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Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari stun Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes to win 2017 F1 Australian Grand Prix
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Sebastian Vettel
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  26 Mar 2017   |  7:50 am GMT  |  871 comments

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari scored the first win of the 2017 Formula 1 season after beating Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton via a close battle in the pitlane.

Hamilton held his lead from pole position as Ferrari’s vaunted rapid getaways failed to materialise and the top four on the grid, including Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen, stayed in formation through the early laps.

Vettel stayed close to Hamilton as they began to pull away from Bottas and Raikkonen, but the British driver slowly eeked out a 1.8s advantage over the Ferrari.

2017 Australian Grand Prix

The pair traded fastest laps as Hamilton complained of a lack of grip over his team radio, but they held station for much of the first stint.

Vettel did get the gap back below one second shortly before Hamilton came in for his only stop of the race on lap 17 of the 57-lap event. The triple world champion switched to the soft Pirelli tyres but came out behind some backmarkers and Verstappen.

Ferrari opted to keep Vettel out and while he matched the times Hamilton was able to produce on his fresh rubber, the German racer was then able to go faster on his used ultra-softs as the Mercedes driver got stuck behind the Red Bull.

Max Verstappen

Hamilton complained there was “nowhere to get past” Verstappen and when Vettel pitted for his only stop of the race on lap 23 he emerged fractionally in front of the Dutchman to keep hold of the net lead of the race.

Vettel rapidly raced away from Verstappen – who pitted three laps later – and quickly established a six second lead over Hamilton.

From there Vettel continued to steadily pull away from Hamilton and finished with a 9.9s gap to claim his 43rd F1 win and Ferrari’s first victory since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.

 2017 Australian Grand Prix

Speaking after the race, Vettel said: “It’s what we needed, the whole team has been working really hard – the guys didn’t get much sleep here and back in the factory. The car has really been behaving well and it’s incredibly fun to drive as a well.

“A beautiful day. [The championship] is a long way ahead, for now we’re just over the moon and happy. It’s been a hard winter and an incredible race today.”

Bottas closed in on Hamilton and got within 1.3s at the flag to score his first podium finish for the Brackley-based squad in third place. Raikkonen held off a late-race charge from Verstappen to finish fourth and Williams’ Felipe Massa came home sixth as the last driver on the lead lap.

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez pulled off a pair of eye-catching passes on the two Toro Rosso drivers – on Daniil Kvyat on lap one and Carlos Sainz shortly after their pitstops – and he held off the advances of the latter in the closing stages to finish seventh. Sainz ended up eighth as a late stop to top up the engine air system on Kvyat’s STR12 cost the Russian driver time.

Esteban Ocon scored his first ever F1 point as he rounded out the top ten after passing McLaren’s Fernando Alonso late on with a breath-taking move at Turn 1 that also featured an attack from Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who finished 11th.

Antonio Giovinazzi, the first Italian to race in F1 since the end of the 2011 season, finished 12th for Sauber and Stoffel Vandoorne was the last classified finisher, two laps down for McLaren.

Fernando Alonso

Alonso retired shortly after being passed by Ocon complaining of his MCL32 “pulling to the left”. Kevin Magnussen, who speared into the side of Marcus Ericsson at Turn 3 on the first lap but was not punished for the incident, stopped his Haas car seven laps before the finish with a suspected suspension issue.

The other drivers who failed to make the chequered flag were Lance Stroll, who retired from his F1 debut for Williams shortly after going off the track at T13, Ericsson, Jolyon Palmer and Romain Grosjean, who was running in seventh when he came into the pits with smoke streaming out of his engine.

Daniel Ricciardo did not enjoy much luck at his home race. The Australian driver’s Red Bull was struck down with an engine sensor problem as he made his way to the grid, and although he did enter the race two laps down, an engine failure caused his retirement shortly after half distance.

