Australian Grand Prix 2018
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was forced to accept second place in Melbourne after an error gifted victory for Sebastien Vettel. Defending champion Hamilton seemed on course to sail to the chequered flag after winning the dash to the opening bend and building a casual lead over the pack. 25 laps in of the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were in complete control.
On Lap 19, it seemed as if the Scuderia were placing their hope for winning in Raikkonen’s favour pitting the Finn, who was running second behind Hamilton – putting strain on Mercedes.
Mercedes responded immediately, bringing in Hamilton one lap later, they extended their advantage over Kimi Raikkonen from three to five seconds.
Romain Grosjean’s Haas stopped on the track and officials imposed a virtual safety car, which restricts the pace of the cars on track. The world champion having already made his pit stop Vettel had yet to make his – Ferrari pounced on this opportunity. A pit stop made under the VSC takes 10 seconds less than one made when the cars are at full speed – Hamilton was restricted on track which allowed Sebastien Vettel to re-join the race just ahead of Mercedes.
The Brit then attempted to make his move on the Ferrari in the closing laps, but was unable to pass, before he dramatically lost pace, locking up and ran wide on turn 10 of lap 47, costing another two seconds. Mercedes now focused on maintaining second place. Overtaking is notoriously difficult at Albert Park, once Vettel made it to the front, Hamilton could pressure him but do little else.
Raikkonen found himself under heavy pressure from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo from the safety car to the end of the race but held the Australian off. Raikkonen secured a podium finish in third place, while Ricciardo was fourth after starting in eighth.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was another to benefit from the caution period. He ran 10th in the beginning part of the race but ran long like Ferrari’s Vettel and emerged fifth.
Hamilton was left confused and asked his team if he had done anything wrong, Mercedes was also unsure as to what happened.
This was Sebastien Vettel’s 100th podium win and his 48th win, but he admitted he had been quite fortunate.
WMG are very excited about 2018 Formula One – starting off amazingly in Melbourne, who knows what’s to come…