|Bottas draws first blood in 2019|
Valtteri Bottas crushes everyone, including his World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton ton win the season opening Australian Grand Prix.
From second on the grid Bottas beat Hamilton to Turn 1 and from there was never challenged, ultimately opening the gap to Hamilton to 21-seconds at the finish, a crushing blow to the Brit.
Max Verstappen claimed Honda's first podium finish since the 2008 British GP in its maiden race with Red Bull as Ferrari ended up only fourth and fifth over Â½-lap behind and completely out-to-lunch.
Bottas won for the first time since the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton held off Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the middle phase of the grand prix and then kept Verstappen at bay as Verstappen hounded the Mercedes, but the Dutchman came up 1-second short.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Bottas won the first bonus point of the season with a commanding fastest time on the penultimate lap and took the full 26 points.
Vettel finished 50s behind race winner Bottas, with Leclerc – who had a trip across the gravel at Turn 1 earlier in the race – only fifth after appearing to back off once he caught his new teammate.
Kevin Magnussen had a lonely run to sixth to earn best-of-the-rest honors for Haas and avenge the team's horror show in Melbourne one year ago when both cars fell out with loose wheels after a pitstop.
Nico Hulkenberg was 7th and Kimi Raikkonen finished eighth on his Alfa Romeo debut, with Racing Point's Lance Stroll also scoring points on his first start for a new team in 9th.
Returning Toro Rosso Daniil Kvyat capped his F1 comeback with a point for 10th.
As for Hamilton's lack of pace, Mercedes has revealed that Lewis Hamilton was missing a “chunk" of the floor of his W10 during Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
“We have discovered damage to Lewis' floor at the region of the left-rear tire seal (in front of the rear tire) which will have exacerbated the challenges he had with the car balance," confirmed a Mercedes spokesperson.
“A chunk of the floor is missing, not sure how or why at this stage."
Lewis Hamilton, 2nd
|Bottas got Hamilton on the start|
"It was an incredible weekend for the team, we're leaving Melbourne with maximum points. Valtteri did an exceptional job today – congratulations to him. I had a pretty straightforward race today; I lost position at the start and my race was pretty much done and dusted after the first corner. Afterwards it was really about bringing the car home and bagging the points. I had to pit early to cover the pit stop from Ferrari, so I had a long second stint and drove super carefully to make sure I had tires left at the end of the race. I'll bag the eighteen points I got today, keep working and come back recharged for the next one. It was a really great weekend for the team and I'm really happy for everyone. We showed a great performance today and we need to continue to build on this – we have a long season ahead of us."
Valtteri Bottas, 1st
"This feels so good – I don't think I've ever had a race like this! We could not have asked for a better start to the season – getting maximum points for the team is a perfect result and we couldn't be happier. It's also an important result for me personally, I'm really pleased with how the race went. These things don't just happen – both the team and I have worked hard for this and it seems like the hard work paid off today. The key was the start; I think Lewis may have had a bit of wheel spin, so I was able to take the lead. My race pace was really strong, I could pull away and build a gap. In the end, I managed to get the fastest lap as well, which of course means an extra point this season, so I went for it. It can be a little risky with worn tires, but I had it all under control. I'm very, very pleased with today, but it's only the first race and we have another 20 races to go."
James Allison, Technical Director
|Bottas drove a perfect race|
"Days in motor racing do not come much sweeter than this. A 1-2 finish is a precious thing and to top it off with the cherry of the fastest lap point for the first time, makes it feel even nicer. I guess the main reason it feels so good is that it was unexpected. We came to Australia expecting a very tough fight against a car that had set the benchmark throughout winter testing. But we found ourselves in the happy position of being very competitive from the first time we turned a wheel – and almost spent our weekend waiting to wake up from that state of slight disbelief. However, we should have trusted what our numbers told us, because Sunday turned out almost exactly how an impressive Friday had promised, and it's a fantastic feeling for all of us to achieve this result at the first race.
"That doesn't mean we will do the same at the next race but it is a good start: it was fantastic to see Valtteri drive so flawlessly to answer some of his critics and remind everybody that he is a class act; Lewis on the other hand was punished for a poor start and had to contend with damage to the floor of his car, but nonetheless was able to drive a strong race to seal off the 1-2 finish for the team, which will see us heading to the next race with very happy spirits indeed."
