Ferrari are back! Vettel victorious in Australia

Sebastian Vettel defeated Lewis Hamilton in the opening race of the new Formula 1 era with a superb Australian Grand Prix victory.

The Ferrari driver jumped pole sitter Hamilton in the pit-stops then comfortably led home from the Silver Arrows, with Valtteri Bottas claiming third.

Hamilton made a strong start from pole position, but Vettel kept him in sight throughout the opening stint and closed to within a second before Hamilton dived into the pits on lap 17.

The Mercedes driver still had the upper hand when he emerged, but the pendulum swung towards Vettel when Hamilton got bottled up behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Verstappen’s defence cost Hamilton dear when Vettel emerged in front of both when he stopped on lap 23.

Vettel then ran off, extended his lead to almost ten seconds before Hamilton made inroads late on – then back to 9.975 seconds behind at the flag.

Bottas caught his team-mate after a disappointing first stint left him a few seconds adrift, but ended up settling for a third position.

Behind the top three, Kimi Raikkonen had a quiet race for Ferrari, only coming into play late on when Max Verstappen briefly threatened to steal fourth.

The Red Bull driver was running super-softs compared to Raikkonen’s softs in the second stint, and caught The Iceman at a rapid rate in the final third of the Australian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s charge included a brief hold on fastest lap, but Raikkonen kept pushing and settle the score by taking fastest lap from Bottas on the penultimate tour.

Felipe Massa earned best-of-the-rest honours for Williams in comfortable fashion with sixth place, the last of the drivers not to be lapped, while Sergio Perez claimed seventh after two bold passes in his Force India.

Perez dived inside Daniil Kvyat at Turn 10 on the opening lap, then nailed the other Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz before the halfway mark with a fine round-the-outside move at Turn 3.

Kvyat ran extremely long on ultra-soft tyres in the first stint but lost out to team-mate Sainz after a surprise second stop late on.

The Toro Rosso driver finished ninth ahead of Esteban Ocon, who earned his first Formula 1 point on his Force India debut after catching and passing Fernando Alonso late on.

Alonso lost tenth to Ocon into Turn 1 and then P11 to Nico Hulkenberg as the Renault made it three-wide on the main straight, then retired his McLaren-Honda with a handling problem.

The double world champion was one of seven retirements from the opening race of the season, with Romain Grosjean the first.

Grosjean lost sixth to Massa on the opening lap, then brought a smoking Haas into the pits after just 13 laps. His team-mate Kevin Magnussen made it a double retirement for Haas in the closing stages after hitting Marcus Ericsson on the opening lap.

Home crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo started two laps down after stopping on a reconnaissance lap to the grid, and his race ended at the halfway stage after his Red Bull slowed to a halt exiting Turn 3.

Ericsson rejoined after his Magnussen clash but retired just before Ricciardo, while Williams rookie Lance Stroll and Jolyon Palmer – who rose to P14 in the early stages but suffered a braking problem in his Renault – also failed to finish.

So a fantastic result for Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel’s fourth victory for the Scuderia and the four-time world champion now leads the drivers’ standings for the first time since 2012.

Australian Grand Prix, race results after 57 laps:

1    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    57    1h24m11.670s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    57    1h24m21.645s
3    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    57    1h24m22.920s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    57    1h24m45.063s
5    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    57    1h24m40.497s
6    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    57    1h25m35.056s
7    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    56    –    1 Lap
8    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Renault    56    –    1 Lap
9    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Renault    56    –    1 Lap
10    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    56    –    1 Lap
11    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    56    –    1 Lap
12    Antonio Giovinazzi    Sauber-Ferrari    55    –    2 Laps
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    55    –    2 Laps
–    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    50    –    Retirement
–    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    46    –    Retirement
–    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    40    –    Brakes
–    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    25    –    Retirement
–    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    21    –    Retirement
–    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    15    –    Retirement
–    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    13    –    Engine
–    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    0    –    Withdrawn

9 thoughts to “Ferrari are back! Vettel victorious in Australia”

  1. Australian Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Ferrari proved that their pre-season testing form was no fluke on Sunday, as Sebastian Vettel soundly beat Lewis Hamilton to win the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton’s new Mercedes team mate, Valtteri Bottas, completed the Albert Park podium.

