"Australian F1 Grand Prix"
Sebastian Vettel returned to winning ways in Formula 1 as he stormed to his first win at the Australian Grand Prix since 2011 ahead of the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
A strategical masterclass from Ferrari which saw Vettel stay out six laps longer than Hamilton, who had led the race up until lap 18, came out ahead and maintained the lead over the Mercedes driver.
Hamilton was unable to pull away from Vettel during the opening stint of the race as the German stayed within DRS distance. The Brit got stuck behind Max Verstappen and subsequently lost the lead of the race.
Bottas secured the final spot on the podium. The Finn was consistently half a second off Vettel and Hamilton’s times on the ultra-soft but in the second stint, the former Williams man was the fastest driver who was on the soft tyres.
New cars, new tyres and new regulations meant there were a number of question marks going into today’s grand prix.
The start was relatively uneventful with the top 10 making it through. Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson collided into Turn 3 on the opening lap leaving the former with a puncture.
The action was limited throughout proceedings at Albert Park with the main focus on the battle between Hamilton and Vettel.
Once the first round of pit stops were out-of-the-way, Vettel led Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen and a charging Verstappen, who opted for the super-soft tyres in a bid to close down the second Ferrari.
The main battle in the final segment was the fight for seventh between Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, who did an enormous first stint on the ultra-soft tyres.
Toro Rosso deployed team orders to allow Kvyat to have a go at Perez but the Russian was unable to pass and later pitted as he required air in his engine pneumatic system.
The final fight of the day saw both Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg pass Fernando Alonso, who was suffering from a mechanical issue, for 10th and 11th respectively.
Vettel’s 43 career win takes him to the top of the drivers’ championship for the first time since 2013 while Ferrari takes the lead of the constructors’ championship.
Hamilton and Bottas join Vettel on the podium while both Raikkonen and Verstappen enjoyed uneventful races to fourth and fifth respectively.
Felipe Massa finished a solid sixth and was never under any threat from the teams behind. Perez, Sainz, Kvyat and Ocon round out the points paying positions.
Hulkenberg was unable to pass Ocon in the latter stages and missed out on points on his debut for Renault. Antonio Giovinazzi was 12th ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who was the last car to be classified.
Romain Grosjean retired from a comfortable seventh in what appeared to be an engine issue.
Home-hero Daniel Ricciardo also failed to make the chequered flag but his race was over before it had even started after stopping on his way to the grid.