Australian GP: Tear-off in brake duct forced early Raikkonen stop
Kimi Raikkonen says a visor tear-off stuck in his Alfa Romeo Formula 1 car’s brake duct forced a compromising early pitstop in the 2019 season opening Australian Grand Prix.
Raikkonen ran ninth in the first stint, escaping a first corner brush of wheels with Lando Norris to slot in behind the two Haas cars and Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault in the ‘class B’ battle.
The Alfa was the first car to make an ordinary pitstop in the race, on the 12th of the 58 laps, but Raikkonen said it was a compromised strategy.
"I think we had a small brake cooling [problem]," he explained. "One of the tear-offs fell in so we had to stop earlier than we wanted.
"The car had a lot of speed in my view, but it is still difficult to overtake here.
"It is easier to get closer but the last push is still tricky in this circuit."
Although the early stop was unscheduled, Raikkonen did not lose any places to the cars he had been battling with.
He ended up finishing close behind Hulkenberg in eighth place, holding off Lance Stroll’s Racing Point, Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso and out-of-position Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly in a late five-car battle.
Asked if the race was everything he had hoped for on his first outing with Alfa Romeo, Raikkonen replied: "Not all, but I think we will take it.
"I’m happy how the car felt but generally if we would have tidied up a few things we could have got more.
"But for the first weekend with the team, I will take it.
"No major fuck ups – so we take it and try to make the car faster for the next one."
Raikkonen’s team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi finished 15th.
Giovinazzi ran an extremely long first stint and held up a number of top-10 contenders who had stopped early as he lost pace on worn tyres, before rejoining well adrift of the main midfield pack when he eventually stopped.
Australian Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas dominates F1 2019 opener
Valtteri Bottas dominated the 2019-season opening Australian Grand Prix, passing Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the start to earn his first Formula 1 win since 2017.
Hamilton headed Bottas in qualifying but lost his advantage almost immediately with a slower getaway.
The champion was able to resist pressure from first Sebastian Vettel and latterly Max Verstappen to complete Mercedes’ one-two, while 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.
Bottas outdragged Hamilton into Turn 1 and was left untroubled for the entirety of the grand prix, aided by Mercedes being forced to react to an early Vettel pitstop and switch Hamilton to an inferior strategy.
Vettel stopped on lap 14 of 58, with Mercedes bringing in Hamilton one lap later to protect against the Ferrari’s fresh-tyre advantage.
Neither was able to lap as quickly on new medium tyres as Bottas on old softs, which allowed Bottas, Verstappen and Charles Leclerc to run several laps longer.
Bottas finally stopped eight laps after his team-mate and continued unimpeded throughout the race, crushing the opposition by 20.8 seconds to win for the first time since the 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi and produce the perfect response to his winless ’18 season.
The gap was flattered slightly by Hamilton having to nurse his mediums to the end to preserve second place, but the five-time world champion saw off Vettel in the middle phase of the grand prix.
Hamilton then kept Verstappen at arm’s length once the Dutchman had cleared Vettel with ease around the outside of Turn 3 on lap 31.
Verstappen hounded the Mercedes, running 1.5s behind for most of the second half of the race, before running wide at Turn 1 and bouncing over the grass.
He dropped back, continued to push and set a new fastest lap of the race in the closing stages but was unable to overhaul Hamilton.
Bottas hit back on the penultimate tour to steal the first bonus point of the season with a commanding fastest time and take his haul from the opening race to 26 points.
Ferrari’s pre-season promise translated into fourth and fifth in Melbourne as Vettel slipped further and further back, eventually only finishing just ahead of Leclerc.
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 team-mate.
Kevin Magnussen had a lonely run to sixth to earn best-of-the-rest honours for Haas and avenge the team’s horror show in Melbourne one year ago.
He shook off the race-long attention of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, who slipped back in the final part of the race and only just held on at the head of a five-car train.
Kimi Raikkonen was next up, finishing eighth on his Alfa Romeo debut, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll also scoring points on his first start for a new team – gaining ground with a very long first stint.