Australian Grand Prix 2017 results:

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57 1h24m11.670s
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 57 +9.975s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 57 +11.250s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 57 +33.393s
5 Max Verstappen Renault 57 +28.827s
6 Felipe Massa Williams 57 +1m23.386s
7 Sergio Perez Force India 56 +1 Lap
8 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 56 +1 Lap
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 56 +1 Lap
10 Esteban Ocon Force India 56 +1 Lap
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 56 +1 Lap
12 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 55 +2 Laps
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 55 +2 Laps
Fernando Alonso McLaren 50 DNF
Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 46 DNF
Lance Stroll Williams 40 DNF
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 25 DNF
Marcus Ericsson Sauber 21 DNF
Jolyon Palmer Renault 15 DNF
Romain Grosjean Haas F1 13 DNF

What did you make of the Australian Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

2017. Fewer cameras on the track where there’s no action, and more cameras on the pit stops where all the action is going to be…

2

Forza Ferrari. Grande Seb. Bravissimi. Great win & well done. Seems the very quick pace of the Ferrari in testing is accurate , can follow another car in dirty air & it’s kinder on its tyres compared to the Mercedes. From what Hamilton said he pitted only 1 lap earlier than what the plan was as his tyres were gone. He stated the Ferrari was quicker & staying out he would’ve been overtaken anyway. Look forward to the rest of the season with closer battles.

3

This is one exciting season ahead of us!
1. A strong duel between Mercedes and Ferrari with perhaps RedBull as a close third contender.
2. Beastly fast cars means the young kids like Palmer, Magnussen, Stroll are incredibly slow compared to their respective teammates. These cars are separating the men from the boys. Just because you can hit very apex on your playstation doesn’t mean you get it with the these REAL cars.
3. no more loser tires, I absolutely hated the unrealistic degrading tires that Pirelli used to make. Let the racers race. If you can’t overtake because both of you have the same level of grip, you’re not good enough, it is as simple as that. I mean if you go to a go-kart race, would you expect degrading tires to help you??
4. Mclaren-Honda continues their comedic role. Poor Alonso… LOL!

Anyone else can think of other positives from this season?

4
Kieran Donnelly

I was playing with my phone by lap 3 and, when Vettel came out of the pits in front, I lay my head down and shut my eyes. I dozed through until the end. My ears didn’t pick up any noteworthy changes or occurrences in the commentary. In hindsight, I should have done some work in the garden while the weather was good instead of wasting my time. Shockingly boring!

5

Alright race, very happy Ferrari won!

6

The only thing good about the faster cars is the fact that these processions will be over sooner.

7

this years OZY GP was really disappointing for a number of reasons.. a) DR3 didn’t get to start on the grid, starting a lap down was devastating. b) the onscreen timing graphics was disgraceful, especially when we started with that new one showing the 200m segments, I thought this is going to be awesome and I didn’t even notice the missing main list down the side for a few minutes.. I was hoping we’d get the MotoGP style qualifying graphics with PB’s(orange) & fastest(RED) for each sector on each lap. but they screwed it all up, and that just plays on your mind the whole qualifying and race, it wrecks the whole experience. C) I know the race is on later in the day, because Europe is on the other side of the planet, but really how many people aren’t going to record the race anyway and watch it at a more suitable time for their own schedule(fast forwarding or muting the BLOODY ill-timed commercials), I will always try and watch LIVE, no matter what time it is.. MY point that i’m trying to get to is that the cars look GREAT and with HD broadcasts now the standard, we couldn’t see the cars in their full glory because of the low sun and the glare off the track and the cars too, most of the GP you struggle to see what car and driver we’re looking at, a silhouette might be ok a few times a race, but when it’s the majority of the camera angles for the majority of the race, [Mod]! as you can probably tell I was not a happy camper, but it was good to see a red car get a win for a change.

8

Well it wasn’t exactly a gripping race but it had it’s moments. I said after practice when everyone lost their minds about the prospect of another year of Merc dominance that we can’t read too much into the true pace after this race, the same applies now. It is a unique track and its the first race we will get a far more accurate picture at China and Bahrain.

