Bottas dominates Australian Grand Prix with fine victory

Valtteri Bottas dominated the 2019 season-opening Australian Grand Prix with fine style after such awful luck last season. He passed team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the start and drove off into the distance to earn his first Formula 1 victory since 2017.

Hamilton beat Bottas in qualifying but lost his advantage almost immediately after a slower getaway.

The defending champion was able to resist pressure from Sebastian Vettel and latterly Max Verstappen to complete an one-two for Mercedes, while Verstappen claimed Honda’s first podium finish since the 2008 British Grand Prix on its maiden race with Red Bull.

Bottas outdragged Hamilton into Turn 1 and was left untroubled for the entirety of the race, aided by Mercedes being forced to react to an early Vettel pitstop and switch Hamilton to an inferior strategy.

Vettel stopped on lap 14 of 58, with Mercedes bringing in Hamilton one lap later to protect against the Ferrari’s fresh-tyre advantage.

However, neither was able to lap as quickly on new medium tyres as Bottas on old soft compound, which allowed Bottas, Verstappen and Charles Leclerc to run several laps longer.

Bottas finally stopped eight laps after his team-mate and continued unimpeded throughout the race, crushing the opposition by 20.8 seconds to win for the first time since the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi and produce the perfect response to his winless 2018 season.

The gap was flattered slightly by Hamilton having to nurse his mediums to the end to preserve second place, but the five-time world champion saw off Vettel in the middle phase of the race.

Hamilton then kept Verstappen at arm’s length once the Red Bull driver had cleared Vettel with ease around the outside of Turn 3 on lap 31.

Verstappen hounded the Mercedes, running 1.5 seconds behind for most of the second half of the race, before running wide at Turn 1 and bouncing over the grass.

He dropped back, continued to push and set a new fastest lap of the race in the closing stages but was unable to overhaul Hamilton.

However, Bottas hit back on the penultimate tour to steal the first bonus point of the season and take his haul from the opening race to 26 points.

Ferrari’s pre-season promise translated into fourth and fifth in Melbourne as Vettel slipped further and further back, eventually only finishing just ahead of Leclerc.

Vettel finished 50 seconds behind race winner Bottas, with Leclerc – who had a trip across the gravel at Turn 1 earlier in the race – only fifth after appearing to back off once he caught his new team-mate.

Kevin Magnussen had a lonely run to sixth to earn best-of-the-rest honours for Haas and avenge the team’s horror show in Melbourne one year ago.

He shook off the race-long attention of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who slipped back in the final part of the race and only just held on at the head of a five-car train.

Kimi Raikkonen was next up, finishing eighth on his Alfa Romeo debut, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll also scoring points on his first start for a new team.

Returning Toro Rosso Daniil Kvyat capped his F1 comeback with a point for P10, keeping the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly at bay.

Gasly started near the back after a qualifying blunder from Red Bull and emerged from a late pitstop ahead of Kvyat, but was passed by the Russian into Turn 3 on his out-lap.

Qualifying surprise Lando Norris was unable to grab points on his F1 debut but did finish top rookie in P12 as McLaren’s pace dropped come race day.

There were three retirements: Carlos Sainz the first of the new season after a fiery exit in his McLaren-Renault.

Home favourite Daniel Ricciardo was next to go, a precautionary non-finisher after breaking his front wing taking to the grass on the run to the first corner.

Romain Grosjean stopped on track in his Haas after running in the points early on before slipping outside the top ten because of a slow pitstop.

Behind 15th-placed Antonio Giovinazzi, whose very long first stint held up early stoppers and played a big part in settling the final points, the Williams were a very distant 16th and 17th.

Robert Kubica lost his front wing on Gasly at the first corner and was a lonely last on his F1 return for most of the distance once passed by fellow early-pitter Ricciardo.

So a fantastic result for Valtteri Bottas after such a disappointing last season. To finish miles ahead of your rivals is so satisfying and such a good morale boost. Well done Bottas.

As for Ferrari, this was such a frustrating race after promising speed in pre-season testing. Hopefully Vettel and Leclerc are more competitive in the next race.

