Vettel jumps Hamilton to score victory at Melbourne

Sebastian Vettel took advantage of a mid-race safety car period to steal victory from rival Lewis Hamilton at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver Vettel was third in the opening stint but ran longer than his rival Hamilton and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Sebastian benefited a great deal from a caution period just before he was due to pit for tyres.

Vettel was able to hold off Hamilton’s subsequent recovery attempt with ease, aided by his fellow four-time champion running off-track in pursuit, to win by 5.9 seconds as Raikkonen completed a double Scuderia Ferrari podium in third.

Hamilton kept the lead at the start and rebuffed an attack from Raikkonen at Turn 3 before settling into a comfortable lead that stood at more than three seconds, as Vettel kept a watching brief in the other Ferrari.

Kevin Magnussen’s move around the outside of Turn 1 to jump Max Verstappen gave the front three chance to break clear, and the race was descending into a procession as the first stint developed.

Verstappen’s Red Bull looked erratic behind the Haas and he complained of overheating rears, which concluded with a dramatic spin at Turn 1 that dropped Verstappen to eighth.

The only other movement before the pitstops was Carlos Sainz Jr running wide at Turn 9 in his Renault and allowing Fernando Alonso’s McLaren into ninth, but the race was turned on its head by the two Haas pitstops.

Magnussen pulled up at Turn 3 after his left rear wheel was not correctly fitted, and team-mate Romain Grosjean suffered a similar fate just a lap later when a problem on his front left led to the Frenchman pulling over on the left-hand side on the exit of Turn 1 immediately.

That triggered a virtual safety car, which was a blessing to Ferrari as it had used its two-against-one advantage over Mercedes to good effect, bringing in Raikkonen early so Hamilton had to stop one lap later to protect against the Ferrari’s fresh-tyre advantage.

Vettel stayed out several laps longer and, with the virtual safety car deployed, he was able to take advantage and pit while the rest circulated slowly. The Ferrari emerge just ahead of Hamilton, turning a nine-second deficit into the race lead.

A real safety car soon replaced its virtual equivalent and the race remained neutralised until lap 32, giving Hamilton 26 laps to overhaul Vettel.

Hamilton stayed around a second behind Vettel for a lot of that time, then started a serious push with a dozen laps remaining but locked up at the Turn 9 right-hander and skated over the grass.

That dropped him back to almost three seconds behind and though he briefly got back within DRS range with five laps to go he complained of overheating rears and slipped back again.

Raikkonen kept a charging Daniel Ricciardo at bay to finish third, while Alonso – the other big winner from the mid-race safety car – claimed fifth despite immense pressure from Verstappen.

Nico Hulkenberg had a quiet run to seventh place for Renault, chasing Alonso and Verstappen late on.

Valtteri Bottas’s unspectacular recovery from P15 was boosted by the safety car and he took eighth from another beneficiary, Stoffel Vandoorne, with a nice move at Turn 3 on the restart. He then closed on Hulkenberg but was unable to pass and ended up back under pressure from Vandoorne.

The final point of the season opener went to Carlos Sainz Jr in the second Renault, who held off Sergio Perez’s Force India despite claiming he was suffering from nausea in the final third of the race.

As well as the race-changing Haas failures, three other teams lost a car over the course of the opening grand prix.

Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin was the first retirement of the season after suffering a brake problem on lap six, while Marcus Ericsson brought his power steering-less Sauber into the pits on lap 14 and Pierre Gasly failed to finish after a Honda engine problem in his Toro Rosso.

So a fantastic result for Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel at Melbourne. The virtual safety car definitely helped on race strategy to jump ahead of rival Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. This was Vettel’s ninth victory for the Scuderia and his 48th in Formula 1. Congratulations on this top result.

