Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the first race of the season, finishing ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
WHERE THE RACE WAS WON
Three stars out of five. It was a grouchy start to the season for Lewis Hamilton, complaining even before the race began about his grip on the track. He then also took the time to whine about not being about to overtake Max Verstappen despite his team’s gentle urgings, responding: “How do you expect me to do that?” As always, the Mercedes radio reply was diplomatic and encouraging. They could do nothing to get him back past Vettel, though, so he’ll have to make the most of his latest career achievement.
PIT RADIO EXCHANGE OF THE DAY
Daniel Ricciardo, usually the sunniest of souls, didn’t have a smile to spare this weekend after his crash in qualifying and then his enforced retirement during the race. His team bore the brunt over the radio.
MOVE OF THE RACE
Valtteri Bottas’s fine driving closed the gap between him and his new team-mate Hamilton in the final stages, making it a slightly more intriguing denouement than the procession to the podium that some might have expected. The Brit was not happy to be informed of his colleague’s speed over the radio.
Limited overtaking on view. Force India’s Esteban Ocon did brilliantly five laps from the end, intersecting Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso, bursting through the middle, sparks flying, and taking tenth place.
Vettel opted to stay out when Hamilton switched to soft tyres early on – by the time the Ferrari pitted a few laps later he had built his advantage up to around 22 seconds and he came back out in the lead, to which he clung until the chequered flag.
Daniel Ricciardo. It’s a bit undignified to start two laps later than everyone else in your home race and then have to retire halfway through as his engine failed, but at least he got out on track and the Australian fans got to see their hero.
FACEPALM OF THE WEEKEND
Jolyon Palmer had a dismal weekend, culminating in him dragging his Renault around the track for half an hour complaining about the brakes locking up. His team asked him to try and continue – but there’s only so long you can do that for without the FIA getting angry.
Little star power on offer at the first race of the season – despite some familiar faces from the Aussie soaps popping in during practice sessions. There were also one or two AFL stars scattered about.
The current world champion and his family were watching, though – albeit from the comfort of their own sofa.