    After shadowing polesitter Hamilton throughout the race’s opening stages, Vettel leapfrogged the silver car at the first round of stops. From there the German never looked back, taking the chequered flag seven seconds clear to clinch Ferrari’s first win since Singapore 2015, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

    Red Bull never looked like troubling the podium and Max Verstappen was a fighting fifth. Team mate Daniel Ricciardo’s miserable home weekend continued, however.

    After a gearbox penalty had dropped him to 15th in the starting order, his RB12 then stopped en route to the grid, stuck in sixth gear. It was recovered to the garage and the Australian joined proceedings two laps down, only to retire for good at half distance with an engine failure.

    Williams veteran Felipe Massa was a distant sixth, ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez and the Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. Esteban Ocon completed the points on his Force India debut.

    Nico Hulkenberg’s first Renault drive garnered 11th place, while Sauber stand-in Antonio Giovinazzi was 12th on his F1 debut. McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne completed the cars to reach the finish.

    Romain Grosjean had the dubious honour of becoming 2017’s first retirement, when he pitted his smoking Haas at the end of Lap 14, and Jolyon Palmer followed shortly after, conceding defeat to ongoing brake issues on his Renault.

    Marcus Ericsson parked his Sauber on the grass on Lap 24, and Kevin Magnussen – with whom the Swede had clashed on the opening lap – did the same with his Haas at the very same spot 26 laps later.

    A strong drive from Williams rookie Lance Stroll ended in retirement on Lap 44, while Fernando Alonso completed the DNF list, the Spaniard pulling his McLaren into the garage less than five laps from home.

  2. Fernando Alonso says he was driving the best race of his life in the Australian Grand Prix, before he was forced to retire with a suspension failure.

    The McLaren driver had qualified in 13th position and was running in the points in 10th when his suspension failed seven laps from the end.

    Alonso admitted running in the points with such an “uncompetitive car” was a surprise to him.

    “It was probably the best race of my life until that moment,” said Alonso. “Few times I’ve had such a an uncompetitive car, without any winter preparation, having to save fuel in a brutal way – I think we had to lift about a second per lap – and even so we were in the points.

    “It was a pretty big surprise what we were doing, but in the end we couldn’t complete it. But it was probably one of the best races I’ve had.”

    The Spanish driver reckons the upcoming races will be harder for McLaren given the lack of power from the Honda engine, which he said was making him over 30km/h slower on the straight than his rivals.

    “As I said, there’ll be few times with a weekend like this: 13th in qualifying and running in the points I think it’s something that’s going to be basically impossible in the next races,” he said.

    “This track is difficult, very narrow, very bumpy, where you need experience.

    “On normal tracks our position will be a bit lower so we we need to improve immediately because otherwise we are going to have very frustrating races.”

    Alonso reiterated that McLaren and Honda need to react quickly if the team is to be able to fight for points.

    Asked about Honda’s plan to introduce an updated engine later on in the season, he said: “I don’t know. That’s another question for McLaren, which has to find something as soon as possible because otherwise Stoffel and I will do all we can every weekend but it will be hard to score.”

    Teammate Stoffel Vandoorne finished the race as the last classified driver in 13th, two laps down.


  3. Lewis Hamilton says early stop was a necessity. has the full story.

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says the early stop that left him vulnerable in the fight against Sebastian Vettel in the F1 2017 opener was down to “running out of grip”.

    Hamilton led the Australian Grand Prix off the line, but was hassled by Vettel throughout the opening stint and eventually came in for his only stop 17 laps into the 57-lap race.

    He was instantly on the pace with the set of fresh softs, but soon found himself stuck behind Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. He was told passing the Dutchman was “race critical” and replied: “I don’t know how you expect me to do that.”

