Lewis Hamilton completely dominated the season opening Australian Grand Prix, as Mercedes completed yet another 1-2 continuing their dominance from last season. Sebastian Vettel completed the podium, although finishing a distant 33 seconds behind the two Mercedes, on his debut for Ferrari, providing hope for a Ferrari team, embarking on a fresh start.
Even before the start of the race, the already shortened grid(17 cars), reduced to a mere 15 cars, after Magnussen had an engine blow up while on the formation lap, along with Kyat encountering Gearbox problems.
As the race started, Hamilton led the pack with Rosberg getting a slow start, while staying ahead of Massa in second. After turn 1, Maldonado became the innocent victim, due to a collision between Felipe Nasr and himself, causing him to retire from the race after crashing into the tyre barrier.
This brought out the safety car and Lotus’ misery was further compounded as Romain Grosjean had to be brought back into the pits just after lap 1, after suffering a power issue on the formation lap.
On the ensuing release of the safety car, Hamilton quickly got away from the rest of the pack, ensuring a firm hold on the lead. During that period, Felipe Nasr, caught Sainz napping, and overtook him, almost instantly. Nasr showed impressive driving skills by holding Ricciardo and Raikkonen behind him for the first 15 laps of the race.
In his battle with Ricciardo, Raikkonen had to leave no stone unturned, if he wanted to pass him, but he faced problems all race long. A lengthy 8.7 second pit-stop on lap 17, caused him to fall way behind Ricciardo, ultimately leaving him at the back of the pack.
Williams ran their strategy to outrun Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari by calling in Massa for a pit-stop on lap 22 to change to medium compound tires. Massa came out of the pits right behind Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo and got held back helping Sebastian Vettel to get away from him.
Ferrari’s gamble to stay on track till lap 25, worked well when Sebastian Vettel jumped ahead of the Williams after making his first pit-stop.
On lap 26, the leader, Lewis Hamilton made a 3.3 seconds pit-stop, while Nico Rosberg stayed on track overtaking his teammate became the new leader of the race. Nico didn’t keep the lead for long as by the end of lap 26, he made a pit-stop of 2.9 second giving the lead back to his teammate.
Max Vertsappen’s, debut didn’t take a flying start. After running in the points, the young driver’s car faced mechanical problems on lap 35 and was forced to retire which was a major blow to the team and him for scoring some crucial points at the start of the season.
At the latter stages of the race, Nico Rosberg managed to close the gap between him and Hamilton to around 1.8 second, but fast laps by Hamilton ensured the safety of his first position till the end of the race.
The battle between Ricciardo and Raikkonen regained its rhythm in the middle stages but was soon cut short due to problem faced by Kimi Raikkonen at lap 41, just after the iceman’s second pit-stop. The rear tire of the Ferrari was not fitted properly and the furious waves of the pit crew were futile as he sped past the pits, causing damage to Raikkonen’s car and eventually forcing him to retire.
In the ending stages of the races, with only 2 laps remaining, Sauber’s Ericsson managed to overtake Toro Rosso’s Sainz and held on to the eighth position till the chequered flag.
With only two and a half days of testing period, Force India pulled of a great stint by finishing in the points. Nico Hulkenberg managed to score a few points by finishing 7th, and Perez who finished 10th after a roller coaster ride of 58 laps for the Mexican.
Things look grim in the McLaren garage, as Jenson Button finished last in the race and his teammate who couldn’t take part in the race.(Shubham & Aniket)