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Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes dominate Australian Grand Prix

20 March 2019 - Autoblog

Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes dominate Australian Grand Prix

'It was definitely my best race ever'

Valtteri Bottas capitalized on a late pitstop to upset his world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton and clinch the season-opening Australian Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday with the "best race" of his life.

Starting second behind pole-sitter Hamilton, Bottas got the jump on the Briton during a typically messy start at Albert Park and ended up cruising to his fourth win by some 20.80 seconds after delaying a tire-change. Runner-up Hamilton, who switched to the medium compound tires seven laps earlier than Bottas, had to battle to hold off third-placed Max Verstappen and was fortunate the Red Bull driver took a late skid in the grass to lose vital seconds.

Bottas claimed his first race win since Abu Dhabi in 2017 and added icing to the cake by securing a bonus point for the fastest lap at the lakeside circuit in one minute 25.580 seconds.

"I don't know what just happened. The start was really good, it was definitely my best race ever," said the overwhelmed Finn.

"I just felt so good and everything was under control. The car was so good today so truly enjoyable, I need to enjoy today.

"I'm just so happy and can't wait for the next race."

Hamilton complained mid-race on the team radio about his early pitstop and said he was worried his tires would not last.

But he was magnanimous about the result and his team will have been thrilled that their raw pace was enough to blitz the chasing pack.

"It was a good weekend for the team," said Hamilton.

"Valtteri drove an incredible race today so he deserved it.

"I've just got work on my starts more."

For Ferrari, however, it was a sobering day as fourth-placed Vettel and fifth-placed new boy Charles Leclerc were reduced to fighting each other for a minor position. The Scuderia had posted the fastest times during winter testing -- just pipping Mercedes -- but both cars finished nearly a minute behind Bottas.

Four-times champion Vettel held the podium spot for most of the race but ended up easily picked off by Verstappen as Red Bull celebrated a positive debut with Honda engines.

"I had to overtake Seb to get onto the podium which is not easy here but I was happy to pull that move off," said the Dutchman, who secured Honda a first podium in the V6 turbo hybrid era.

In the midfield battle, Kevin Magnussen was sixth for Haas ahead of Renault's seventh-placed Nico Hulkenberg.

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen was eighth in his debut for Alfa Romeo, the team formerly known as Sauber, while ninth-placed Lance Stroll and 10th-placed Daniil Kvyat grabbed the remaining points for Racing Point F1 and Toro Rosso respectively.

It was a terrible Renault debut for home hope Daniel Ricciardo as he rolled wide into the grass straight out of the grid and destroyed his front wing over a bump.

He was forced to pit immediately to replace it and ended up back in the garage midway through the race, his third retirement in his home race.

McLaren driver Carlos Sainz also retired after easing into pit lane on the 11th lap with his car on fire.

Haas, who lost both cars due to botched tire changes in last year's race, showed they were not free of their pit-stop gremlins, as a poor stop caused Romain Grosjean to lose two places. The Frenchman was later forced to retire with a reliability problem.

In his first Formula One race in more than eight years, Williams driver Robert Kubica was last of the 17 cars that finished, one behind rookie teammate George Russell.

McLaren's Lando Norris was the best of the F1 debutants, finishing 12th.

Prior to the start, drivers and officials stood for a minute's silence at the grid in tribute to the late F1 racing director Charlie Whiting and in remembrance of victims of a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand on Friday. 

FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2019 - RACE RESULT

       
177Valtteri BottasMERCEDES581:25:27.32526
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES58+20.886s18
333Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA58+22.520s15
45Sebastian VettelFERRARI58+57.109s12
516Charles LeclercFERRARI58+58.230s10
620Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI58+87.156s8
727Nico HulkenbergRENAULT57+1 lap6
87Kimi RäikkönenALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI57+1 lap4
918Lance StrollRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES57+1 lap2
1026Daniil KvyatSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA57+1 lap1
1110Pierre GaslyRED BULL RACING HONDA57+1 lap0
124Lando NorrisMCLAREN RENAULT57+1 lap0
1311Sergio PerezRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES57+1 lap0
1423Alexander AlbonSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA57+1 lap0
1599Antonio GiovinazziALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI57+1 lap0
1663George RussellWILLIAMS MERCEDES56+2 laps0
1788Robert KubicaWILLIAMS MERCEDES55+3 laps0
NC8Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI29DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRENAULT28DNF0
NC55Carlos SainzMCLAREN RENAULT9DNF0


Note - Bottas scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

2019 Driver Standings

     
1Valtteri BottasFINMERCEDES26
2Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES18
3Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING HONDA15
4Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI12
5Charles LeclercMONFERRARI10
6Kevin MagnussenDENHAAS FERRARI8
7Nico HulkenbergGERRENAULT6
8Kimi RäikkönenFINALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI4
9Lance StrollCANRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES2
10Daniil KvyatRUSSCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1
11Pierre GaslyFRARED BULL RACING HONDA0
12Lando NorrisGBRMCLAREN RENAULT0
13Sergio PerezMEXRACING POINT BWT MERCEDES0
14Alexander AlbonTHASCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA0
15Antonio GiovinazziITAALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI0
16George RussellGBRWILLIAMS MERCEDES0
17Robert KubicaPOLWILLIAMS MERCEDES0

2019 Constructor Standings

1MERCEDES44
2FERRARI22
3RED BULL RACING HONDA15
4HAAS FERRARI8
5RENAULT6
6ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI4
7RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES2
8SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA1
9MCLAREN RENAULT0
10WILLIAMS MERCEDES0

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