Returning Toro Rosso Daniil Kvyat capped his F1 comeback with a point for 10th, keeping the second Red Bull of Pierre Gasly at bay despite having gone through the gravel in a failed bid to pass Stroll earlier.
Gasly started 17th after a qualifying blunder from Red Bull and emerged from a late pitstop ahead of Kvyat, but was passed by the Russian into Turn 3 on his out-lap.
Qualifying surprise Lando Norris was unable to grab points on his F1 debut but did finish top rookie in 12th as McLaren’s pace dropped come race day. He fended off late pressure from Sergio Perez and Alex Albon.
There were three retirements: Carlos Sainz Jr the first of the new season with a fiery exit in his McLaren-Renault.
Home hero Daniel Ricciardo was next to go, a precautionary non-finisher after breaking his front wing taking to the grass on the run to the first corner.
Romain Grosjean stopped on track in his Haas after running in the points early on before slipping outside the top 10 because of a slow pitstop. Onboard camera pictures suggested his left-front wheel – which had been problematic in the stop – had come loose.
Behind 15th-placed Antonio Giovinazzi, whose very long first stint held up early stoppers and played a big part in settling the final points, the Williams were a very distant 16th and 17th.
Robert Kubica lost his front wing on Gasly at the first corner and was a lonely last on his F1 return for most of the distance once passed by fellow early-pitter Ricciardo.
|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|
|–||Carlos Sainz||McLaren/Renault||9||Power Unit|
Australian Grand Prix qualifying: Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes 1-2
Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, heading a Mercedes front-row lockout for the first race of the 2019 Formula 1 season.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas held an advantage of 0.457 seconds after the first runs in Q3, but Hamilton turned the tables with his second set of softs to post a 1m20.486s and secure pole.
Bottas failed to improve on his second run, meaning he ended up 0.112s behind as Hamilton claimed a sixth consecutive Melbourne pole.
After showing strongly in pre-season testing, the lead Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was a massive 0.704s off pole position having never shown Mercedes-threatening pace this weekend.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen split the Ferraris on his team’s debut weekend with Honda, lapping just over a tenth slower than Vettel.
That left Ferrari debutant Charles Leclerc fifth, 0.956s off the pace.
Despite lapping only 0.144s slower than team-mate Verstappen, Red Bull debutant Pierre Gasly was a high-profile victim of Q1 in 17th place.
He was one of only five drivers not to attempt a second run in the first segment in qualifying and was shuffled down amid the late flurry of improvements, describing the strategy as "a bit optimistic".
As anticipated, Haas led the midfield with Romain Grosjean taking sixth place ahead of team-mate Kevin Magnussen.
One of the stars of qualifying was debutant Lando Norris, who qualified eighth and 1.818s off the pace after a strong performance in both Q2 and Q3.
Kimi Raikkonen was ninth, just 0.010s behind Norris, on his Alfa Romeo return and Sergio Perez claimed 10th for Racing Point.
The two Renault drivers were both eliminated in Q2, with Nico Hulkenberg 11th after being pushed into the dropzone by Perez, who lapped 0.030s faster.
Hulkenberg had gone out for a second run, but aborted that effort due to what he reported as a boost pressure dropout. He had to rely on his first run, which was compromised by time lost in the final sector.
Daniel Ricciardo was 0.008s slower than Hulkenberg after being unable to make a big enough improvement on his second run to remain in the top 10, admitting he didn’t have the confidence early in the lap after traffic compromised his out-lap.
Alex Albon was the fastest of the Toro Rosso drivers in 13th place, 0.138s faster than F1 returnee team-mate Daniil Kvyat, who was 15th – the duo sandwiching the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi.
Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was quickest of those eliminated in Q1. He had momentarily jumped up to eighth after being one of the first drivers to set a time on his second set of tyres before being bumped into the dropzone by late improver Ricciardo.
Stroll complained over the radio about being impeded by another car during the session, which he identified as either a Haas or a Toro Rosso.
Carlos Sainz Jr’s first qualifying session for McLaren ended in disappointment in 18th place, just over half a tenth behind Gasly.