Australian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 58 1h29m33.283s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 5.036s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 58 6.309s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 58 7.069s
5 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 58 27.886s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 58 28.945s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 58 32.671s
8 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 34.339s
9 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 58 34.921s
10 Carlos Sainz Renault 58 45.722s
11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 58 46.817s
12 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 58 1m00.278s
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 58 1m15.759s
14 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 58 1m18.288s
15 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 57 1 Lap
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 24 Retirement
– Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 22 Retirement
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 13 Retirement
– Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 5 Hydraulics
– Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 4 Brakes

Drivers’ standings:
1 Sebastian Vettel 25
2 Lewis Hamilton 18
3 Kimi Raikkonen 15
4 Daniel Ricciardo 12
5 Fernando Alonso 10
6 Max Verstappen 8
7 Nico Hulkenberg 6
8 Valtteri Bottas 4
9 Stoffel Vandoorne 2
10 Carlos Sainz 1
11 Sergio Perez 0
12 Esteban Ocon 0
13 Charles Leclerc 0
14 Lance Stroll 0
15 Brendon Hartley 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Ferrari 40
2 Mercedes 22
3 Red Bull-Renault 20
4 McLaren-Renault 12
5 Renault 7
6 Force India-Mercedes 0
7 Sauber-Ferrari 0
8 Williams-Mercedes 0
9 Toro Rosso-Honda 0

10 thoughts to “Vettel jumps Hamilton to score victory at Melbourne”

  1. Australian Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Ferrari defeated Mercedes for the second successive year in Australia as Sebastian Vettel made the most of good fortune to snatch victory from Lewis Hamilton in the 2018 F1 season opener on Sunday.

    Hamilton looked on course for victory, but Vettel took advantage of running longer and pitting during a virtual safety car period to lead the race before absorbing massive pressure from his old rival to secure his 48th career victory.

    Reigning world champion Hamilton has now converted just two of his seven pole positions in Melbourne while Vettel’s victory means he has now achieved 100 podiums, joining Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Hamilton in that elite club.

    Vettel’s team mate Kimi Raikkonen kept Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo at bay to secure the final podium position, but there was heartbreak for Haas as both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean retired from fourth and fifth following a wheel gun issue during their pit stops, which stewards are investigating.

    Hamilton got away cleanly from pole to maintain the lead into Turn 1 and then held off an optimistic attack from Raikkonen into Turn 3.

    The duo then traded fastest laps across the first stint, with Hamilton gradually stretching his lead as the first round of pit stops approached.

    Ferrari were the first to blink, calling Raikkonen in from second on lap 19 with the Finn swapping the ultrasoft tyres for the more durable softs and rejoining in third.

    Mercedes responded immediately, bringing Hamilton in next time around and mirroring Raikkonen’s tyre strategy, with the Briton re-joining in second. Vettel stayed out, as Ferrari rolled the dice, with Hamilton slowly chipping away at the German’s lead as he made the most of his fresher tyres.

    However, the race was turned on its head when Haas drivers Magnussen and Grosjean, who were running fourth and fifth, retired within a lap of each other. The team had an issue with the front left wheel gun, as both pulled off the track on their outlaps after visiting the pits.

    Haas team boss Guenther Steiner dumped his head in his hands on the pit wall, as the reality of the loss of a huge haul of points hit.

    The virtual safety car was activated, allowing drivers who had not pitted to gain an advantage by diving in as the rest of the field was driving to a permitted minimum lap time. Vettel was one of those drivers and a clean stop by Ferrari helped him emerge from the pits ahead of Hamilton.

    Hamilton was gutted, asking his team on team radio what happened and whether he had made a mistake. His team responded that they thought they were safe but “there’s obviously something wrong”.

    Vettel and Hamilton traded fastest laps, with Hamilton keeping himself within one second to give him access to the DRS, but he struggled to find a way past.

    Further back, Ricciardo, who had started eighth after a three-place grid penalty, pulled off a brilliant pass on Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg to begin his recovery drive. The Australian came from miles back, going deep on the brakes into Turn 13 to make the pass stick.

    As the two Haas drivers retired and his team mate Verstappen spun, he soon found himself fourth and heaping the pressure on Raikkonen, with the chance of becoming the first Australian to score a podium on home soil within touching distance.

    Up front, it was nip and tuck between Vettel and Hamilton. The reigning world champion asked his team: “Can I push yet? You know how much you want it. Come on. I’m going for it”.

    Hamilton put the hammer down, closing to within half a second, but he had a lock-up into T9, running wide and dropping back to 2.9s from Vettel, who then controlled things to the chequered flag.

    McLaren kicked off their season strongly, with Fernando Alonso’s fine fifth the team’s best result since the 2016 United States Grand Prix and earning him the driver of the day award, with team mate Stoffel Vandoorne ninth.

    Verstappen crossed the line sixth, with Hulkenberg seventh and Valtteri Bottas, who started from 15th after crashing his Mercedes in qualifying, eighth. Carlos Sainz completed the top 10 in the second Renault.