    As Vettel pitted from the lead a few laps later, he emerged right ahead of the battling duo, completing a successful ‘overcut’ and going on to comfortably win the race.

    In the podium interviews, runner-up Hamilton explained the early stop: “In the race we struggled with the tyres. I had to stop earlier as we ran out of grip. We pitted and got stuck behind one of the Red Bulls.”

    The Briton elaborated further in the post-race press conference: “We were struggling with the grip from the get-go, Seb was able to always answer the laptime – and the majority of the time he would do faster laptimes.

    “Towards the end, I got in traffic and started to overheat tyres and struggle with grip. The gap was closing up and I was slowing down.

    “I came in and got stuck in traffic – which is a bit unfortunate, but that is motor racing.”

    Bottas says Ferrari “no doubt” quicker

    Mercedes newcomer Valtteri Bottas had followed the Hamilton/Vettel battle early on, but soon dropped off, going on to a third-place finish on his debut with the Silver Arrows.

    And just like his teammate Hamilton, the Finn reported he was missing grip in the opening stint on ultrasofts.

    “We as a team we did a good job with the car we have,” Bottas said. “Ferrari was quicker today – there is no doubt about that. They did a great job and better job for this race.

    “From my side, the main thing was first stint, I struggled quite a lot with ultrasoft, felt I was sliding around, missing front grip and rear grip, especially after 10 laps, that wasn’t easy.

    “But once we put the soft tyre on, it was actually quite a good feeling, really nice to drive. But it was a bit too late and we’re still missing pace.

    “Overall, not a disaster first race weekend with the team but I do have points I will take to do better next time.”

  4. After winning the Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari are unsure if its car is quicker than Mercedes. has the details.

    Ferrari’s engineering chief Jock Clear says he can’t judge whether the Scuderia’s car is now faster than Mercedes after Sebastian Vettel claimed victory in the season-opening Australian GP.

    After the race, Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff said: “Some you win and some you lose and Ferrari had the quicker car.”

    But Clear was uncertain about that claim, saying it was impossible to tell from the evidence of the opening round in the Vettel-Lewis Hamilton battle for victory.

    “If they’d got into a close battle at some stage we would have seen who was quicker,” Clear told Sky Sports F1.

    “But, honestly, I can’t tell you which was the quicker car today, because I don’t think either of them saw the opportunity to really pile on the pressure.

    “Early on, Lewis was managing the pace because that was the right thing to do. And once Seb was ahead he was managing the pace.

    “We really still don’t know the answer to how quick we are in absolute terms. We know that today we won.”

    Strategy evolved on the pitwall

    On the subject of the pitstops, which turned the race, Clear said Ferrari was considering an undercut before Hamilton pitted early on lap 18.

    That forced its hand into an overcut, which was aided when Hamilton got stuck behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

    “We were always thinking that we probably had reasonable pace the undercut was possible,” said Clear. “We were trying to get right up behind Hamilton for the undercut – and he went early.

    “From that point you think ‘okay we go as long as we can and maybe we attack them at the end’, but then he got caught up in traffic and the undercut offered itself effectively.

    “Honestly it was sort of fell into our hands when he got stuck behind Verstappen. You prepare for these things, the strategy beforehand understands that that may happen.

    “Obviously Seb was pushing as soon as Lewis came in, because if he has a warm-up problem or anything you overcut. Obviously getting stuck behind Verstappen played into our hands.”

  5. Max Verstappen said Red Bull exceeded his expectations on Sunday in Melbourne, leaving him cautiously optimistic about the team’s prospects for the opening races in 2017.

    The Dutchman had predicted a lonely race in which he would be unable to keep pace with either Mercedes or Ferrari – but in the event, he finished just a few seconds behind Kimi Raikkonen, having shadowed the Finn for the duration of the season-opening Grand Prix.

    “I’m still a bit surprised that I was quite close to Kimi,” Verstappen said after the race.

