Australian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton second as Sebastian Vettel wins Formula One curtain raiser

Formula 1
Sebastian Vettel in action
Sebastian Vettel in action

Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix after an apparent error by Mercedes gift-wrapped victory to his rival Sebastian Vettel.

The podium

  1. Sebastian Vettel
  2. Lewis Hamitlon
  3. Kimi Raikkonen

Scroll down for full classification

In brief

Defending champion Hamilton seemed on course to cruise to the chequered flag at Melbourne's Albert Park after winning the dash to the opening bend and building up a comfortable lead over the pack.

But the curtain raiser turned on its head in the space of a frenetic few laps when Vettel leapfrogged Hamilton following the deployment of a virtual safety car after Romain Grosjean stopped on track.

Hamilton had already made his one stop for tyres, but Vettel took advantage of the VSC - in which the drivers have to run at restricted speed - to pull into the pits and emerge ahead of the Englishman.

Hamilton is still 8-15 with Sky Bet to lift the Drivers' Championship.

Full classification

Leading Positions after Race (58 Laps): 1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1hr 29mins 33.283secs, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:29:38.319, 3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:29:39.592, 4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:29:40.352, 5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 1:30:01.169, 6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:30:02.228, 7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:30:05.954, 8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1:30:07.622, 9 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1:30:08.204, 10 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 1:30:19.005, 11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:30:20.100, 12 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 1:30:33.561, 13 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber-Ferrari 1:30:49.042, 14 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 1:30:51.571, 15 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap

Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo 1min 25.945secs on Lap 54

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

Race report

Lewis Hamilton had to settle for second at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix after an apparent error by Mercedes gift-wrapped victory to his rival Sebastian Vettel.

Defending champion Hamilton seemed on course to cruise to the chequered flag at Melbourne's Albert Park after winning the dash to the opening bend and building up a comfortable lead over the pack.

But the curtain raiser turned on its head in the space of a frenetic few laps when Vettel leapfrogged Hamilton following the deployment of a virtual safety car after Romain Grosjean stopped on track.

Hamilton had already made his one stop for tyres, but Vettel took advantage of the VSC - in which the drivers have to run at restricted speed - to pull into the pits and emerge ahead of the Englishman.

Hamilton led the inquest over the team radio, in which Mercedes replied: "We thought we were safe, but there was obviously something wrong."

The suspicion here was that Mercedes should have instructed Hamilton to ensure he was closer to Vettel to cover off the possibility of a virtual safety car period.

Hamilton attempted to make his move on the Ferrari in the closing stages, but after vowing to "go for it", he locked up his tyres, ran over the grass, and lost further time from which he would not recover.

Kimi Raikkonen held off the challenge from home favourite Daniel Ricciardo to complete the podium places, while McLaren's Fernando Alonso finished fifth for McLaren. Max Verstappen was sixth for Red Bull.

On a bleak day for Mercedes, Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished only eighth after starting 15th following his qualifying crash.

The narrow confines of the temporary Albert Park circuit makes overtaking nigh on impossible and, after Hamilton roared off the start line, the 33-year-old Briton appeared certain to open the defence of his championship with a victory.

Indeed the race was passing by with relatively little incident, but a double retirement by both Haas cars changed the course of proceedings.

On lap 23, Kevin Magnussen, running in fourth, was the first to fall after the American team failed to properly fit his rear-left tyre.

Then, inexplicably, the Haas pit crew made another error only two laps later, after an identical mistake on Grosjean's car. This time it was the front-left tyre which was not on securely, and the Frenchman had to pull over on track.

His stoppage led to the deployment of the VSC, and Vettel, 11 seconds clear of Hamilton - with the Briton already having stopped - dived into the pits to take on fresh set of tyres. He exited in the lead and half-a-second clear of Hamilton.

"What just happened, guys?," a perplexed Hamilton quizzed over the radio. "Why did you not tell me Vettel was in the pits? Was that my mistake? Was I supposed to go quicker through the safety car?"

The reply from the Mercedes pit wall suggested Hamilton was not at fault.

With the inquiry still taking place, the VSC was replaced by the safety car proper as the marshals removed Grosjean's stricken car.

The safety car came in a matter of laps later, but Hamilton never troubled Vettel as the German took the opening spoils of the new campaign.

"A big congratulations to Sebastian and Ferrari," Hamilton said. "They did a better job. We will go back to the drawing board and work on it, but we have great pace.

"This is one awesome circuit but it is so hard to overtake. At the end we decided to fight another day, save the engine, and try to get the points elsewhere."

Vettel, who secured his 48th career victory, added: "We are a little bit lucky today. Lewis did a great lap and deserved pole yesterday. We got lucky today, but we will take it.

"We are not where we want to be with the car. It gives us a good start, a good win, and fresh motivation for the coming weeks."