    Force India finished just outside of the points with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon 11th and 12th respectively, with Charles Leclerc impressing on his debut with 13th for Sauber. Williams’ Lance Stroll and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley completed the finishers.

    Sergey Sirotkin became 2018’s first retirement, following brake failure, while Pierre Gasly’s Honda engine expired to put the Toro Rosso driver out. Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber failed to finish, too, after he encountered a power steering problem.

  2. Mercedes blames “software problem” for Australian Grand Prix defeat. has the news story.

    Mercedes suspects a software glitch was to blame for it losing victory at the Australian Grand Prix to Sebastian Vettel during a virtual safety car period.

    Lewis Hamilton had led the early stages of the race but was leapfrogged by Vettel during a mid-race VSC period that had been called to help marshals retrieve Romain Grosjean’s Haas car.

    While Hamilton was baffled by having lost the lead without any warning from the team, Mercedes thinks that a software programming issue meant it was not made aware of the threat that Vettel had posed.

    Speaking after the race to Sky, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said: “We thought we had about a three-second margin, so we need to ask the computers – and that is what we are doing at the moment.

    “If we have a software problem somewhere, we have to fix it.

    “I think the problem is within our system. Fifteen seconds is what you need and we had 12, which we thought was enough – but it wasn’t.”

    Wolff suggested that part of the problem had come up because Mercedes’ system had not correctly calculated the gaps during a particularly close race.

    “It is a situation we didn’t have yet with a special constellation of cars on track, so the gap that we needed was wrongly calculated by the system,” he said.

    “The way the algorithms are set up, the way the computers are programmed, the green light was always enough for us to stay ahead. But then we saw the TV pictures and it wasn’t enough.”

  3. Carlos Sainz says a problem with his Renault car’s water pump meant he nearly vomited during Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    The Spanish driver reported on the radio during the race that he was feeling nauseous as he fought to defend 10th position from Force India’s Sergio Perez.

    In the end Sainz managed to keep his rival at bay despite the stomach problems, but the Renault driver admitted it had been a very tough day.

    “We had a problem with the water pump and during the first 10 or 15 laps it was squirting water on my face, so I was drinking too much water,” Sainz explained.

    “When the safety car came out I had a lot of water in my stomach and was moving from side to side and I was feeling it a lot in the corners and I wasn’t feeling well.

    “I managed to survive as best I could and I reached the finish.”

    He added: “Very uncomfortable. With the g-forces we have this year, having the stomach full of water, moving from side to side, I don’t know if it was a stomach cramp or what, but I wasn’t comfortable.”

    Sainz, running eighth at the start, lost a place to McLaren rival Fernando Alonso when he went off at Turn 9 early in the race.

    The Renault driver said the incident was caused by how unwell he was feeling.

    “It was a consequence of the rest. If you are not comfortable, in the end you are not feeling good, you can’t push to the limit, and you are not 100 percent, and that’s what happened today,” he added.

    “So I’m half happy to have been able to score a point because there was a moment in the race where I nearly started vomiting during the safety car, so I struggled.”

    Teammate Nico Hulkenberg completed a double points finish for Renault by taking seventh place.


  4. The opening stint for Haas was looking promising with Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean running in the top six. But after the first pitstop, both drivers were forced to retire. Later on a big fine was added to Haas’ misery after “heartbreaking” DNFs. has the details.

    The Haas Formula 1 team has been fined $10,000 for the unsafe pit releases that led to Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean’s Australian Grand Prix retirements.

    Magnussen and Grosjean were running fourth and fifth in Melbourne prior to the first pitstops, having shared the third row of the grid, but both cars retired on their out-laps.

    Though no official reason for the retirements has been given, the FIA stewards have ruled that both cars were “released in an unsafe condition”, suggesting the wheels were not correctly fastened.

    Television footage of the pitstops showed mechanics expressing concern as each car was released.

    The stewards imposed two $5000 fines, one for each incident, but noted “the team ordered the car stopped immediately, and the driver stopped as fast as he safely could”.

    Magnussen, who had been fending off Max Verstappen early on before the Red Bull spun while chasing him, admitted the early retirement was “heartbreaking” given Haas’s form this weekend.

