On Saturday, we saw Lewis Hamilton taking Pole Position for the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel.
Before the start of the race, Daniil Kvyat was stranded in the middle of the home straight and this left the FIA no choice but to have an aborted start and do another formation lap as Kvyat tries to get his car back to start the race in the pitlane.
The Australian GP is underway! Sebastian Vettel had a blistering start off the line and as we headed into the first corner, he was ahead of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Felipe Massa is then able to pass Hamilton into Turn 2 for track position. Pascal Wehrlein has also had a great start and moved up a couple of places as Kevin Magnussen over team radio announces that he has a puncture.
Also, Fernando Alonso was up to tenth place after the first lap and also Nico Hulkenberg was able to pass Daniel Ricciardo for eighth place. But Vettel lead the race on Lap 2 by 1.5 seconds ahead of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen as Daniil Kvyat officially retires from the race.
Lap 3 saw two battles; the first was a battle for fifteenth place between Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Nasr and Valtteri Bottas and the second battle was for fifth place between Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz Jr. The next lap saw Hamilton getting a good tow from Massa’s Williams but managed to get past at Turn 3 and is now fifth place.
There is a battle for second place between Raikkonen and Rosberg is building up; with Rosberg closing the gap to 0.5 seconds as Hamilton is closing the gap to Verstappen for fourth place. On Lap 10, Daniel Ricciardo is able to pass Massa for sixth place with a good move into Turn 1. Two laps later sees Valtteri Bottas passing Renault rookie Jolyon Palmer for eleventh place with a great move into Turn 4 after Palmer defended well before conceding.
With Vettel making his pitstop at the end of Lap 12, Kimi Raikkonen now leads the Australian GP ahead of Hamilton by 11.7 seconds. After the pitstops, we saw Vettel battling with Rosberg for third place; with Rosberg catching him all the time. Lap 15 saw Ricciardo passing Button for seventh place and Verstappen passing him for eighth place. At this stage of the race, the Toro Rosso drivers are flying; especially Carlos Sainz Jr who on Lap 15 passed Jenson Button with a great move to ninth place.
Lap 16 saw Vettel passing Hamilton with a great move into Turns 1 and 2 to move up to second place as Hamilton struggles with his tyres. At the end of Lap 16, both Raikkonen and Hamilton pit, therefore handing the race lead to his team mate Vettel. Lap 17 saw Esteban Gutierrez into the gravel after an collusion with Fernando Alonso who saw his McLaren-Honda hit the barrier and is completely turned upside down.
The accident happened as Alonso moved to pass Gutierrez on the outside at Turn 3. He appeared to be caught out by the braking point of the Haas, which was on 17-lap old tyres compared to Alonso’s new rubber, and clouted Gutierrez right front tyre to left rear tyre. Alonso flipped into the air as he made contact with the gravel and flew at speed into the barriers.
The McLaren ended up resting upside down against the barrier, but Alonso was able to get out without assistance and walk away from the wreckage. This then brought out the Safety Car and the teams pitting under it. The red flag was the brought out by the FIA in order to deal with the debris that was on the track as the stewards announced that an investigation would be happening after the race.
The red flag saw a 20-minute stoppage to the race before racing resumed with a rolling restart on Lap 19 with Vettel leading the pack once again. But on Lap 23 as Raikkonen reports on team radio that something wasn’t right with his Ferrari, a fire breaks out in his airbox and is forced to officially retire from the race.
The next lap sees Bottas challenging Hulkenberg for ninth place as Verstappen, Sainz and Hamilton battle for fourth place on the track. By Lap 26, Vettel still leads the race ahead of Rosberg by 3.9 seconds. We also see Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas battling for eighth place.
The stewards then announce that Marcus Ericsson will receive a drive through penalty after the Sauber team was found working on the car at the 15 second signal. Five laps later sees the battle for eighth between Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Bottas still ongoing on the track; with Grosjean defending very well indeed.
With the battle at the front with Rosberg catching Vettel starting to generate some attention, Sainz Jr struggled with the performance of his tyres and appears to be dropping back slightly from the race even though he was battling with Sergio Perez for tenth place and is able to get past.
The race for the lead between Vettel and Rosberg is building up on the track; with Rosberg slowly starting to catch the Ferrari in front of him. But with Vettel pitting at the end of Lap 35, he now hands the lead over to Rosberg who had to push if he wanted to stay ahead after his pitstop even of a wheelnut on Vettel’s left front tyre wouldn’t play ball.