Things that I do think are significant though are, Vettel looked very comfortable following Hamilton, Hamilton struggled when stuck behind Verstappen. Is the Mercedes struggling with the tyres relative to the Ferrari or did Ferrari just (sensibly) not air their concerns over the radio. Raikkonen was uncharacteristically slow given how close he was to Vettel at the tail end of last year, he will improve after he gets dialled into the car. Bottas was much stronger in the race than I thought he would be, was he playing a longer game with the tyres as he seemed to come into his own at the end of the race. Red Bull have a bit to go and the midfield battle looks like it could be a great one.

I truly hope this is finally the Hamilton vs Vettel battle that I think we have all wanted to see (regardless of who we support) for the last 10 years!

9

I enjoyed the race, though on reflection there wasn’t actually a great deal of action. Huge relief that we finally have a challenger for Mercedes. I suspect they’ll be back on top in the next couple of races though, as they’re more ‘power’ circuits than Albert Park. Vettel once again showed how difficult he is to dislodge if he can get to the front. Bottas will no doubt be pleased at being able to reel Hamilton back in again, and Lewis is right to identify the Mercedes’ apparent higher deg as a concern.

Not a great race for Red Bull. Max drove pretty well, but it was a nightmare weekend for Danny Ricc and the car looked to be off the pace and carrying a few issues. Massa looked pretty comfortable in the Williams, while Stroll looked anything but. I’m starting to think he needed at least a year in GP2 before this and Williams are going to have to nurture him very carefully going forward. I’d start by making sure he fits in the car properly.

The Toro Rosso and the Force India both looked quite racy, and Haas will be disappointed with their double DNF after displaying some decent pace. I think McLaren have to look at this as a good weekend, under the circumstances. The car wasn’t that slow and they very nearly got both of them to the finish. There’s potentially a good platform to build on, there. Bit strange for Alonso to retire with a floor issue, though. Did he hit something or was it a manufacturing defect? The floors are significantly bigger and more exposed than in previous years, so it could be either. I’d be surprised if McLaren’s fabrication processes weren’t tip top, though.

10

Positives – the cars look great, they’re exciting to watch AS CARS going full tilt around a race track, it’s nip-and-tuck between the top two teams.

Negatives – little overtaking, total lap times barely improved during race conditions (5 secs/lap my *ss), boring racing, massive spread in car performance from first to last, etc. etc.

Oh, I missed one more positive – only two more seasons to go before we all tune out because free-to-air coverage is killed off and we can all switch our allegiance to BTCC, or some other brand of racing that’s actually fun to watch from start to finish.

Sad times – I miss Formula 1.

11

Ferrari look as though they can bring the fight to Mercedes for sure, but the real test will be once we get to a more traditional race track. Lewis seemed to be struggling with grip/degradation during the race where Valtteri didn’t, so maybe a setup issue?
It seems odd to me that Bottas was steaming up to the back of Lewis in the last part of the race but once he got around 2 seconds he stopped, do we think he was told to hold station? Did Lewis have enough to cover him? If that was the case though surely Lewis would have been using that grip to try and catch Seb? Or is it the whole dirty air/can’t follow the car in front thing?
One thing is for sure, it’s going to be an exciting season now we have at least 2 competitive teams!
Where was Kimi?! Poor setup?
And we need Honda to get on top of their power issues and give McLaren the opportunity to use the vast resources they have in Alonso and Vandoorne!

12

One point I’ve not really seen mentioned is how Mercedes are inferior to Ferrari on tyre wear. There’s been comment that Mercedes lost because of bad strategy. But Hamilton said his tyres were done. It looks to me that the pressure from Vettel put Mercedes on the back foot by not allowing them to control their tyre wear so as to be able to not pit into traffic. In previous years Mercedes didn’t have this pressure.

I understand Ferrari’s strength is the rear end too. China is rear-dominated so we could see a second Ferrari win there.

13

The moment Hamilton realised he hadn’t pulled away from Vettel he starts the moaning. The moment he has to work for the race win needing to overtake Verstapen he starts moaning and saying how it’s not possible. Impressive for someone that promotes himself as the fastest driver in F1 ???

