Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the 2017 Formula One Australian Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
Ferrari took home a decisive win on Sunday at the 2017 Formula One Australian Grand Prix thanks to the efforts of star driver Sebastian Vettel. It was Ferrari’s first F1 win since 2015’s Singapore Grand Prix. It was also the Prancing Horse’s first win in Melbourne in a decade.
Vettel started the race on the front row, with Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton sitting in pole position. When the lights turned green, Hamilton pulled into the lead but with Vettel remaining close behind.
The big upset came on lap 23, when a perfectly executed pit stop for fresh tires saw Vettel rejoin the track ahead of Hamilton who admittedly was held up by some traffic. From there Vettel was able to lead comfortably and finally ended the race 9.975 seconds ahead of second-placed Hamilton.
Mercedes' new driver Valtteri Bottas remained close to the leaders throughout. He finished 11.250 seconds behind Vettel, in third.
“If we look back twelve months, the progress we have made is clear to see,” Vettel said. “We are working well as a team, having had a great winter; a winter of changes, but all for the best.”
The performance proved that Ferrari’s form throughout the winter tests was no fluke, with Vettel’s SF70H every bit as fast as its Mercedes counterpart. However, fellow Ferrari driver Kimi Räikkönen wasn’t able to keep up, and while still finishing fourth was ultimately 22.393 seconds off the pace of his teammate.
In fifth place was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen. The Dutch youngster never looked threatening to the leaders but his RB13 did show plenty of pace, enabling him to set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:27.045. Sadly for teammate and local hero Daniel Ricciardo, a crash during qualifying and then gearbox troubles saw him start the race two laps down. He was then forced to retire due to engine trouble.
After Verstappen, most drivers suffered from terrible performance. Williams’ Felipe Massa was sixth but was 83.386 seconds behind Vettel. Then it was Force India’s Sergio Perez, the two Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat, and Force India’s other driver Esteban Ocon in seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth spots, respectively. They were all a lap off the pace of the leaders.
There were few dramas further down the field, though plenty of drivers—seven in total—retired due to car trouble. The good news is that the new, extra-wide tires seem to hold up well. In fact, the leaders completed the 57 laps with only one pit stop. This means drivers in coming races will be able to focus more on fighting for position than managing tires.
Vettel now leads the 2017 Drivers’ Championship with 25 points. Hamilton is second with 18 points and Bottas third with 15. In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari leads with 37 points versus the 33 of Mercedes and 10 of Red Bull. The next race on the calendar is the Shanghai Grand Prix in a fortnight.
Hit the next page for the full results from the 2017 Formula One Australian Grand Prix.