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"That was a great day and an awesome drive for Valtteri – a perfect rebound after how last season finished. Over the winter, he recharged the batteries, reset, found his joy of driving again with the rally in Finland – then today it all came together for him. I can see again the young boy I first met over ten years ago and who dominated the junior series in 2008; it was a strong comeback and a really well earned win today. For Lewis, it was a harder afternoon – the start was not as good as Valtteri, then we had to pit him earlier than ideal to cover the risk of being undercut by Vettel. That gave him a long stint on the tires and none of us knew if they would make it to the end, so it was hard to judge the right pace and he wasn't happy with the car balance; my feeling is that it can be tricky to find the sweet spot with these new cars and tires, and probably we didn't manage that today with Lewis.
"Overall, though, a fantastic day for the team and a perfect result in the opening race – including the point for fastest lap. I know we have a very big supporter who is in Vienna now and not here with us in Melbourne – to you, Niki, we send all our best wishes and we hope you're happy with this one. But this feeling will only last as long as we stay at the circuit; when the plane takes off for home, our eyes will turn to Bahrain. We know that Ferrari have the speed to fight back, so we won't be jumping to any conclusions after just one race. We have a long season ahead full of twists and turns and challenges; we're looking forward to the fight."
|Ferrari stunk up the joint|
Sebastian Vettel 4th
“We were not happy with the car the whole weekend but today we struggled a lot. The reason I was so slow in the race was mostly due to the fact that the car could not find enough grip with the medium tires that we fitted at the pit stop. As a team, we still got a decent amount of points from our fourth and fifth places, but this is not the result we were aiming for just a few weeks ago. So in the coming days, we will analyze the data in detail so as to be ready for the next race, which is not far away now. I’m sure that looking at all the information we have gathered here will give us a better understanding, but today, the result we got was the best we could do."
Charles Leclerc 5th
“I made a good start, to the extent that I managed to pass Verstappen and found myself alongside Sebastian, who was fighting a Mercedes. That meant I had to put my wheels on the grass at the exit of the first esses, which allowed Max to get in front of me again. At the start, the car was not so easy to drive and that led to me making a small mistake at the first corner, which cost me a handful of seconds. We decided to fit the hard tires at the pit stop and, I have to say, that from then on, the car improved a lot and I was able to push. Towards the end, I closed on Sebastian, but the team decided to keep our positions, given that the top three places were not within our grasp today. Now, we will work with the engineers to try and understand why we were not as strong as we had hoped to be, even though we brought home a good points haul."
|It's quite clear Binotto has taken Ferrari down a notch or two from where Arrivabene had the team|
Mattia Binotto Team Principal
“Right from Friday, we didn’t feel comfortable at this track. Even though we did a lot of work on set-up, we didn’t find the right balance and even our qualifying performance demonstrated that we were struggling to adapt to the Albert Park track. Then, in the race, in the first stint, we tried to keep up. Charles made a slight mistake, which meant he could not stay with the leaders. After his pit stop, Seb’s car never found the right grip level on the Medium tires and so the driver was unable to attack those ahead of him. When he could no longer fend off Verstappen, we decided the most important thing was to get to the end, managing the tires. When Charles caught up to him, it seemed wise not to take any risks. We leave Australia with a lot of data to analyze and we will use that to work out how to get back to our actual level of competitiveness for the race in Bahrain in two weeks time".
Max Verstappen, 3rd
“I am very happy for the Team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today. Since we started working together it has been amazing and I am really enjoying the partnership, so this is a well-deserved third place for all of us. To be able to challenge Lewis at the end of the race and overtake Seb on-track, which around here is very difficult, is very positive. We had a little advantage with the tires but it was satisfying to pressure Lewis even though I couldn’t get quite close enough to overtake him. The car was working really well and we also look strong on the straights which is hopefully a good sign for the rest of the season. I heard this is the first podium for Honda since 2008 so I am very happy that I managed to achieve this for them today."
Pierre Gasly, 11th
|Verstappen pushed Hamilton hard at the end for second|
“It was a pretty difficult race. With the new bigger rear wings, I couldn’t see the lights on the grid so I had to react with the cars around me and I lost a couple of places. Then I got stuck in traffic and even with the DRS, it’s super difficult to overtake here plus I had some debris in my front wing which didn’t help. I spent the whole race five tenths from the car in front but my tires were just sliding and I couldn’t get past. I pushed as much as I could and I tried everything but it wasn’t enough to make it into the points. In general, the pace over the weekend was really good. In qualifying, we got knocked out of Q1 but I was happy with my first lap and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t make it through. Bahrain is a race I really like and we’ve seen the car is competitive so we’ll keep our heads down, stay focused and give a big push in two weeks’ time."
