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Sebastian Vettel scoops surprise Australia F1 win as Hamilton's luck fails

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Sebastian Vettel scoops surprise Australia F1 win as Hamilton's luck fails
Mar 26, 2018, 3:00 AM

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari got off to a winning start in Melbourne after Lewis Hamilton was caught out by a Virtual Safety Car which came at just...

Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari got off to a winning start in Melbourne after Lewis Hamilton was caught out by a Virtual Safety Car which came at just the wrong moment for him.

The German picked up his second Australian Grand Prix win in succession. It had some similarities to last year's race in that Lewis Hamilton had led the opening stint from his record seventh Australian Grand Prix pole position.

However there were two significant differences this time. First this victory owed a lot to the intervention of the Virtual Safety Car, which was deployed after Romain Grosjean stopped his Haas F1 car in a dangerous place after his wheel had not been properly fitted at a pit stop. This fell at a moment when Hamilton had pitted, but Vettel had not and was leading the race.

Vettel took advantage to make his stop in half the time that Hamilton's had taken and this gave him the opportunity to rejoin ahead of the Englishman, who was surprised that Vettel had been within reach of him in this way.

Hamilton's own stop, on Lap 19 was a response to provocation by Ferrari who had pitted Kimi Raikkonen the lap before. Fighting two Ferraris on his own, as Valtteri Bottas was down the field after crashing heavily in qualifying, Hamilton and Mercedes chose to cover Raikkonen.

Ferrari's tactic was to run long with Vettel, in order to build a tyre offset on the second set of at least seven laps so that he would have fresher tyres at the end of the race and in case a safety car were to fall during the time he was building the offset. This is precisely what happened.

"Obviously today is fantastic, a big reward a big relief for everyone. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. The foundation has been laid a long time ago and really proud to see it coming together. This is just one race," said Vettel.

He went on to say that the performance of the Ferrari relative to the Mercedes is not as good as this time last year, which makes today's result all the sweeter.

"The car doesn’t respond the way you like and it’s still sliding in places you don’t want it to slide. I’m quite… I want the car to be spot on when I hit brakes and turn in, and in that window, I’m not yet happy, so it’s always sort-of a compromise.

Raikkonen finished on the podium for the first time in Australia since his win in 2013, narrowly beating Daniel Ricciardo, who climbed from eighth on the grid to finish fourth.

It was a good result for Ricciardo after the disappointment of dropping three places on the grid due to a driving infringement in practice, which he was very unhappy about.

His Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen also missed a podium chance by spinning early in the race when he was trying to pass the fast starting Haas of Kevin Magnussen.

The Haas mechanics were distraught when both their cars had to retire from what looked a very promising situation, both due to wheel nuts not being fitted properly at the pit stops.

"It’s almost unbelievable to have this in one race, and on two cars, while running fourth and fifth," said team principal Guenther Steiner. "It’s very disappointing. The good thing we can take away from this is that the car is competitive."

Fernando Alonso and McLaren got their new partnership with Renault off to a positive start, finishing fifth and managing to keep Max Verstappen behind to the flag.

It was a difficult weekend for Valtteri Bottas, who could only manage to rise to eighth from 15th on the grid.

What did you think of the race? Leave your comments in the section below.

AUSTRALIAN GP, Melbourne, 58 Laps

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
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