Australian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 1h25m27.325s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 20.886s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 58 22.520s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 58 57.109s
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58 58.230s
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 58 1m27.156s
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 57 1 Lap
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 57 1 Lap
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 57 1 Lap
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 57 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Red Bull-Honda 57 1 Lap
12 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 57 1 Lap
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 57 1 Lap
14 Alexander Albon Toro Rosso-Honda 57 1 Lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 57 1 Lap
16 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 56 2 Laps
17 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 55 3 Laps
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 29 Suspension
– Daniel Ricciardo Renault 28 Retirement
– Carlos Sainz McLaren-Renault 9 Power Unit

Drivers’ standings:
1 Valtteri Bottas 26
2 Lewis Hamilton 18
3 Max Verstappen 15
4 Sebastian Vettel 12
5 Charles Leclerc 10
6 Kevin Magnussen 8
7 Nico Hulkenberg 6
8 Kimi Raikkonen 4
9 Lance Stroll 2
10 Daniil Kvyat 1
11 Pierre Gasly 0
12 Lando Norris 0
13 Sergio Perez 0
14 Alexander Albon 0
15 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
16 George Russell 0
17 Robert Kubica 0

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 44
2 Ferrari 22
3 Red Bull-Honda 15
4 Haas-Ferrari 8
5 Renault 6
6 Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 4
7 Racing Point-Mercedes 2
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 1
9 McLaren-Renault 0
10 Williams-Mercedes 0

8 thoughts to “Bottas dominates Australian Grand Prix with fine victory”

  1. Australian Grand Prix race review as reported by

    As the 2019 season finally began in earnest at the Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a sensational start to his year with a dominant display in Melbourne, leading home team mate Lewis Hamilton for a Mercedes one-two ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

    Bottas finished the race over 20 seconds clear of the field, and even claimed a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race to come away from Albert Park with a full 26 points.

    Ferrari were forced to play third best in Australia, Sebastian Vettel finishing fourth for the Scuderia, one place up on his team mate Charles Leclerc, who was called off the attack on the German late in the race. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen headed off a hugely competitive and closely fought midfield in sixth, ahead of the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen in eighth.

    The seeds of Valtteri Bottas’ victory were sewn off the line in Albert Park, the Finn rocketing out of his grid slot to head Hamilton by the time they reached Turn 1. Behind, Daniel Ricciardo’s home race got off to a nightmare start, as he got launched over the grass at the pit exit as he tried to squeeze past Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and ripped his Renault’s front wing off, the resulting damage appearing to give the Australian a handling imbalance on his R.S.19.

    Down at Turns 1 and 2, Leclerc came within a whisker of blotting his Ferrari copybook early on as he attempted a move around the outside of Sebastian Vettel, nearly wiping the two scarlet cars out of the race before the end of the first lap.

    Further down the order, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz enjoyed a strong getaway from P18 to climb three positions – but having ended up in that lowly grid place after a frustrating qualifying yesterday where we was blocked by Robert Kubica, Sainz’s tough start to the year continued when his MCL34 had a fiery expiration on lap 11.

    At the front of the field, Bottas looked comfortable ahead of Hamilton, while behind, Max Verstappen was showing that there was pace in the Honda-powered Red Bull, the late-stopping Dutchman moving from fourth to third on lap 32 with a brilliant move around the outside of Turn 3 on Vettel. Both the Ferrari man and his new SF90 seemed out of sorts on race day in Melbourne, with Vettel asking his race engineer at one point ‘Why are we so slow?’

    No-one on the Ferrari pit wall seemed to have an answer, and as Verstappen got clear and went after the second-placed Hamilton – who ultimately managed to hold on until the race end, aided by Verstappen slewing off the track at Turn 1 in his hot pursuit – Vettel had to suffer the ignominy of team mate Leclerc being told to hold station behind him, the Ferraris cruising around in formation in fourth and fifth.

    Lap 30 saw Ricciardo capping off his miserable Renault debut when the team retired him with a suspected issue, while a lap before, Haas’ Romain Grosjean pulled off to the side of the track for his own retirement. The cause? Amazingly, the Frenchman’s front-left tyre appeared to have been fitted incorrectly in his pit stop, the self-same issue that forced his withdrawal from a strong points-paying position in 2018.

    With a handful of laps to go, and with around a 25-second advantage, Bottas was so comfortable that he radioed into the Mercedes pit to ask if he should pit for fresh tyres in order to try and set the fastest lap of the race to try and claim an extra point. Mercedes replied strongly in the negative, but the Finn had enough life left in his tyres to set it anyway and round out a perfect weekend, with a full 26 points to his name.

    “I don’t know what to say,” said a stunned Bottas after crossing the line to record win number four of his career, while also heading a Mercedes one-two for the first time since he last won at Abu Dhabi in 2017. “I don’t know what just happened. It was definitely my best race ever.”

    Verstappen had never run in the top three at Albert Park until today, but showed that there was front-troubling pace in his Red Bull-Honda RB15 to claim the final podium position – Honda’s first since 2008.