Reaction

Hamilton said afterwards: "A big congratulations to Sebastian and Ferrari, they did a better job. We will go back to the drawing board and work on it, but we have great pace.

"This is one awesome circuit but it is so hard to overtake. At the end we decided to fight another day, save the engine, and try to get the points elsewhere."

Vettel, who secured his 48th career victory, added: "We are a little bit lucky today. Lewis did a great lap and deserved pole yesterday. We got lucky today, but we will take it.

"We are not where we want to be with the car. It gives us a good start, a good win, and fresh motivation for the coming weeks."



Standings

Drivers: 1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 25pts, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 18, 3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 15, 4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 12, 5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 10, 6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 8, 7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 6, 8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 4, 9 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 2, 10 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Renault 1, 11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 0, 12 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Force India 0, 13 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Sauber-Ferrari 0, 14 Lance Stroll (Can) Williams 0, 15 Brendon Hartley (Nzl) Scuderia Toro Rosso 0, 16 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 0, 17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 0, 18 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 0, 19 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 0, 20 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams 0

Manufacturers: 1 Ferrari 40pts, 2 Mercedes GP 22, 3 Red Bull 20, 4 McLaren 12, 5 Renault 7, 6 Force India 0, 7 Sauber-Ferrari 0, 8 Williams 0, 9 Scuderia Toro Rosso 0, 10 Haas F1 0

Related F1 links

Most Read

Might Bite jumps to victory at Aintree1

Nicky Henderson: Stable Stars

Champion trainer Nicky Henderson is looking ahead to the National Hunt season and he's outlined plans for some of his stable stars, including Might Bite.

Eric Dier, Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele (left to right): Spurs' players react after conceding v Inter Milan2

11/2 Spurs lose three in a row

Two late goals flattened Tottenham as Inter Milan came from a goal down to win their Champions League Group B opener 2-1 at the San Siro.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action3

Wednesday's racing preview

The Owen Burrows-trained Wadilsafa is the standout selection at Sandown, according to Nick Robson. He has a tip for every race.

On The Blind Side is fancies to scale the heights as a novice chaser4

Jumpers To Follow: Five for My Stable

Jumpers To Follow author Paul Ferguson provides Sporting Life readers with five horses to keep track of during the upcoming National Hunt season.

Daniel Sturridge celebrates after scoring for Liverpool in the Champions League5

Champions League Tuesday review

Liverpool steal points v PSG and Lionel Messi scores 42nd Barcelona hat-trick, all on a busy opening night of the Champions League group stages.

Most Read

Might Bite jumps to victory at Aintree1

Nicky Henderson: Stable Stars

Champion trainer Nicky Henderson is looking ahead to the National Hunt season and he's outlined plans for some of his stable stars, including Might Bite.

Eric Dier, Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele (left to right): Spurs' players react after conceding v Inter Milan2

11/2 Spurs lose three in a row

Two late goals flattened Tottenham as Inter Milan came from a goal down to win their Champions League Group B opener 2-1 at the San Siro.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action3

Wednesday's racing preview

The Owen Burrows-trained Wadilsafa is the standout selection at Sandown, according to Nick Robson. He has a tip for every race.

On The Blind Side is fancies to scale the heights as a novice chaser4

Jumpers To Follow: Five for My Stable

Jumpers To Follow author Paul Ferguson provides Sporting Life readers with five horses to keep track of during the upcoming National Hunt season.

Daniel Sturridge celebrates after scoring for Liverpool in the Champions League5

Champions League Tuesday review

Liverpool steal points v PSG and Lionel Messi scores 42nd Barcelona hat-trick, all on a busy opening night of the Champions League group stages.

Racing Tips

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action

Tuesday's racing preview

Keith Hamer picks out the best bets for Tuesday and has a tip for every race on every card.

Find out who our team are backing ahead of today's racing

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

Ben Linfoot heads to Sandown for the Sporting Life Daily Nap selection on Wednesday while he also has a couple of fancies at Yarmouth.

Check out our free horse racing selections and preview for today's action

Wednesday's racing preview

The Owen Burrows-trained Wadilsafa is the standout selection at Sandown, according to Nick Robson. He has a tip for every race.

Next Race Off
23:09 Louisiana Downs
9
(10)
Color Fashioned
J: Joel Dominguez
8
(8)
Given Grace
J: Emanuel Nieves
4
(4)
Shanghai Woman
J: Roberto Morales

Football Tips

Wednesday's Champions League tips

Wednesday's Champions League tips

Both Manchester clubs are in Champions League action on Wednesday night. Tom Carnduff looks at the best bets across Europe.

Our best bets for the latest Sky Bet EFL action

Sky Bet EFL betting preview

The Sky Bet Championship continues on Wednesday with five games in England's second tier. Tom Carnduff looks at the betting.

Our best bets for the 2018/19 Champions League

Champions League outright tips

The Champions League returns with Europe's elite battling for the trophy - Tom Carnduff picks his best outright bets.