    “A very tough one to swallow for the whole team with both cars not finishing in such good positions and with so much anticipation coming up to this race,” he told Sky.

    “It’s just so heartbreaking to finish like that. We’ll get on top again and we’ll fight back and do it all again.”

    Grosjean moved up to fifth behind Magnussen following Verstappen’s spin and was successfully resisting the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo heading towards the stops.

    “Today I had great pace. I’m sure I could’ve stayed a bit more with the frontrunners if I’d been in front of Kevin early in race,” said Grosjean.

    “We will analyse everything and understand what happened and come back strongly as we always do.

    “Right now everyone is down and we need to analyse if it’s a problem with the guns or a problem with the mechanic.

    “We didn’t have any problems in winter testing so it’s strange. It’s a lot of points lost today but if we can repeat that performance we’ll forget this very quickly.”

  5. Despite winning the Australian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel has admitted that Ferrari are not yet “a true match” for Mercedes. has the news story.

    Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari’s 2018 Formula 1 car is not currently “a true match” for Mercedes, despite having beaten Lewis Hamilton to victory in the Australian Grand Prix.

    Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen had been unable to challenge Hamilton in Melbourne qualifying, both finishing almost seven tenths off the reigning champion,

    But a different strategy coupled with a fortuitously-timed virtual safety car interruption in the race allowed the German to jump from third to first in the order, and he duly held off Hamilton for victory.

    Vettel conceded after the race that he was “a bit lucky” to win, as he admitted Ferrari was not yet where it wanted to be.

    “If you look at the gaps the whole weekend, we are not yet a true match [for Mercedes],” he conceded.

    “Therefore at this point we know that we are not yet where we want to be, because we want to be fastest.”

    The 2018 Australian GP echoed last year’s F1 season opener at the same venue, in which Vettel likewise used strategy to deny poleman Hamilton.

    However, the German admitted it was a different situation now, and that this Sunday’s victory came as more of a surprise.

    “Last year we had more pace relative [to Mercedes], last year we were putting them under pressure,” Vettel recalled.

    “Even though Lewis was in the lead we managed to put him under pressure, so he was forced to pit and we benefitted from that, because we had the speed.

    “Today I think we didn’t have the true race pace to match them.

    “We still had enough pace to stay ahead and make it very difficult for him to be close and try to do something, and compared to the others it didn’t look like there was no whole train behind us too, so I think we had some decent pace.”

    Having initially “lost connection” with Hamilton and teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the first stint – before strategy allowed him to leapfrog both – Vettel said he was not yet fully confident with the SF71H.

    “I think the car has huge potential, but yeah, I’m still struggling a little bit.

    “I want the car to be spot on when I hit the brakes and turn in, and in that window I’m not yet happy.

    “So, it’s always sort of a compromise, because it’s our job to drive around the problems that we have.

    “Not a big drama, I think we can live with it, but I feel also if we can get on top of that, feel more confident – at a track like here, when you have confidence, it makes a big difference.

    “Today was quite windy, very gusty, always tried to push but equally tried to be a bit safe, didn’t want to throw it away – and that’s exactly what makes the difference.

    “When you have the confidence and you trust the car, you don’t think for a second, you just go out and do it.”

  6. Valtteri Bottas believes a miscalculation in his car’s cooling may have cost him a better result in Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

    Mercedes driver Bottas started the race from 15th place on the grid after needing a new gearbox following his crash during the third segment of qualifying on Saturday.

    Although Mercedes appeared to have the fastest car in Melbourne, Bottas could not progress much, finishing down in eighth position, behind four Renault-powered cars.

    The Finn struggled to overtake his rivals and revealed after the race that overheating issues with his engine were forcing him to ease off every couple of laps, making it impossible to maintain the pressure on the driver in front.

    “We expected it was going to be difficult, and we knew that you need a big pace difference delta to overtake if the other guy doesn’t do any mistake, and especially if there’s a train of cars like I had in the whole second stint,” said Bottas.

    “There was not a lot of things happening that were really helping me.

    “I think with the VSC maybe I gained a little bit, stopping under that, but other than that it was a pretty frustrating race in the end because we do have a good car but there was nothing I could do.

    “On top of that what was really limiting us today was overheating. I think there was something wrong with the calculation for the cooling we estimated for today so I couldn’t really be close to other cars and couldn’t put pressure on other cars for long.