    But it was back to the drawing board for Ferrari after the season opener, Vettel crossing the line in fourth a full 34.5 seconds adrift of Bottas, with Leclerc tucked in obediently behind as Ferrari stuck to the Vettel-biased plan that they’d announced they’d go for early on in the season.

    Behind, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen headed what looks to be a very evenly matched ‘front’ of the midfield, the Dane in P6 to Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in P10 separated by less than 10 seconds.

    So, the spoils go to Valtteri Bottas who, after failing to score a victory in 2018, has got one under his belt with just one race down in 2019.

    Every time a driver has headed a team one-two in Melbourne, that driver has gone on to win the championship, while the team have taken the constructors’. Have we just witnessed the dawn of Valtteri Bottas as a serious championship contender?

  2. Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was left feeling stunned by his “best race ever” in F1. has the news story.

    Valtteri Bottas was left stunned by his Australian Grand Prix victory, which he called “definitely my best race ever” in Formula 1.

    Bottas dominated the season opener after getting ahead of pole-man and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on the run to the first corner at the start.

    It marks his first win since the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi, after bad luck and poor form at the end of the year left him win-less in 2018.

    Asked if he felt it was his best race in F1, Bottas said: “I think so. I don’t know just what happened.

    “I don’t know what to say. The start was really good. It was definitely my best race ever. I don’t know what happened, I just felt so good and everything was under control.

    “The car was so good today. Truly enjoyable, and I need to enjoy today.”

    Bottas also claimed the first bonus point of the season by setting the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate tour.

    It gives him 26 points, the biggest single-race haul from a driver in F1 history, and leaves him eight points clear of Hamilton atop the standings.

    “I knew it’s a new rule for this year, as I had really strong pace I wanted to go for that in the end,” said Bottas of the revived fastest-lap point.

    “It’s always risky with the worn tyres but it was worth it. [I’m] happy and can’t wait for the next race.”

    Hamilton paid tribute to his teammate’s performance after being forced to keep Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen at bay during different stages of the grand prix.

    He finished well adrift of Bottas but that was exaggerated by a forced early pitstop to cover Vettel, which put both drivers on a slower strategy than the race winner.

    “It is a good weekend for the team so I have to be happy for everyone,” said Hamilton.

    “Valtteri drove an incredible race today so deserved it. We have some work to do, [but] it is more than we could have hoped for as a team.”

    Hamilton said he had some “ideas” where his qualifying pace went but would save that for his debrief.

    He said losing the win after starting on pole was “a little bit frustrating when you have a good weekend up until that point, but I will work hard to do better next time”.

  3. Romain Grosjean says the new Formula 1 aero rules for 2019 have made it “easy to follow” other cars, if not overtake them.

    F1 had pushed through changes to the technical regulations, including simplified front and rear wings and restrictions to the bargeboards and brake ducts, in order to boost overtaking this year.

    The changes did not gather universal support from the teams, and there were widespread doubts that the measure would be effective, which Red Bull team boss Christian Horner saying the change had been an expensive “mistake”.

    After the 2019 season opener in Australia, Haas driver Grosjean said it has indeed become easier for F1 cars to follow each other – but insisted overtaking opportunities remain limited, due to the nature of the current Pirelli tyres.

    Grosjean found himself stuck behind the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, running on much older tyres, for several laps during the Melbourne race.

    “The new rules for the aero, it’s easy to follow another car, which is good,” he said.

    “But the tyres are still overheating as soon as you push, so it’s very, very difficult to overtake.

    “And if you noticed it took how many laps to pass Giovinazzi, it’s just too difficult to push on the tyre, they overheat and that’s it.

    “You lose the grip and you cannot get close enough.

    “It’s good on TV I think but the next step is to get more robust tyres to get better racing.”

    Grosjean, who retired with a loose front-left wheel when on course for a potential fourth-place finish in Australia last year, suffered another costly DNF in the 2019 Melbourne race.

    He once again had a front-left issue, the wheel coming off a few laps after a slow pitstop.

    “Deja vu,” he said. “Second year in a row, same problem. Third year in a row retiring here while I’m into the points.

    “Australia doesn’t like me. I love being here, we’ve had a good weekend all weekend long… but, yeah, shame.

    “It’s not where you want to start, it’s not easy to digest but we need to work all together, as a team we grow up and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”


  4. After finishing over 20 seconds behind his race winning team-mate, Mercedes discovers floor damage on Lewis Hamilton’s car. has the details.

    Mercedes has discovered that the floor on Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 car was damaged during the Australian Grand Prix, which could explain his lack of pace in the race.