    “I think the car behaved quite a bit better in the race than in qualifying. It’s difficult to say how much [Red Bull still trail Mercedes and Ferrari], but it looked a lot better in the race.

    “The race was a lot more positive than qualifying; I’m happy about that.

    “We still need to improve, and we will – and we’ll see what happens in the next few races.”

    While Verstappen finished fifth, team mate Daniel Ricciardo suffered a string of misfortunes as a gearbox sensor issue forced him to start from the pit lane two laps into the race, before a separate engine problem prompted his retirement.

    “Obviously I’m disappointed today, but I’ll wake up tomorrow and prepare for China,” Ricciardo said. “It’s been a long week.

    “Don’t get me wrong it’s been fun, I just feel bad for everyone, the fans. I’m sure they would have loved me to get out and race.

    “If I look on bright side, the positive was that Max seemed to have relatively good pace – so maybe we can learn from his race pace and as a team move forward.”


  6. This was a difficult race for the home crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo. The Red Bull driver suffered so much technical issues with his RB13. The honey badger is “happy to move on” from disastrous home Grand Prix. has the details.

    Daniel Ricciardo said his awful Australian Grand Prix was a race weekend that “snowballed” out of his control.

    After crashing out in qualifying, Ricciardo’s rebuilt car ground to a halt on the out-lap from the pits with a gearbox sensor failure that required him to be towed back to the pits.

    He joined the race two laps down, before a power unit issue stranded him out on track.

    “On the plus side, I’m getting out of here – it’s been a long week,” said Ricciardo. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fun, but I feel bad for everyone, bad for the fans obviously – I believe there’s more people here supporting me than the others.

    “It just kinda snowballed from yesterday. The five[-place] grid penalty sounded bad enough but we had other issues.

    “We were laps down, but getting some information – it was valuable track time.

    “At the end we believe it was something to do with fuel pressure – basically it just switched off. It was just instant, there was no procedure I could do to stay out there.

    “Happy to move on. I’m disappointed today, but I’ll be ready tomorrow to go for China.”
    Verstappen content with fifth

    Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen was far happier with his fortunes, and was delighted to play a key role in the outcome of the lead fight – when he was able to hold off Lewis Hamilton in his first stint – and keep Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in sight throughout.

    “I was still a bit surprised I was that close to Kimi,” said Verstappen. “Pace was quite good compared to him, and behind me there was not much pressure.

    “The car behaved quite a bit better in the race than qualifying. We still need to improve, and we will, so we’ll see in the next few races.”

  7. The new Formula 1 era at the Australian Grand Prix will be remembered when Ferrari beat Mercedes. And yet the Silver Arrows insists that this Australia defeat was down to Ferrari pace, not race strategy. has the news story.

    Mercedes Formula 1 team boss Toto Wolff believes Sebastian Vettel’s victory in the Australian Grand Prix was down to the Ferrari having a pace advantage rather than a strategic error from the Silver Arrows.

    Lewis Hamilton led the early stages of the Australian Grand Prix before becoming the first of the frontrunners to make a pitstop after 17 laps.

    He re-emerged behind Max Verstappen, and time lost behind the Dutchman allowed Vettel to pit six laps later and stay ahead.

    “No, Ferrari was the quicker car,” he said when asked if strategy was to blame.

    “The way Sebastian held onto Lewis, on his gearbox [in the first stint], we were pushing flat out and we were just not able to pull away.

    “There was the risk of the undercut and we also thought that the tyres wouldn’t last anymore. And all that led us to the decision to pit to avoid the undercut.

    “And then coming out behind Max, who was fighting his own race, just lost us the race.”

    Wolff did admit that Hamilton’s stop came slightly early and that this played a part in losing the race.

    Hamilton had struggled for grip in the first stint, and was concerned he would be passed on track if he stayed out longer.

    “You’re trying to take on board all the information you have, what you see in terms of tyre temperatures and grip levels and sliding, and then, of course, how the driver perceives it,” said Wolff.