    “I could only do about two laps and then I had to back off and try again.”

    The Mercedes driver also reckons the gap between Mercedes and its rivals is not as big as it used to be, something that made things even harder for him.

    “The engine difference is not massive anymore,” Bottas added. “We still have a bit of an advantage over Renault, but it’s not massive and those cars, they are not too bad in the corners. I couldn’t get any closer really.

    “All the teams are closer so that makes it difficult.”

    While Bottas conceded the safety car period played in his favour, he thinks it did not make a difference to his result.

    “I think it didn’t make much of a difference. I think maybe it helped a little bit to create an opportunity for the restart but nothing really happened. I think the end result was not so different with or without.”


  7. This was a disappointing race for Max Verstappen. Red Bull Racing’s team boss Christian Horner commented that car damage was a factor in Verstappen’s spin. has the details.

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Max Verstappen’s spin during the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix was partly a consequence of damage he sustained while pursuing Kevin Magnussen.

    Verstappen made a strong initial getaway at the start of the race, but his line approaching the first corner was compromised by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and allowed Haas driver Magnussen to squeeze past around the outside into fourth.

    The Dutchman later spun at Turn 1 at the start of lap 10 and dropped to eighth, before finishing the race in sixth.

    Horner said Verstappen had damaged the rear of his car after running wide at the fast Turn 11/12 left-right complex on lap six, which left him struggling with sporadic losses of downforce.

    “I think where he was unlucky was at the start,” said Horner. “He had a good initial start, he went to the right of Vettel [and] he had a run at him.

    “But unfortunately he got boxed in there and Magnussen was able to take advantage of a clear track and faster line through the first couple of turns and sneak ahead of Max.

    “As soon as he was behind the Haas, knowing how tough it is to overtake around here, he absolutely went for it, got a bit wide I think [in] Turn 11/12 on lap six and that damaged the rear diffuser and created a significant imbalance for him, which he did incredibly well to manage for the rest of the race.

    “But that then caught him out at Turn 1. He was getting intermittent loss of rear downforce in mid-corners, but [there was] nothing he could do about it.”

    Horner said he believed Verstappen’s position loss at the first corner had hampered his race more than the damage and subsequent spin.

    “I think more damage was probably done at the first corner, because as we saw today even with a car advantage to overtake is impossible here,” he added.

    “He was having a pretty rough ride with it, but he did incredibly well to be pushing Fernando as hard as he was at the end.

    “Even with a pace advantage, Lewis couldn’t pass Sebastian, Daniel couldn’t pass Kimi, Bottas couldn’t pass anybody, that was the way it was.”

  8. Mercedes picked them out as the dark horse and for the early part of the Australian Grand Prix, it looked as if Haas would live up to that billing. But then a “freak” incident hit…

    Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were running fourth and fifth respectively at Albert Park, putting Haas on course to score their best-ever result since joining the F1 fray in 2016.

    However, in a catastrophic few moments for the American team, both cars retired on the lap following their respective pit stops, losing them a potential 22 points, which is just shy of half their entire tally in 2017.

    Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said the wheel nuts were cross-threaded on both cars, meaning the tyre wasn’t fixed correctly before each departed their pit box.

    “It was just a bad pit stop,” said Steiner. “The wheelnut was on but it was cross-threaded. That doesn’t tighten the wheel up but for the mechanic, it feels like it is tightened and it wasn’t.

    “Sometimes, these pit stops, they are so quick you have no time to check it and they didn’t check. It wasn’t correctly on. These things happen. What can you do?

    “It’s unbelievable to have the same problem in two stops, one on the front wheel, one on the rear wheel. Even if it’s not believable, it’s real. It happened.

    “It’s very disappointing end to the day for us. But the pace was good, the car was running. It is still a feel good story as we’re up with the big boys.”

    Steiner said a combination of factors, including not enough pit stop practice, led to the problems during Sunday’s race in Melbourne.

    “This weekend was very intense for us, we had issues in FP1 and FP2,” said Steiner. “We didn’t have many spares so we didn’t do a lot of practice.

    “We didn’t do a lot of pit stop practice, we did the minimum. That could be one of the reasons.

    “What we need to do and this is what we have discussed is that when we get to Bahrain to start as quickly as possible to practice there.

    “A lot of people who are part of the pit crew are leaving early to set up out there so you never have a full crew. If you train with a half crew, it’s can be even worse.