Unsurprisingly, the final two places were filled by the Williams drivers, with George Russell the faster of the two after lapping 1.276s slower than Sainz.
Robert Kubica, in his first F1 qualifying session since the 2010 Abu Dhabi GP, was last and 1.707s behind Russell.
He was unable to improve on his second run after kissing the wall exiting the Turn 9/10 right/left, which gave him a right-rear puncture that manifested itself at the approach to Turn 11.
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m21.320s||0.834s|
|9||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m22.314s||1.828s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m22.781s||2.295s|
|13||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m22.636s||–|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m22.714s||–|
|15||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m22.774s||–|
|16||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m23.017s||–|
|17||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1m23.020s||–|
Australian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton completes practice sweep
Lewis Hamilton completed his domination of Australian Grand Prix practice, as Mercedes maintained an advantage over Ferrari ahead of the first qualifying session of the new Formula 1 season.
After topping Friday practice and enjoying a huge advantage over the next-fastest team, Hamilton continued his good form into the third session on Saturday afternoon.
He hit the head of the times as soon as he pumped in a first flying lap and regained the advantage on the two occasions he was briefly bumped back.
The first came seconds after Valtteri Bottas had completed a second flying lap, and the next came when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel used new soft tyres to go quickest.
Hamilton’s second run on new softs yielded a 1m22.292s, enough to beat Vettel by 0.264s.
Charles Leclerc completed Ferrari’s rise from the foot of the top 10 to go third-fastest, 0.457s, but Mercedes appears to have its rival at arm’s length heading into qualifying.
The only blip for Mercedes was Bottas’s failure to set a true time on his second set of new tyres.
He ran wide exiting the penultimate corner and got sideways after touching the grass, which limited him to a 1m23.422s – only good enough for seventh.
That, combined with a surprisingly muted session from Red Bull, allowed Haas duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen to steal in and take fourth and fifth in the times.
Grosjean was 0.820s slower than Mercedes, two tenths clear of Magnussen, who in turn was a few hundredths clear of Pierre Gasly in the lead Red Bull.
Daniil Kvyat set the eighth-fastest time in the Toro Rosso, indicating the Honda engine was not the reason Red Bull was towards the foot of the top 10 as Max Verstappen ended the session ninth.
Red Bull did spend the majority of the session on the medium tyres, only taking the softs for a final sprint at the end.
Daniel Ricciardo completed the top 10, less than half a tenth clear of his Renault team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.
At the tail of the field, Williams remains detached from the midfield battle.
George Russell was the team’s quickest driver again, outpacing Robert Kubica by six tenths but lapping 3.6s off the pace and 1.4s behind McLaren’s Lando Norris in 18th.
Kubica slapped the pitwall when he ran wide entering the pitlane, scattering a small amount of debris.
He was also involved in a pitlane incident with Norris that left the McLaren driver being called to the stewards for an unsafe release. The team was fined €5000.
Practice three times
|6||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1m23.367s||1.075s||17|
|8||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m23.442s||1.150s||16|
|9||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m23.481s||1.189s||19|
|12||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m23.831s||1.539s||16|
|14||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m24.082s||1.790s||18|
|15||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m24.328s||2.036s||15|
|16||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m24.345s||2.053s||16|
|17||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m24.402s||2.110s||18|
Australian Grand Prix practice: Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two
Lewis Hamilton topped second free practice ahead of the 2019 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix for Mercedes.
Hamilton, using soft Pirellis, edged Bottas into second place by 0.048 seconds with a lap completed just after the hallway mark of the 90-minute session to secure the position.
So great was Hamilton’s pace advantage that his timesheet-topping pace on the medium-compound Pirellis in the early stages of the session was quick enough to make sure of first place.
Max Verstappen was third fastest for Red Bull-Honda, eight tenths slower than Hamilton, after opting to delay his performance run to the closing stages of the session.
Verstappen set his time with 15 minutes remaining, having spent much longer circulating on medium rubber than everyone else earlier in the session, before slotting in ahead of new team-mate Pierre Gasly by 0.042s.