14

Humble pie time for me! Fantastic job by Ferrari, absolutely stunning. To win on merit, with Merc and Hamilton having no answer is a great achievement.

More worrying is ‘the show’. Not great if I’m honest, it was less than thrilling. Alonso was a shining light as ever, my respect for Fernando grows with every battling performance.

And as a footnote it was great to see Lance Stroll moving forwards in the early part of the race, a fine achievement given the awkward build up.

Otherwise, did anything happen? Ross? Liberty?

If F1 disappeared behind a paywall right now I wouldn’t bee too worried. Other motorsports are available.

15

I’m still not sure how Formula One passes as entertainment. The racing is non-existent.

Anyone catch MotoGP in Qatar? The racing was self-evident.

Please Brawn et al. Please, please, please.

16

How to “fix” F1 ?
Go back to 1982 spec!
Basically a “ready to explode bomb on wheels” ! Something that will put fear into the drivers.
Little wheels at the front, big ones at the back.
Front wing is just a single plane with no winglets or double layers.
A big single bucket rear wing – no winglets, no diffusers , no monkey seats.
No turning vanes. barge boards, wheel covers (whatever they’re called).
1000bhp slick tyres and a monkey behind the wheel hanging on for dear life trying to keep it on the bitumen let alone trying to save fuel or tyres or engine mileage or figuring out his next tweet.
Nuff said !!!

17

I wonder if Alonso still thinks Ferrari is not bold enough with their designing of their car. Poor judgement and calculations on his part and now he is fighting for 10th at best while his former team is as fast as Merc. He may be one of the better drivers but his jumping ship and joining other teams always backfire.

18

Was great to have you commentating on free-to-air here in Australia James

19

Do we know why there was a second warming-up lap? Trying to gain some extra time for RIC’s engineers?

20

Here is the explanation for what I know:
The start was aborted due to confusion over whether the full field was ready to start or not. In the office of Race Control they had two separate points of concerns raced just ahead of the race start time, which prompted the decision to delay the start. Try and see footage of the starting grid and you can observe the two areas of concern:

The race marshal near Daniil Kvyat’s car indicated a problem and triggered the yellow light panel while the grid was still coming up for assembly.

Race control could not see what the marshal was alerting. Race control did however notice that Perez had failed to pull into his correct starting position in tenth and had begun re-positioning his FI car.

It was in this moment of uncertainty over two separate problems on the grid that race control decided to delay the start in the interest of safety. So the field was sent around on a second formation lap.

However as all the drivers were able to pull away and continue, no driver was actually held responsible for delaying the start and therefore no one was required to start the race from the pit lane.

21

it was a really boring race, other than Perez’s overtakes on TR guys, and Ocon’s on Alonso, there was nothing interesting, not even Max was able to do a single movement… It was a train, if drivers cant do a good qualy and gain a position in the start, the only real chance to win a position is when other driver ahead of you abandon, make a strategy mistake or get involve in to an accident, damn we are going to miss Maldonado lol….

Hope Ferrari can keep the good step and RB get back soon, so we can have a little battle infront, or we are going to depend on 10-20 runners for a good show.

22

My view of the weekend is that Ferrari right now have the faster race car, by a couple of tenths. Mercedes have the “qualifying” power up that must be giving them about 50 bhp for the one lap in Q3, which equates to around half a second. As has been the case for some time, the Mercedes aero isn’t designed to follow another car. For them philosophically it’s going to be interesting to see how they handle possibly having to change their aerodynamics to suite the previously unthinkable of another car being in front of them. The Ferrari looks much more comfortable in dirty air and on race power looks to be at least equal if not have a slight advantage. The issue with Hamilton not being able to pass Verstappen I don’t believe can simply be put down to the wider cars being harder to pass. More like the Mercedes just don’t handle dirty air very well.

