give the an advantage.

jakobusvdl

I think that if they’re shown to be leading to uncontrollable spins, the FIA won’t be slow to act

Salvu Borg

all drivers can have an (uncontrollable spin) but the facts are not all does even when going faster than those that do.

jakobusvdl

It’s the amount of yaw that leads to the sudden loss of downforce, and consequent loss of control.
A slide at higher speed probably means the car is under more downforce, more grip and a better chance to recover, or if the angle gets too wide, a much bigger accident!

Zachary Noepe

Super interesting thanks. They should make it turn with the steering wheel like a Tucker middle headlight! (there’s a reminiscence for all the V12 fans out there :))

jakobusvdl

Aerosteering! I love it. We just have to write that no movable aero surfaces out of the regs, and set sail!

And the anology is to the swiveling headlights of a 1970’s Citroën DS for the eurocentric V12 fans :-)

Salvu Borg

Vettel’s number 5 FERRARI won the race because it was the best car and the quickest on the grid over the race distance. The undercut came about because the number 5 FERRARI was able to follow the car in front without losing downforce and so was able to make its tyres last longer. if number 5 FERRARI wasn’t following the car in front, it would have pitted much more later. Number 44 Mercedes was pitted 6 or 7 laps before the number 5 FERRARI because that was how long it’s tyres lasted. if it wasn’t the case, they at Mercedes… Read more »

jakobusvdl

Hi Salvu, a happy day for you, you’ve been telling us that the 2017 is the best car since the first week of testing. A great drive from Vettel, and a convincing Ferrari win.

Salvu Borg

JAKO, GINA got the biggest boobs of them all. as I said elsewhere, my interest now is to discover what the problem was with number 7 FERRARI, there is no why that it was only down to the driver, the car is that good.
Also be assured that if number 5 FERRARI had managed to get in front at the start “the how good the car is factor” would have been much more properly displayed.

Zachary Noepe

And don’t forget – a little pressure on Hamilton and he starts to crack. (is my floor broken? this is a bad set of tires!)

Tom Firth

Really rather enjoyed the race first thing this morning. A lot of complaining as ever about one thing or another from Twitter, but I found it to have enough to hold my interest. On track overtaking was at a premium but that was entirely expected.

The strategy aspects of the race were interesting and I’ve got a lot of hope for the season ahead. We’ll see how well the Ferrari Vs Mercedes battle lasts as Melbourne can be an anomaly but yeah, positive.

Darth Rust

Is there anything other than the “newness” of the cars and season that makes Melbourne an anomaly? I assign a lot of uncertainty this early in the season as just about everyone is still learning about their cars, and in some cases their team. But is there some combination of, say, air temperature and track surface that make it different? The temporary nature of the track? Something less obvious?

Negative Camber

The track itself is a bit unique in its layout and being a road course on public streets.