Hamilton kicks off F1 title defence in style with controlled Australian GP victory

CAHt9nnU0AASy6gMercedes dominated Sunday’s 2015 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, with Lewis Hamilton winning as he pleased from team mate Nico Rosberg. Behind them, however, there was drama aplenty as just 11 cars took the chequered flag.

Sebastian Vettel finished on the podium on his Ferrari debut, with Williams’ sole starter Felipe Massa taking fourth ahead of star rookie Felipe Nasr, who gave Sauber their first points since 2013 on his F1 debut.

With Williams’ Valtteri Bottas already ruled out of the race thanks to a back injury, and Marussia having failed to qualify, the 17 expected starters became 15 before the lights went out, after McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen and Red Bull’s Daniel Kvyat both experienced car failures en route to the grid.

There would be further casualties on the first lap. Vettel made a slow start, allowing team mate Kimi Raikkonen to pull alongside heading into Turn 1. But as the German clipped the inside kerb he was pushed across the road and inadvertently forced Raikkonen wide over the outer kerb. Delayed, the Finn came under attack from Nasr, who also had Lotus’s Pastor Maldonado alongside. The trio pinched together, pitching Maldonado into the barriers. Exit another car.

As Raikkonen fell to eighth, Vettel chased after Massa’s Williams for the first half of the race. The pair’s fight swung on the first round of stops, with Vettel pitting later and emerging ahead. Though Massa would come back at him, Vettel was never truly troubled on his way to the podium.

Massa held on to fourth ahead of compatriot Nasr, who delivered a fantastic performance on his F1 debut. Not only did that make up for all the controversy of the preceding days, it also helped lift Sauber – who also scored through Marcus Ericsson in eighth – into third overall, behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo suffered the indignity of being lapped by the Mercedes right at the end, but at least took eight points for Red Bull after dropping back from challenging Nasr to finish sixth.

Force India might have lacked their 2014 pace, but Nico Hulkenberg held on for one of his trademark smooth runs to seventh, as Sergio Perez survived a collision with Jenson Button and a slow pit stop to take 10th, thus giving the team a handy seven points.

Toro Rosso were also in the points, although misfortune prevented them from scoring as strongly as their pace warranted. Sainz had looked assured in seventh until encountering delays at his first stop, and then had to be satisfied with eighth overall after being unable to resist Ericsson, shod on a set of soft tyres, in the closing stages.

Max Verstappen, meanwhile, ran very well on his F1 debut, belying his age – he became the youngest starter in F1 history – to challenge for the top six all the way until lap 42, when his STR10 started smoking and had to be retired.

Button was the final finisher after a run in which his detuned Honda engine left him prey to all and sundry whatever he did at the wheel. It was a tough afternoon for McLaren, but at least it marked the MP4-30’s first race distance, albeit one that went two laps fewer than the Mercedes.

It was a disastrous race for Lotus, as Romain Grosjean joined Maldonado in retirement on the opening lap with mechanical problems. Raikkonen was also out of luck: a delay with the left rear wheel dropped him back after his first of two planned stops, and then retired after his second stop after a problem at the same corner mean this left rear was not properly attached. Ferrari are under investigation for unsafe release.

As he foundered, Mercedes looked ominous throughout, and they duly lead both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships as a result.

In the former, Hamilton leads Rosberg with 25 points to 18, with Vettel third on 18 and Massa fourth on 12.

In the constructors’, meanwhile, the Silver Arrows already have an imposing lead: they sit on 43 points, with Ferrari and Sauber next up on 15 and 14 respectively.

Australian Grand Prix Race Results
Pos. Car # Driver Laps Behind Status Points
1 44 Lewis Hamiton 58 1:31:54.067 Running 25
2 6 Nico Roseberg 58 -1.360 Running 18
3 5 Sebastian Vettel 58 -34.523 Running 15
4 19 Felipe Massa 58 -38.196 Running 12
5 12 Felipe Nasr 58 -1:35.149 Running 10
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo 57 -1 Lap Running 8
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg 57 -1 Lap Running 6
8 9 Marcus Ericsson 57 -1 Lap Running 4
9 55 Carlos Sainz Jr 57 -1 Lap Running 2
10 11 Sergio Perez 57 -1 Lap Running 1
11 22 Jenson Button 56 -2 Laps Running 0
12 7 Kimi Raikkonen 41 Retired Wheel 0
13 33 Max Verstappen 34 Retired Engine 0
14 8 Romain Grojean 1 Retired Engine 0
15 13 Pastor Maldonado 0 Retired Accident 0
16 26 Daniil Kvyat 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
17 20 Kevin Magnussen 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
18 28 Will Stevens 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
19 77 Valtteri Bottas 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0
20 98 Roberto Merhi 0 Did Not Start Did Not Start 0

 

Drivers Championship after United States
After Race 1 of the 2015 season at Australian Grand Prix
Pos. Car # Driver Team Points Behind
1 44 L. Hamiton Mercedes 25 Leader
2 6 N. Roseberg Mercedes 18 -7
3 5 S. Vettel Ferrari 15 -10
4 19 F. Massa William-Mercedes 12 -13
5 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 10 -15
6 3 D. Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 8 -17
7 27 N. Hulkenberg Force india-Mercedes 6 -19
8 9 M. Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 4 -21
9 55 C. Sainz Jr Toro Rosso 2 -23
10 11 S. Perez Force india-Mercedes 1 -24
11 22 J. Button McLaren-Honda 0 -25
12 7 K. Raikkonen Ferrari 0 -25
13 33 M. Verstappen Toro Rosso 0 -25
14 8 R. Grojean Lotus-Mercedes 0 -25
15 13 P. Maldonado Lotus-Mercedes 0 -25
16 26 D. Kvyat Red Bull Racing-Renault 0 -25
17 20 K. Magnussen McLaren-Honda 0 -25
18 77 V. Bottas William-Mercedes 0 -25
19 28 W. Stevens Marussis-Ferrari 0 -25
20 98 R. Merhi Marussis-Ferrari 0 -25

 

Constructors Championship after United States
After Race 1 of the 2015 season at Australian Grand Prix
Pos. Team Points Behind
1 Mercedes 43 Leader
2 Ferrari 15 -28
3 Sauber-Ferrari 14 -29
4 Williams-Mercedes 12 -31
5 Red Bull Racing-Renault 8 -35
6 Force India-Mercedes 7 -36
7 Toro Rosso-Renault 2 -41
8 McLaren-Honda 0 -43
9 Lotus-Renault 0 -43
10 Marussia-Ferrari 0 -43

 

 

 

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