Sebastian Vettel has won the Australian GP 2017, the first win for Ferrari since Singapore 2015. The German has finally ended a long dry spell thanks to a critical first stop which was not only well timed but it also changed the course of the entire race for the team. Hamilton made the first stop but failed to capitalize on it in time, the Brit was stuck in fifth behind Verstappen for quite some time, Vettel managed to stop and emerge ahead of the Mercedes. At that point, the race took a new direction in favor of Ferrari.

Bottas could not be happier, he won a podium in his first race for Mercedes. He did admit “the reds were too fast.”

Australian GP 2017 Results

1. Vettel – Ferrari
2. Hamilton – Mercedes
3. Bottas – Mercedes
4. Raikkonen – Ferrari
5. Verstappen – Red Bull
6. Massa – Williams
7. Perez – Force India
8. Sainz – Toro Rosso
9. Kvyat – Toro Rosso
10. Ocon – Force India

Hamilton started from P1 and held it after the first lap, his lead had grown to 1.1s over Vettel by the end of lap 5. As if his weekend was not bad already after crashing out in qualifying, Ricciardo suffered a sensor issue and had to start from the pits, he emerged two laps later. Romain Grosjean’s clutch was also failing to engage. The race had two formation laps, the first one was aborted after some drivers parked in the wrong spots on the grid.

On lap 6, Hamilton set a new fastest lap on 1m28.379s, the top ten were all on ultrasoft tires. Vettel lay in second, some 1.8s behind Hamilton followed by Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Massa, Grosjean, Sainz, Perez and Kvyat. In the meantime, Vettel responded to Hamilton by setting an even faster lap on with a 1m28.234s.

Vandoorne became the first driver to pit, he switched into softs but the McLaren was also suffering from loss of power. There was a brief yellow flags moment after Palmer ran off due to a braking issue. While that was happening, Antonio Giovinazzi, the man who was sitting in for Wehrlein continued to show his prowess and was currently in 14th, behind Ocon and ahead of Lance Stroll.

Vettel was slowly eating into Hamilton’s lead, shrinking it to 1.5s by lap 15. Alonso managed to jump into P10 after Grosjean retired his Haas, there was smoke pouring out of the rear as the Frenchman limped to the pits. That was bad luck for Haas, they enjoyed a great deal of qualifying yesterday.

Hamilton pitted from the lead on lap 17, switched into soft Pirelli tires and rejoined in fifth just behind Verstappen. Vettel now led the race away from Bottas and Raikkonen. Perez, Alonso and Hulkenberg all dived into the pits too, the Force India man rejoined in ninth place on softs. Hamilton meanwhile was lapping quicker than everyone else, he set a new fastest lap on 1m27.551s.

Photos by Steven Tee, Andy Hone, Sam Bloxham, Glenn Dunbar.

And Palmer also retired too.

Verstappen was not giving in to Hamilton’s rush, the gap between the two had increased, and more importantly, Vettel had a 22s lead over the Brit.

“This is race critical, we need to get past Verstappen,” Hamilton was told. And he was quick to answer, “I don’t know how you expect me to do that, there’s no way I can pass this guy.”

Vettel stopped on lap 24 and it was a good one as the Ferrari emerged ahead of Hamilton. He rejoined in P3 just ahead of Verstappen who was now struggling with rear tires. Yellow flags were shown again this time due to Ericsson’s Sauber which parked on the track with a technical issue.

Bottas pitted on lap 25, switched into softs followed by Verstappen who switched into super softs. Raikkonen also pitted from the lead and emerged on softs ahead of Verstappen. Yellow flags flew after Ricciardo’s car stopped on the track with an engine failure, the race was over for the Aussie.

Vettel led the race away from Hamilton, with a significant gap of over 6s, Bottas was third followed by Raikkonen, Verstappen, Kvyat, Massa, Perez, Sainz and Alonso. In the meantime, Rosberg seemed to be lowkey excited with how things were turning out.

The gap between Vettel and Hamilton had grown to 7.2s, and traffic was not helping it either. Merc was initially under plan B but the tires were holding up, they switched to plan A. By lap 43, the gap had grown to 10s. Verstappen meanwhile managed to set the fastest lap of race with a 1m27.045s.

Stroll became the next man to retire after his car ran too deep into the gravel on turn 13. At the same time, Hamilton complained of power drops “in and out”, the Brit had managed to chip away Vettel’s time bringing the gap down to 7.2s.

Vettel was less than 8 laps away from giving Ferrari their first F1 win since Singapore 2015. Mercedes won all but 2 races in 2016, with the two wins going to Red Bull. Magnussen also retired his car with suspension issues ending a frustrating weekend for Haas F1. Amidst all that, Vettel still managed to set a new fastest lap on 1m26.638s.

Alonso became the 7th retirement from the Australian GP 2017, it appeared to be a suspension issue. Bottas and Raikkonen were exchanging fastest lap times, with the Ferrari man emerging on top on 1m26.538s.

Vettel went ahead to win the Australian GP 2017 after dominating the entire race since that critical first stop.

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