    “All of that leads to a decision, and in that case it was probably a couple of laps early.”

    But despite that, Wolff did not suggest the result could definitely have been reversed with a different approach to the race.

    “After the race is always easier, when you rewind and say what we could’ve done better,” said Wolff.

    “But we just weren’t quick enough today and that’s why Sebastian is the deserved winner.

    “If you look back and say ‘what could we have done better’ – we could have done better for sure. Would it have been enough to win? I don’t know.

    “Sebastian could have attempted the undercut at any stage and it could’ve come out the same way.”

  8. Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said “it was about time” Ferrari returned to winning ways after triumphing in the Australian grand Prix.

    Sebastian Vettel beat Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton to give Ferrari its first win since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix and its first in the season-opening race since 2010.

    The victory also meant a non-Mercedes driver is leading the championship for the first time since 2013.

    Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth to help Ferrari lead the constructors’ championship.

    “It was about time,” said Marchionne in a statement released after the race. “I am delighted for the team and for our tifosi who stood by us throughout this whole period.

    “We’ve been waiting for this victory for almost a year and a half. Hearing the Italian national anthem again was very moving.

    “Sebastian delivered a great race and I am sure Kimi will be soon up there battling alongside his teammate.

    “Of course, this victory is something to share with the entire team, both at the circuit and back in Maranello, because teamwork is the only way to achieve major goals.”

    Marchionne insisted the victory was only the first step in a very long championship and urged his team to remain focused.

    “Now, however, it is absolutely essential to remember that this is not the destination but the first step on a long road that must see us all focused on improving each and every day,” he added.


  9. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel says Lewis Hamilton being held up by Max Verstappen was the key to his Australian Grand Prix win. has the details.

    Sebastian Vettel feels Lewis Hamilton being held up by Max Verstappen was “crucial” to Ferrari beating Mercedes to victory in Formula 1’s 2017 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    Vettel ran close behind Hamilton in the opening stint of the Melbourne race and took the lead by running longer than the British driver.

    Hamilton pitted on lap 17 and lost time behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull when he emerged, with Vettel staying out for six more laps.

    Vettel emerged just in front of the pair, rebuffed a Verstappen attack into Turn 3 and built a lead of six seconds by the time Verstappen pit two laps later and released Hamilton.

    “I was struggling to keep up, but still hanging in there,” Vettel said of his first stint. “I knew I needed to be right behind him.

    “Once it was clear that he went in, there was no point to follow. We stayed out, the tyres were still holding on and the pace looked alright.

    “It was very tight. I knew that Max would probably try something but I just kept in front.

    “That was obviously crucial for our race, I tried to push for as hard as I could for the one or two Max was still out to open a bit of a gap and control the race.

    “We did a very good race. I’m very happy with the calls today.”

    Hamilton said he made the call to stop earlier, because he feared Vettel was about to pass him on track as the Mercedes struggled for grip.

    “I was struggling with the grip from the get-go,” he explained. “Sebastian was able to always answer in terms of lap time, and the majority of the time do faster lap times.

    “Then towards the end I got a bit in traffic and started to overheat the tyres and I was struggling with grip and it was to the point that I needed to come in.

    “The gap was closing up and I was sliding around. So it was my call because otherwise he probably would have come by anyway.

    “So then I came in and then I got obviously stuck in traffic, which is a little bit unfortunate but that’s motor racing.”


    Hamilton’s lead in the opening stint was never more than two seconds, and Vettel had moved to within DRS range when the British driver came into the pits.

    Vettel said he enjoyed being able to push throughout the opening stint, despite doing 23 laps on ultra-soft tyres.

    “It was very pleasant,” he said. “A different race to last year, where you had to manage a lot.

    “Now I think it was a bit more raw, especially the beginning. Even if it wasn’t a wheel-to-wheel fight I could see Lewis was pushing really hard.

    “It was nice that we could just push and race to the first stop.”

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