In regards to RedBull their chassis currently seems badly affected by the ban on levelling suspension. Adrian Newey designs typically need more rake than others and the inability to control that rake seems to be causing issues. But given time in the wind tunnel and on the simulator I suspect that, like previous iterations, RedBull will find a way to achieve the desired result. Maybe not by China, although I would expect some improvement. Looking over the responses from drivers and other team members this doesn’t appear to have been a surprise.

23

I don’t think Merc’s engine modes give them an extra 50 bhp and extra 15-20 but not 50 . If it was that much they would still be 0.6 to 0.7 of a second clear. I just think Lewis drove a brill inspired lap and to an extent outdrove his car over a single lap . Red Bull will not retrieve the deficit to the top 2 until the European season.

24

James, how concerned are you with the lack of overtakes?

25

Perez? He did it twice. If you have Lewis in mind, then he and others had problems passing Max in the past, so nothing new.

26

My 2 cents on the race:

Ferrari, especially Seb’s was genuinely a quick race car. I felt irrespective of the strategy, Seb would have won – of course there were some luck involved.

Lap – 15: both Lewis and Seb at 1:28.5
Gap to Seb 1.5 sec; to Max 18 sec
Lap – 16: Seb – purple sec 2, quicker by 0.2 sec
Lap – 17: Seb quicker by 0.35 sec in sec 1 alone; gap to Lewis less than a second. Lewis pits. Seb has 9.8 sec margin to Bottas

Next few laps were race critical.

Lap 18: Seb at 1:28.3
When Lewis got out he was still 3.8 sec behind Max
Lap 19 – Lewis out lap – he gained 0.18 sec thru sec 2 & 3; Seb 1:28.5, 21.7 sec to Lewis
Lap 20 – 0.57 sec quicker than Seb; Seb 1:28.1, 21.2 to Lewis
Lap 21 onwards – Seb was quicker than Lewis as Lewis caught up with Max. Seb 1:28.2. This was the luck part – Max not pitting and Lewis not in a position to overtake in spite of fresh tyres – track characteristics; if this was not the case, Seb would have come behind Lewis and Lewis could have controlled the pace even if Ferrari was quicker.
It was hardly 0.75 sec thru 2 laps on clean air on fresh tyres – not much at all…
Lap 22 Seb 1:28.6, 22.5 to Lewis
Lap 23 Seb 1:28.5, 23.2 sec to Lewis – required window to get ahead…
Lap 24 Seb pits

Mercedes pitted Lewis just 1 lap earlier fearing a undercut from Ferrari. Their tires were done… they didn’t expect Ferrari to stay out 7 more laps and top of it such consistent lap times. Let’s for a moment say Lewis stays out longer and Seb pits first – I doubt if Lewis could have done low 28s for 3 more laps leave alone 7; so even an under cut for Seb would have worked… in the race Bottas was too slow – if he was able to keep pace with lead group Ferrari would have been worried; they might have boxed Seb to ensure P2 is safe. I don’t see this as Merc losing this on Strategy – Seb’s Ferrari was the quicker race car.

This doesn’t mean much for the next race though – we need to see how it is in China before being confident of close competition.

James – looking forward to your strategy report to see what you think!!

27

Exactly right.
Seb was faster than Ham and this was the reason that they called Ham before Seb to pit for to eliminate possible under cut move of Seb. Anyhow in anycase Seb was closer the win than Ham.

28

I watched Q2 and said “Really – Lewis is doing his run on the tyres from Q1, so he is starting the race on tyres with less life than those round him”.
So he pitted early got stuck behind Max and that was that.

Overtaking looks worse than before: track position is usually king, and more so now than ever . Vettel looked faster but couldn’t sit close to Hamilton never mind pass. Bottas couldn’t either. Max seemed faster than Kimi but couldn’t close up

After last year where Ferrari’s bad call cost the race, it seems the boot is on the other foot .

Why was the race pace so slow ? Kimi got fastest lap with a time (1:26.5) slower than he set in first practice (1:25.4)

29

30 laps old tires might be the reason. Marc

30

Wont we promised race times 3 to 5 seconds quicker. Well Schui’s race lap record still stands.

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