    Hamilton was left chasing answers after the Formula 1 season opener in Melbourne as to why he could not match teammate Valtteri Bottas – who dominated after snatching the lead at the start.

    In the end, Hamilton came home more than 20 seconds adrift of his teammate, who had also taken an extra point for fastest lap.

    Speaking after the race, Hamilton said that he had some ideas about why he had struggled with his car, after not being totally happy with its balance.

    “Valtteri did an exceptional job throughout the race so congratulations to him,” said Hamilton. “After that it was just about bringing the car home.

    “I wasn’t entirely happy with the balance I had but it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a problem for me to finish second.”

    Following post-race checks, Mercedes discovered that Hamilton had suffered damage to the floor in front of the left rear tyre.

    It is unclear whether this was caused by hitting debris or running across a kerb

    The team believes that the missing chunk of floor will have exacerbated the challenges that Hamilton faced in trying to chase down Bottas.

  5. Valtteri Bottas explained his radio message “to whom it may concern” as a way to answered his critics. has the news story.

    Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas has explained the colourful radio message he gave to his critics after winning the Australian Grand Prix.

    Having been congratulated by his engineer on the cool-down lap after taking the chequered flag in Melbourne, Bottas said: “To whom it may concern, f*** you.”

    The message was interpreted as echoing the frustration he felt in the face of criticism last season after he failed to win a race while teammate Lewis Hamilton won his fifth world championship,

    Bottas insisted that the comment was made spontaneously, and that those it was aimed at will know who they are.

    “It just came, I just wanted to send my best regards,” he explained. “That’s it. Honestly, I didn’t think about it or plan it, it just came.

    “Obviously there are many people who support you, and honestly I appreciate that a lot.

    “There are always ups and downs, and you can really see the true support quite easily.

    “And then through the difficult times there’s the other part, which is a lot more negative. That’s their weakness, so it’s fine.”

    Asked if he felt criticism last year was unfair, he said: “I can’t say unfair, because everyone can say what they really want.

    “Just for whom it may concern, maybe they should look in the mirror sometimes and think actually why they do that. For me it’s OK now.”

    Pressed on who he had targeted with the comment, he said: “It would be quite a long list, unfortunately, that’s how it goes. I’m sure the people to who it was, they would know it.”

    Bottas described Australia as the best race of his career to date, and admitted that Mercedes had been faster than expected.

    “It’s really special. It’s obviously only my fourth win anyway in F1, after a winless 2018, even better. So very, very pleased.

    “But it doesn’t happen like that, there’s obviously a lot of work to be able to win, and to be able to on that kind of pace.

    “Obviously for winning you need a quick car, and as a team we’ve been able to do it. After quite difficult winter testing, here being maybe quicker than expected, made it possible. From my side I have to say it’s the best race I’ve had so far in my career.”

    Bottas agreed that the result would provide a boost to his confidence,

    “In sport and especially this sport the confidence you get from the results is massive, and it can boost you a lot.

    “Even though there will be difficult times during every season, you always remember the good ones, and you get strength from knowing that you’ll be able to do something, like today.”

  6. This was a disappointing race for Ferrari and even though Charles Leclerc had a chance to overtake his team-mate, Ferrari ordered him to back off to Sebastian Vettel. has the story.

    Ferrari told Charles Leclerc to stay behind Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix because there was “no reason” to take a risk fighting over fourth place.

    Leclerc, making his Ferrari debut, caught his four-time world champion teammate in the closing stages of the grand prix.

    He asked if he should stay behind Vettel, who was on older tyres, and was told “yes, and back off to have some margin”.

    Explaining why Vettel was struggling so much compared to Leclerc, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: “When Seb pitted, put the medium tyres on, he didn’t have the grip he was expecting.

    “And he was attacked by [Max] Verstappen, having been in the position to hold his position on track. So, we decided to bring the car home. He was managing the tyres to the end.

    “I think 10 laps to the end, we decided not to take any risks and hold positions, bring the cars home and score points.”

    In pre-season, new team boss Binotto had made it clear Vettel would be prioritised early on in the season if the situation required it, as he is Ferrari’s initial title focus.

    But Binotto said instructing their drivers to hold position in Melbourne was neither “difficult” nor a “decision” that Ferrari had to make, because it did not make sense to let them risk fighting when it was not for the win.

    “As I said, Sebastian was managing his pace because of poor grip, and bringing the car home,” he added.

    “Charles did a great second stint, [but] 10 laps to go, there was no reason to take a risk today. They were not fighting for the first position.”

    Leclerc ended up on the grass on the exit of the first corner after being accidentally squeezed by Vettel, who he had tried to pass on the outside.