Christian Horner, Team Principal
“A fantastic start to the season with a podium finish at our first Grand Prix with our new power unit partner Honda, who haven’t finished in the top three since 2008. Max put in a remarkable performance today, and after a decent start and one of the day’s fastest pit stops, he was able to take advantage of the C3 tire and make a great pass on Sebastian. He went on to put Lewis under pressure for the rest of the race, but didn’t get quite close enough. Pierre battled his way from P17 to finish just outside of the points, but at this track it’s notoriously hard to overtake. He drove the wheels off the car and it’s a shame that it wasn’t rewarded with a point. He raced hard and I’m sure his time will come. After a promising season opener, we now look ahead to Bahrain."
Nico Hulkenberg, 7th
“It’s a good start to the season with some solid points on the board. It was a tricky race – especially the final 10 laps – I was under pressure and really had to fight to hang onto seventh place. I’m pleased to pull that off. The start and the first lap made our race; it’s so crucial to have track position around here and from there it was about managing the car and the tires. We can be pleased with today, it’s a positive result, but it also shows we have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to dig deep and continue finding performance especially to improve the car balance."
Daniel Ricciardo, DNF
“I’m gutted, that’s for sure. I made a good start, managed to get a good run on Perez and then moved to the side. I put a wheel on the grass, which didn’t concern me, and then a massive bump caught me by surprise. It’s unlucky more than anything and, unfortunately, that was our race run there and then. It all happened very quickly and it was a shame we finished like that. Nico showed in the race that the car belongs in the top eight and we’ll be aiming for a smoother weekend in Bahrain and a strong result."
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal
“We’re leaving Australia with mixed feelings and a contrast of positive and negatives. The main negative was Qualifying, where we had a number of issues that impacted our potential and starting position. That made Daniel’s first race complex and we tried to recover positions at the start but we ultimately had to retire his car due to the damage. Nico managed to turn around the situation and had a very strong race. He was very smart and drove a good race to finish seventh. We know the car has much more pace than we have shown, especially in Qualifying, and it will be the priority of the next race to extract more from the initial platform with a smoother execution across the weekend while we work on our planned upgrades."
Romain Grosjean, DNF
“I don’t know what happened exactly yet. It just felt wrong. It’s not been a good day. Before all that I was happy and up behind Kevin (Magnussen). The new rules are great for following another car, but the tires are still what they were last year, as you push, you slide, then you lose grip. Even though we can follow easier than in the past, overtaking is still complicated. Overall, today’s a shame as we’ve looked strong all weekend long, we were strong in the race as well."
Kevin Magnussen, 6th
“I’m very happy about today, it was a good result. I’m obviously sad for team not to have both cars get to the finish. Surely Romain (Grosjean) would have been in a good position as well, especially after we both had such good qualifying yesterday, so I’m gutted for his side that they didn’t get anything out of today. P6 for me is very good, I’m happy with the day. I made a good start and had a really good car from there. I was able to push the whole race and look after my tires. I’m really happy to start the year like this."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Mixed emotions today. Deja-vu from last year on Romain’s (Grosjean) car it looks like, a pit stop gone wrong. Last year, after Australia, we went 20 races – the rest of the season, without another pit stop issue. We’re a little bit unlucky here, we’ll have to investigate what happened, it’s too early to say right now. On the other side, Kevin (Magnussen) finishing sixth is a great achievement for the team. We know the car is strong. This year we take eight points away from Melbourne, last year we were last going away from Australia. It’s better than 2018. I think with this car we can be strong in all the remaining 20 races."
Sergio Perez, 13th
“I’m disappointed to come away from Melbourne missing out on points. It was quite a difficult race for me from lap one because I made a poor start and lost a couple of places before turn one. Overtaking was extremely difficult, so we tried the undercut with the strategy but it didn’t really work out for us. After my pit stop I was stuck in traffic for the rest of the race. I was able to get ahead of Albon, when he made a mistake, but apart from that it was difficult to really show our pace."
Lance Stroll, 9th
“I am really pleased with my race today – it has been a great day at the office. It’s really nice to pick up some points on the first weekend of the season, but it wasn’t easy. It was a really challenging afternoon, chasing Hulkenberg and Raikkonen ahead of me while also keeping Kvyat and Gasly behind me for most of the race. I was under a lot of pressure and it was very tight, but I am glad we managed to pick up two points. We were always planning to go long with our strategy: we were starting out of position so we knew the key was to make a good start and gain some places in the opening stages, which we did. After that, we had good pace and managed to hold off the cars behind us on softer tires than ours. We saw today that it’s going to be really close in the middle of the grid, but we are definitely in the fight."
