From a Mercedes data error, to two pit-stop mistakes and a highly impressive start from a Formula One great, there were plenty of talking points to take away from the Australian Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel came out on top against Lewis Hamilton, as Ferrari made the most of a Virtual Safety Car to jump the Mercedes driver, while Haas were left devastated after two unsafe releases cost them what could have potentially been a stunning opening weekend.
Fernando Alonso also benefitted from the virtual safety car, and then defended superbly, as he picked up a fifth-placed finish to kick off his Formula One season.
Here, Sport360’s Niall McCague and Tom Biggs take a look back at the opening weekend of the Formula One season.
The four-time world champion got the jump on the Mercedes ace off a miscalculation on the pit stop under Virtual Safety Car conditions and held off Hamilton for his second straight win in Melbourne and third overall.
“Nice one, nice one altogether,” Vettel said jubilantly over team radio.
“We’re getting there. We still have some work to do, but we’re getting there.”
It was Vettel’s 48th win in his 200th GP and follows his earlier wins in Melbourne in 2011 for Red Bull and last year for Ferrari.
Hamilton, starting off the pole, got out his car and looked a bit bewildered as he removed his helmet, wondering how exactly that race got away from him.
Vettel pitted for a new set of softs and emerged from the pits ahead of Hamilton, gaining around 10 seconds thanks to the deployment of the Virtual Safety Car (VSC).
“What just happened guys? Was that my mistake?” Hamilton said on team radio as a full-on safety car was sent out as the marshals struggled to remove the stranded Haas car of Romain Grosjean.
“We thought we were safe, but there’s obviously something wrong,” the team told Hamilton.
Mercedes potentially miscalculated the VSC minimum speed during the phase Vettel claimed the lead.
Vettel retained his lead as the race was restarted and built a lead of seven-tenths of a second over Hamilton mid-race.
Hamilton made an error as he locked up at turn nine and fell 2.8 seconds behind Vettel with 11 laps remaining.
Vettel proved too resilient and held on as Hamilton backed off over the final laps realising he could not catch the flying German.
“Well done guys, very proud of you. Long winter, long seasons in the past but now we can fight, we can fight,” Alonso said over the team radio.
Valtteri Bottas has been dealt a further blow following confirmation that he will be forced to serve a grid penalty following his qualifying crash.
Bottas lost control of his Mercedes on the exit of turn two at Melbourne’s Albert Park and suffered significant damage to his car after he smashed into the wall.
The 28-year-old Finn emerged unscathed from the 110mph shunt, but will drop five places on the grid after his Mercedes team revealed he will require a new gearbox.
It means Bottas is due to start a lowly 15th at Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
In contrast, Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton will line up from pole position after he stormed to the top of the order following his emphatic qualifying lap.
“It is a garage of contrasting emotions today with a really unfortunate end to qualifying for Valtteri,” Toto Wolff, the Mercedes executive director said.
“It was a big hit and the boys will have a long job list to get the car ready to race. It’s now about putting the incident behind him and recovering as strongly as possible.”
Bottas was taken to the medical centre for a precautionary check-up following the high-speed crash before he was swiftly given the all-clear.
The former Williams driver is out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the season, and his crash here is hardly the start he needed in his pursuit of a new deal.
“I went wide in turn one and the kerb was still a bit damp, so I lost the rear of the car and hit the wall outside of turn two,” Bottas explained.
“It’s very unfortunate and I feel sorry for the team because we have a really competitive car. It looked like it was damaged pretty badly, so I really hope we can fix it for the race.
“Overtaking is difficult on this track, but we’ll try everything we can. We have a good car, so I’ll try to fight back.”