    Risk-management was also the reason Ferrari opted not to pit Leclerc, who had a massive advantage over sixth-placed Kevin Magnussen, and put him on fresh tyres to push for fastest lap.

    “I think at that stage, whenever you pit it may be a risk,” said Binotto. “It was more important for us to bring the car home, score the points.

    “Sometimes races where you are not the best, it’s still important to score points.

    “That was our choice. We will review the race and eventually the decision, but it was for that reason.”

    Leclerc said he pushed for the bonus point for fastest lap anyway, on his existing tyres, but accepted that race winner and eventual fastest lap earner Valtteri Bottas was too fast.

    “We tried on the last lap but obviously [it] was not enough, by quite a bit,” said Leclerc.

    “I don’t think we wanted to take the risk to do a pitstop. There are a lot of risks with a pitstop obviously and we just wanted to finish this race clean.

    “I tried myself but it was definitely not enough and by quite a big margin.”

  7. This was a top result for Red Bull Racing and even Honda allowed Max Verstappen to “have a go” on straights. has the details.

    Max Verstappen says he could “at least have a go” at his rivals at top speed during his first Formula 1 race with Red Bull’s new engine partner Honda.

    Verstappen finished third in the Australian Grand Prix to score Honda’s first podium of the V6 turbo-hybrid era and its first F1 rostrum since Rubens Barrichello was third in the 2008 British Grand Prix.

    He caught and passed Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari during the race and pressure Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the closing stages as well.

    Asked by how encouraging that race-long performance was, Verstappen said: “In general I’m just very pleased.

    “I could at least have a go at it in terms of top speed. It’s good progress, there’s a lot of positive things coming as well.

    “Valtteri [Bottas, race winner] was very far ahead, still. It was a good result today but we still have to work hard to improve.”

    Verstappen finished 22.5s behind Bottas after running off-track while chasing Hamilton.

    His third place finish was Red Bull’s first top-three result in Melbourne since Daniel Ricciardo was second in 2014, although Ricciardo was later disqualified.

    Verstappen finished further from the race winner than Ricciardo did with Renault power in 2018, but insisted it was “a very good step forward compared to last year” after beating the Ferraris by more than half a minute.

    “If I just compared top speeds against the other two teams,” said Verstappen. “I’m very pleased with that.

    “Also, I think in general the engine has been performing very well without any issues. I guess time will tell if we can fight for top spot.”

    Verstappen said Red Bull had to turn around its fortunes after an imperfect Friday practice.

    “Trying to challenge for second was a very positive feeling, especially after my Friday,” he said.

    “We couldn’t pull it off but in general I’m very happy to be on the podium. We managed to turn it around in a very positive way after Friday.

    “And for Honda to have their first podium in the V6 era, I think it’s a great start. So, a big congrats to them.”

  8. Daniel Ricciardo has explained his curious trip onto the grass that led to his front wing being torn off by a gutter on the run to the first corner at Albert Park.

    Ricciardo’s Renault bounced awkwardly over a gutter on the run to Turn 1 after he dropped his right-hand wheels onto the grass in reaction to a slow-starting Sergio Perez.

    The impact tore the front wing off his car, immediately dashing any hopes of a decent result on home soil for the Aussie.

    Having not expected to come across a gutter capable of causing significant damage, Ricciardo chalked the incident up as bad luck.

    “I feel that was pretty unlucky,” he said. “I just put two wheels in [the grass] and the next thing there’s a massive gutter there, or gutter ditch, which I don’t feel is on many other places.”

    Despite replays indicating there could have been enough room next to Perez to avoid running off-track, Ricciardo defended his decision to use the grass.

    “Sergio’s start wasn’t great. I had a bit of a run,” he said.

    “He made a little flinch, but when it happens that quick, you see him move, so I moved, then he straightened up, and the next thing I’m on the grass.

    “But you never know how much he’s going to move. Because he was still in front at the time, you just follow his initial reaction.

    “That second one just put my wheel in the grass. When I hit the grass, I wasn’t actually too concerned. I thought I’d just drive through it and I thought I had enough momentum to stay alongside him.

    “But obviously that ditch was there, and that was it.”

    Ricciardo carried on after pitting for a new front wing, but still wound up on the DNFs list after being called into the garage by his team.

    He says he’s still not sure why the car was retired, but that his initial concern that the team was “playing it safe” has made way for worries there could be ongoing problems.

    “I still don’t know, to be honest,” he said.

    “I do believe we have a problem, I don’t think it was playing safe. I thought it was, but apparently we had some issues, so I hope it’s not greater than that.”


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