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“I’m delighted to see Lance score points in his first race with us. It was a very mature drive and he thoroughly deserves this result. Scoring points is a great way to start the season after the huge effort back at base and trackside over the last few months. It’s a shame Sergio’s strategy didn’t’ work out because we had a chance to get both cars in the points today. We saw, once again, that overtaking is extremely difficult around Albert Park and getting stuck in traffic after his early stop proved very costly. We take away lots of positives from this weekend and have learned a huge amount from all the testing we did in the lead up to the race. Now we switch focus to Bahrain and a very different track. We will keep pushing, keep developing and we hope to take a step forward and get both cars in the top ten in a couple of weeks’ time."
Carlos Sainz, DNF
“It’s been a weekend to forget. I think we lost the MGU-K, which was a shame as the race was going well. I’d put yesterday behind me and I was feeling positive going into today. I’d done everything I wanted to do: I made a good start, overtaking four cars, getting in the fight for the points and starting to attack the cars in front. The car felt good, we had strong pace and I was fighting with other cars that ended up in the points today, which shows us that points could have been possible.
“This one hurts, but this is Formula 1. My season has started with a really unlucky weekend but hopefully we can start having more positive results from Bahrain onwards. I’m happy to put this one behind me and keep pushing."
Lando Norris, 12th
“The team gave me a good car, with enough pace for me to be in the top 10 but I made a couple of mistakes which cost me any chance of scoring points, so I’m a little disappointed. But it’s cool to finish my first [F1] race and get it out of the way.
“I didn’t make the perfect start, struggled to get ahead of a slower car and then had a big lock-up so I need to work on these mistakes. I’m annoyed with myself as there was more potential. Now I focus and look forward to Bahrain."
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director
“Overall, I must admit that, although there were several positives to draw from this weekend in general, we come away from the Australian Grand Prix a little disappointed. Carlos had a good start, but unfortunately had to retire with an early mechanical failure. On Lando’s side, the race was going well early on, until he was held up in traffic for some laps, which sealed his result outside the points. On the positive side, I’m pleased that Lando was able to put up a fighting performance in his début grand prix and see the checkered flag.
“As predicted, it’s clear that several teams are in a tight battle, including ourselves, so any small improvements in our pace and execution can have a significant impact on our ranking. So, head down, and onwards to Bahrain."
Kimi Raikkonen, 8th
“Our car was pretty strong in the race, but then we got stuck behind cars and there is not much you can do. It seems that it is easier to get closer to the car in front of you but it’s still very hard to overtake. In addition, we had an issue with the temperature of the rear brakes as one of the tear-offs from the visor went in and that’s why we had to pit earlier than planned. But as I said, the car has a lot of speed and it felt good, so I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain."
Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th
“It was a tough race. I picked up some damage to my car on lap 1 and after that it was challenging to stay up to speed. There were some battles and I did my best to defend my position. It was only the first race of the season, so I look forward to fighting for a stronger result in Bahrain."
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal
“For the first race of the season, it was an ok race. We had some small issues which we could not have anticipated and both drivers put up a good fight. We are returning home with 4 points, which is a positive. To start the season with one car in the top 10 is a good achievement and we will push hard to score some more points at the next Grand Prix in Bahrain."
Daniil Kvyat, 10th
“It was an excellent race today! I’m happy with the way I drove and it was really enjoyable. There was a lot of positives to come from the race – it’s just a shame about yesterday’s qualifying as we had the opportunity to start a bit further ahead! We had good tire management throughout the race and we definitely had the pace to fight for higher positions but, as we know, it’s difficult to overtake around Albert Park. I tried to catch Stroll, but I was a bit on the edge and I couldn’t make it. I had a good battle with Pierre towards the end of the race, I felt like I could fight him well and at the end it was satisfying to keep a quicker car behind almost the whole race. I know we have a good package with the car and the engine, so we need to keep developing it. I’m very optimistic for the next few races and I think it’s possible to achieve good results."
Alex Albon, 14th
“Mixed feelings today! It was my first experience of a race weekend and I didn’t really know what to expect. The race started off very well, I dropped the clutch and thought ‘great, that was okay!’ I made up two positions straight away and at that time we were in the mix, as I was already one position away from the points. That was pretty much as good as it got for me, though. We were in a battle with Giovinazzi, I think he was struggling with his tires and everyone on that strategy lost out. All of the guys who stayed out on the harder compound behind overcut us. That compromised our race but I’m still happy with how my weekend went. I think we could have had points so that stings a little, but it was a good experience and I came away with a clean weekend, relatively speaking!"