    “You have to focus on Thursday to put the pit stop practice in.”

    Magnussen added it was “so heartbreaking to finish like that” but vowed Haas will “fight back and do it all again”.

    Haas were fined €10,000 for the unsafe pit releases with the punishment noting “the team ordered the car stopped immediately, and the driver stopped as fast as he safely could”.


  9. Lewis Hamilton had the “extra tools” needed to keep clear of Sebastian Vettel had Mercedes not misjudged the gap it required during the Australian Grand Prix.

    Vettel jumped from third to first in the 2018 Formula 1 season opener with a later pitstop taken while Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen lapped slowly during a virtual safety car period.

    During a VSC, drivers must keep above minimum sector times mandated via the FIA’s control ECU. A pitstop under VSC conditions is less costly because the speed disparity between the pitlane limit and cars on track is lower.

    Hamilton had closed the gap to Vettel to 11.614 seconds when the VSC was deployed, which Mercedes thought was enough to ensure it would reclaim the lead when the Ferrari pitted.

    It only realised its calculation was wrong when Vettel emerged from the pits in front.

    “They don’t fully understand it still, so they couldn’t give me an exact reason as to why it was the way it was,” said Hamilton. “So, I can’t really say how I feel about it.

    “It’s never easy to lose a grand prix but there were so many positives to take from this weekend.

    “In the race I had extra tools, I could have been further ahead by the first pitstop.

    “There were so many good things we could have done, but if one thing is telling you one thing, and you think you’re doing it to the book, within the limits, then there’s nothing you can do.”

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agreed that Hamilton had pace in reserve.

    “I think we would have been able to, yeah,” he said when asked if the gap could have been made bigger.

    “Lewis knew that he needed to make it to the end on the tyre and drove to the target, and we probably would have had the gap.”

    Hamilton said he would prefer to be racing in an era that did not rely on technology so much.

    He also stressed that the negativity of the result should not overshadow a strong weekend.

    “I wish it was more in my hands, because I feel like I was driving as good as ever today,” he said.

    “Everyone in the team is feeling it, but there’s so much great work, there’s so much positivity to take forward with us.

    “We still got second today. It feels like a dark cloud, but it’s still a positive result.

    “We’ve got a great car, we are still the world champions, and with a couple of adjustments we can win the next race. I believe that.”


  10. Pure heartbreak for Haas as both cars were running well during the first stage of the Australian Grand Prix. But following the pitstop, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were forced to retire. Haas blames lack of practice for pitstop blunders. has the news story.

    The Haas Formula 1 team is planning extra pitstop practice ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, after suggesting poor preparation contributed to the problems that ruined its race in Australia.

    Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were looking set to finish inside the top six in Melbourne, before a pair of “heartbreaking” unsafe pitstops put both cars out of the first F1 race of the season and cost Haas a €10,000 fine.

    Team principal Gunther Steiner said a lack of pitstop practice had likely contributed to the mechanics cross-threading wheelnuts at the stops, and insisted the team would work harder on its procedures ahead of the next race.

    “This weekend was very tense for us – we had some issues in FP1, FP2, we didn’t have a lot of spares, so we didn’t do a lot of pitstop practice, and that could be one of the reasons,” Steiner told TV crews after the race.

    “It was just a bad pitstop. The wheelnut got on wrong and it was cross-threaded. We couldn’t catch it early enough. You work in a 2.5s window to do this and we were very unlucky.

    “We had on the wheelgun the same guys as last year, which never missed it, so it is one of these things.

    “We need to work harder on it – more practice. When we get to Bahrain start as quick as possible practice there and the guys can boost their confidence.”

    Steiner suggested Haas being a relatively new team “doesn’t help” in such situations, but urged his squad to remain confident given the strong pace its cars showed in Australia, where they qualified best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

    “They need to keep the confidence,” he added. “This is a freak incident. We need to keep our heads up. We know we have a good year in front of us, we need just to analyse what happened and how can we make it that it doesn’t happen again.

    “It is unbelievable – the same problem at two stops, one on the front wheel, one on the rear wheel, but it happened, it’s real.

    “A very disappointing end to the day for us, but the pace was good, the car was running strong – that’s the thing that keeps the spirits up.

    “We go to Bahrain with our heads high and try just to minimise these mistakes on the pitstops.”

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