But Rosberg now leads the race from his team mate. There was a battle for ninth between Palmer, Sainz and Verstappen with Palmer doing a super job keeping the Toro Rosso drivers at bay. By Lap 42, Hamilton was catching Ricciardo for second place on the track as Marcus Ericsson officially retires from the race. As into Turn 1, Sainz is able to pass Palmer for position with a good move and is quickly followed by his team mate.
Two laps later sees Grosjean and Hulkenberg battling for sixth place on the circuit as Nico Rosberg still leads the race. Lap 46 sees Ricciardo slowly catching Massa for fourth place and is able to do so turning into Turn 1. Rosberg still leads Hamilton by 10.4 seconds even though Vettel is starting to catch the British driver.
With Verstappen clearly annoyed at being behind his team team Sainz and clearly airing his emotion publically via team radio, both the Toro Rosso drivers still find themselves trying to pass the Williams of Bottas on Lap 48 of the race. By Lap 52, Vettel had brought the gap down to 0.5 seconds to Hamilton and is gathering momentum.
As many were watching the battle between Hamilton and Vettel, Verstappen span his Toro Rosso in the second to last corner on Lap 53 after Sainz locked up and Verstappen trying to pass his team mate and makes contact with him as a result, which made him lose a place to Palmer.
Rosberg leads Hamilton on the final lap of the race by 7.3 seconds and wins the Australian Grand Prix which is his fourth consecutive win in F1, his first of the new season and his fifteenth win of his career.
Hamilton is a credible second 8 seconds behind Rosberg, Vettel finished in a brilliant third place 9.6 seconds seconds sbehind Rosberg, Ricciardo was a credible fourth 24.3 seconds behind Rosberg and Massa finished fifth 58.9 seconds behind Rosberg.
Grosjean was a credible sixth on his debut for Haas 72 seconds behind Rosberg, Hulkenberg finishes seventh 74.1 seconds behind Rosberg, Bottas finished in eighth place 75.1seconds behind Rosberg , Sainz Jr finished in ninth place 75.6 seconds behind Rosberg and Verstappen picked up the final point in tenth 76.8 seconds behind Rosberg.
Nico Rosberg leads the Drivers’ Championship with 25 points, Hamilton is second with 18 points, Vettel is third with 15 points, Ricciardo is fourth with 12 points, Massa is fifth with 10 points, Grosjean is sixth with 8 points, Hulkenberg is seventh with 6 points, Bottas is eighth with 4 points, Sainz is ninth with 2 points and Verstappen is tenth with 1 point.
Mercedes lead the Constructors Championship with 43 points, Ferrari is second with 15 points, Williams are third with 14 points, Red Bull are fourth with 12 points, Haas are fifth with 8 points, Force India are sixth with 6 points, Toro Rosso are seventh with 2 points and Renault are eighth with 0 points.
I feel that McLaren have had an okay weekend. With both drivers struggling all weekend long, it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car that they need in order to get back to competitive ways once again as quickly as possible for the rest 2016 season. And this has been brought to light this weekend despite Honda saying that the car as improved but this hasn’t translated on the track.
The biggest surprise this weekend for me was Grosjean getting sixth place in the race. I do feel that Romain drove a superb race to gain sixth today despite a defensive race and it is very well deserved. And for him to secure Haas this result on their first GP and being the first team to do so since Toyota on their debut in the sport in 2002 shows that he did a brilliant job and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.
Verstappen did a brilliant job to get tenth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Sainz Jr for most of the race. These points for himself and Toro Rosso are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.
Sainz Jr battled his way through today to get ninth place today. He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Sainz Jr may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Toro Rosso this weekend despite what happened with his team mate in the race, but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.
Bottas had a bit of a lonely yet defensive race to finish eighth. But he managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team and even though he couldn’t beat his team mate, he still managed to get a result from the weekend and will help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Hulkenberg did a great job to get seventh place today after battling with Grosjean today. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to kick the curse he has at this event, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.
Massa did a great job to finish in sixth after battling with Ricciardo for most of the race. Even though it is not the finish that he wanted to start the season with, this will only spur him on to achieve better for next few races.
Ricciardo did a great job to get fourth place today and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.
Vettel did a credible job to finish third today especially after doing his best to challenge the Mercedes drivers. Vettel this weekend has managed to struggle to extract pace and performance from the car this weekend; and I feel that the results that Sebastians achieved today will only spur him on to get better this season as the pace is there.
Hamilton deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to second place. He may not have won the battle with his team mate; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Sepang.
All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Melbourne and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are just the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Rosberg for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his fourth consecutive race and his first race of the season.
With Sepang not far away, many will wondering if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is back and aren’t we all the better for it!
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