Australian GP: Bottas dominates as rivals struggle

Valterri Bottas put in a dominating performance to win the Australian GP, after taking the lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton at the start, to take his first win in 22 races.

From second place on the grid, Bottas was able to get alongside pole-sitter Hamilton and pass him into the first corner despite starting on the ‘dirty side’.

From then onwards the Finn was untouchable, escaping DRS range in the first tour before quickly gapping the pack behind as the teams approached the pitstops.

Sebastian Vettel in third place hit pit lane on lap 14, forcing Mercedes to respond by pitting Hamilton.

The duo, however, struggled for pace on the medium tyres allowing those around them to elongate their first stint.

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Vettel was unhappy with his car, and a alternate strategy left him off the podium. Image: Scuderia Ferrari (via twitter)

Eight laps later and Bottas made his only stop, switching to the medium tyre, and emerged from the pitlane clear of any challenger.

The Finn would extend the gap, crossing the line 20.8s ahead of Hamilton, to take his first win since 2017.

Max Verstappen was able to fight both Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, both nursing their tyres towards the latter stages of the race.

The Red Bull driver secured Honda’s first podium since the British GP in 2008.

Ferrari failed to translate the pre-season promise, as a unhappy Vettel took fourth ahead of Charles Leclerc in fifth.

The Ferrari debutant asked the team whether he should hold position as he cruised up to the back of Vettel with a handful of laps to go. He had the pace to pass his four-time champion teammate.

Kevin Magnussen overturned the unfortnate events of last years race to finish in sixth place and ‘best of the rest.

The Dane was chased by Nico Hulkenberg for much of the race, the Renault driver slowed in the final 20 laps and was lucky to hold on to position.

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Magnussen impressed again in Melbourne. Image: Haas F1 (via Twitter)

Kimi Raikkonen finished eighth for Alfa Romeo, as Lance Stroll climbed seven places to score on his debut for Racing Point.

Returning Russian, Daniil Kyvat, put in an impressive performance to keep Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly out of the points.

After a difficult qualifying session the Frenchman emerged from his stop in the points positions, but was passed by the Toro Rosso driver by turn three of his outlap.

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Kyvat drove well on his F1 return, holding off Gasly in the closing laps. Image: Toro Rosso (via twitter)

Lando Norris put in a stunning performance on Saturday to start eighth, however he was unable to exploit new tyres after rejoining the race behind the Sauber of Anotnio Giovanazzi.

The McLaren driver finished 12th, and best of the rookies.

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Norris finished 12th, best of the rookies but dissappointed after his stunning debut qualifying. Image: McLaren (via twitter)

Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean, and home hero Daniel Ricciardo were the only retirements.

Sainz stopped with an engine issue early on, before Grosjean was forced to stop because of a suspension failure.

Attempting to make up positions off the line Ricciardo moved to the right-hand side of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, and clipped a raised patch of grass. The front-wing was duely ripped of the front of the Renault, and the Australian was skillful in avoiding a massive collision at the first corner.

Ricciardo then retired later in the race.

Bottas suitably answered his critics with a sensational performance to move on from his winless 2018 season. The Finn also claimed the fastest lap, meaning he is the first driver to score more than 25pts on two occasions, having scored 30pts in the 2014 double-points finale.

 

Header Image: Mercedes AMG F1 (Via Twitter)

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