Jody Egginton, Deputy Technical Director
“In terms of pace, the race was very positive for Dany with the prime to base strategy, allowing him to extend his first stint. He then put some very strong times in the second stint to be able to take home one hard-earned point. Alex faced a few more challenges, having to manage brakes in traffic early on. However, he has put in a solid performance in his first F1 race and he learnt a lot, which I am sure he will put to good use in Bahrain. In summary, on one hand we leave Melbourne positive as our new car has shown some good performance. On the other hand, we have not executed the best possible qualifying or race, which is a bit frustrating as there was more on offer. We now switch our focus to final preparations for the next race in Bahrain, the plan being to build on the positive signs shown here."
Franz Tost, Team Principal
“We’re always happy to come to Melbourne, not only because it’s the first race of the season, but It’s a special race with an extraordinary atmosphere and a lot of great fans!
“First of all, I would like to congratulate Honda for finishing on the podium with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, which is certainly a big success for them and they deserved such a result. As for our race, we started 13th and 15th and we decided to go for a different strategy for our drivers: Alex started on the option tire, while Daniil started on the prime. This turned out to be the right decision, because it gave us the possibility to be flexible with our strategy. Daniil drove a fantastic race, bringing home a point – we must not forget he’s been out of the cockpit for a year and a half, so to come back and fight successfully into the top 10 is a good sign for the rest of the season. Alex did a great job too, because this was his first race in F1 and it’s not an easy circuit around here. Nevertheless, he didn’t make any mistake and learned a lot throughout the weekend. After the first race weekend, we feel we have a strong package, so I’m optimistic for the next races."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“Scuderia Toro Rosso did well this weekend, with Daniil getting the point for tenth place. It was a strong comeback from him after a year away from the sport. It’s clear the STR14 car has good potential. Overall, it was a positive start. I therefore thank all the staff who work on our F1 project in Japan and the UK, knowing they will be working hard to help us improve. In two weeks we race in Bahrain, which was a very strong weekend for the team last year."
Robert Kubica, 17th
"It definitely wasn’t an easy race and we knew that before the start. We opted to start on the hard tire to get experience on them but, I got a good start for those tires. In turn one, I was on the inside and on the exit of the corner one of the Red Bull’s moved right to avoid another contact and we touched, damaging my front wing so I had to come in to box. Additionally, on lap three, I lost one of my mirrors, so the blue flags weren’t easy. I was not in the best shape with some damage but, I know it sounds strange and I thought I would never say something like this, although it was very difficult I think there were some positives. I want to thank again everyone in the team."
George Russell, 16th
“I feel happy that I brought the car home with no dramas. I physically feel fine and it was a good first race from my side but obviously it is disappointing that we are so far behind the pace. We did an additional pitstop to try all three compounds of the tires, so that is unfortunately where we are at the moment. We have got a lot of work to do tomorrow to understand and hopefully improve from there. I am not interested in fighting Robert for last, we need to work together to make this right. Overall, I can be proud and pleased with myself because we went into this weekend knowing what to expect and I achieved pretty much all of my goals."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
“It was a tough day as you would expect but it was an achievement to bring two cars home. Robert had an unfortunate first lap, but once we got him back out with a new front wing he was able to settle down and he drove a good race on his comeback. It was George’s Formula One debut and he has had a solid weekend all round and now has his first race under his belt. This should give both drivers some confidence moving forward. The pitstops the team carried out today were very good as always, and operationally the team did a good job with what we have at the moment."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
“All three compounds stood up well to the particular demands of Albert Park and they were all used extensively. We saw an interesting variation in strategy, with drivers using different tires for different stint lengths, and – for those further down the grid – alternative strategies to make their way up the field. Our aim this year was to provide compounds that enabled drivers to push from start to finish of every stint. The fact that Bottas set the fastest race lap of Albert Park right at the end of the grand prix, in a close fight for the extra point with Verstappen, highlights how this objective has been achieved."
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||58||22.520s|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||57||1 Lap|
|8||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||57||1 Lap|
|9||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||57||1 Lap|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||57||1 Lap|
|11||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||57||1 Lap|
|12||Lando Norris||McLaren/Renault||57||1 Lap|
|13||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||57||1 Lap|
|14||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||57||1 Lap|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||57||1 Lap|
|16||George Russell||Williams/Mercedes||56||2 Laps|
|17||Robert Kubica||Williams/Mercedes||55||3 Laps|
|DNF||Carlos Sainz||McLaren/Renault||9||Power Unit|