Sebastian Vettel out-manoeuvred Lewis Hamilton and the world champion Mercedes team with a stunning victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday.
Vettel won by almost 10 seconds from Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a commanding victory of tactics and superior speed around the Albert Park street circuit.
Ferrari hadn’t won in Melbourne since Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 victory and it was Vettel’s second triumph in Australia after winning the 2011 race with Red Bull.
DRIVER OF THE DAY
Sebastian Vettel was absolutely flawless in the season opener, establishing Ferrari’s ambitions from the onset. The four-time former world champion finished 9.9 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Hamilton’s early stop meant he rejoined behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen which allowed Vettel to open up a decisive gap at the head of the field and one he wasn’t about to relinquish.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen missed out on a podium finish as he came in fourth but registered the fastest lap of the day. The Fin clocked his best time in lap 56.
Valtteri Bottas’ 1:26.593 proved the second-fastest, also on lap 56, with Vettel’s 1:26.638 third during lap 53.
While the front-runners all achieved their quickest speeds towards the end of the race the fact Hamilton’s fastest of 1:27.033 occurred on lap 44 – the second earliest of the top 13 drivers – emphasises how difficult he found it closing the gap on Vettel.
Daniel Ricciardo endured a hellish Australian Grand Prix with a weekend-long spell of wretched luck.
It just went from bad to worse for the amiable Red Bull driver who crashed in qualifying, copped a grid penalty, started the race from pit lane, before his car stopped on lap 29 of his 58-lap home GP.
“Sorry mate. Car is done. Let’s get out of here,” the shattered Ricciardo told his Red Bull Racing colleagues over the team radio.
That’s six Australian GPs now for Ricciardo; two retirements, a disqualification, a ninth, a sixth and a fourth place.
ONE TO WATCH
On his debut with Force India, Esteban Ocon impressed with a tenth place finish, registering his first points in Formula One. He showed great fight when he battled Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg in lap 52 to get into the top ten.