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