Australian GP: Vettel beats Hamilton to Melbourne win

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Australian GP: Vettel beats Hamilton to Melbourne win
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Mar 26, 2017, 6:31 AM

Sebastian Vettel defeated Lewis Hamilton in a fascinating Australian Grand Prix to kick off Formula 1’s new era with a superb victory for Ferrari.

Start: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG leads
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Start: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Felipe Massa, Williams FW40
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Winner Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Marshalls push away the car of Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, leads Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H and Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-17, retires from the race in the pits
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL32, leaves the pits after an early tyre change.
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17 locks up under braking
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H, leaves the pits
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, leads Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Lance Stroll, Williams, retires from the race in the pit lane
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF70H
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32, Esteban Ocon, Force India VJM10
Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team VF-17
An aerial view of the start

The German driver jumped poleman Hamilton in the pitstops then comfortably led home the Mercedes driver, who just kept new teammate Valtteri Bottas at arm’s length in 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 Briton 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.

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

Vettel then bolted, extended his lead to almost 10 seconds before Hamilton made inroads late on – then back to 9.9s behind at the flag.

Bottas caught his teammate after a disappointing first stint left him a dozen seconds in arrears, but ended up settling for a third a second behind.

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

The Red Bull driver was running supersofts to Raikkonen’s softs in the second stint, and caught the Finn at a rapid rate in the final third of the grand prix.

Verstappen’s charge included a brief hold on fastest lap, but Raikkonen rallied and consolidated the spot by taking fastest lap from Bottas on the penultimate tour.

The midfield duel

Felipe Massa earned best-of-the-rest honours for Williams in comfortable fashion with sixth place, 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 Jr before the halfway mark with a fine round-the-outside move at Turn 3.

Kvyat ran extremely long on ultrasoft tyres in the first stint but lost out to teammate Sainz after a surprise second stop late on.

The Russian finished ninth ahead of Esteban Ocon, who earned a point on his Force India debut after catching and passing Fernando Alonso late on.

Alonso lost 10th to Ocon into Turn 1 and then 11th to Nico Hulkenberg as the Renault made it three-wide on the main straight, then retired his McLaren-Honda with a handling problem.

Attrition rate high

The Spaniard 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 teammate Kevin Magnussen made it a double retirement for Haas in the closing stages after hitting Marcus Ericsson's Sauber on the opening lap.

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 14th in the early stages but suffered a braking problem in his Renault – also failed to finish.

Race results:

PosDriverCarTime/Gap
1 germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari 1:24'11.670
2 united_kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes 9.975
3 finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes 11.250
4 finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari 22.393
5 netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull 28.827
6 brazil Felipe Massa  Williams 1'23.386
7 mexico Sergio Perez  Force India 1 lap
8 spain Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso 1 lap
9 russia Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso 1 lap
10 france Esteban Ocon  Force India 1 lap
11 germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault 1 lap
12 italy Antonio Giovinazzi  Sauber 2 laps
13 belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren 2 laps
Ret spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren  
Ret  denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas  
Ret  canada Lance Stroll  Williams  
Ret  australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull  
Ret  sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber  
Ret  united_kingdom Jolyon Palmer  Renault  
Ret  france Romain Grosjean  Haas  
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Australian GP
Sub-event Sunday race
Location Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit
Author Scott Mitchell
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