Pre-season pacesetter Ferrari had a subdued session, lapping well off the pace early on using medium-compound Pirellis, with Sebastian Vettel complaining over the radio that something felt wrong in Turns 1 and 4.
Vettel later bolted on softs and put in a lap of 1m23.473s to go fifth fastest, subsequently describing the car as "still a bit wobbly" over the radio.
Alfa Romeo newcomer Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest, a tenth behind Vettel, and just ahead of the two Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo.
Charles Leclerc was down in ninth, 1.154s off the pace, in the second Ferrari, with Haas driver Romain Grosjean rounding out the top 10.
Leclerc also had a spin late in the session when he lost it on the exit kerb coming out of the Turn 4 left-hander. He was able to continue.
Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat was 11th fastest ahead of the second Haas of Kevin Magnussen, with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll 13th.
McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr also left it late to complete his performance run and was the penultimate driver to set his time.
It put him up to 14th place, just ahead of Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi – who had a spin on the entry to Turn 15 late in the session after touching the grass.
Alex Albon was 17th, one place behind the second Racing Point of Sergio Perez, and followed up his practice one crash with a run through the gravel mid-session then a similar spin to Giovinazzi’s late on.
Lando Norris was 18th in the second McLaren, 1.7s clear of the fastest of the Williams – that of rookie George Russell, who had a trip through the gravel at Turn 3 in the closing stages.
Robert Kubica was slowest, two tenths behind Russell, in another difficult session for Williams.
Practice two times
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m23.400s||0.800s||33|
|4||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1m23.442s||0.842s||31|
|6||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m23.572s||0.972s||40|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m23.933s||1.333s||36|
|13||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m24.011s||1.411s||38|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m24.293s||1.693s||37|
|16||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m24.401s||1.801s||34|
|17||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m24.675s||2.075s||40|
Australian Grand Prix practice: Lewis Hamilton leads Ferraris
Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in the opening practice session for Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but both Ferrari drivers were within a tenth of Mercedes’ world champion.
Hamilton had warned that Mercedes faced a clear deficit to Ferrari in pre-season testing, but kicked off Friday afternoon’s first running in Melbourne as if it was business as usual.
The five-time title winner set a 1m23.599s around the Albert Park circuit to head Sebastian Vettel by 0.038 seconds, with Charles Leclerc only 0.074s behind in his first grand prix session for Ferrari.
Max Verstappen gave Red Bull and Honda an encouraging start to life together by clocking the fourth-best time, 0.193s off the pace.
Mercedes spent almost all of practice one on top, as Valtteri Bottas became the first frontrunner to set a meaningful time and headed the leaderboard until Hamilton went quickest once the two switched from medium to soft tyres.
Bottas’s soft-tyre run left him 0.267s slower than Hamilton and restricted him to fifth-fastest, but it could have been worse after a near-miss down an escape road.
As he approached the penultimate corner, the Finn touched the grass on the outside and went straight on, locking up briefly and then booting the throttle to perform a neat pirouette – barely avoiding the barrier on the outside as his car swung round.
New Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly failed to make the sort of impact as team-mate Verstappen, and lapped 1.3s off the pace in eighth.
That allowed Kimi Raikkonen to hold best-of-the-rest behind the big three, giving Alfa Romeo an early boost on its first grand prix weekend as a full entrant.
Raikkonen was 1.2s off the pace, indicating the midfield group is no closer to Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull than before.
Gasly’s lack of pace in first practice meant he also ended up behind his old team, Toro Rosso, and the driver he replaced at the Red Bull junior outfit in 2017 – Daniil Kvyat.
The Russian, making his F1 comeback after a year as Ferrari development driver, set the seventh-best time and was only two hundredths of a second slower than Raikkonen.
His new team-mate Alex Albon fared less well on his grand prix weekend debut, setting a respectable 13th-fastest time but causing a red flag when he nosed his car into the barriers on the exit of Turn 1 in the final half an hour.
Haas was considered to be the midfield favourite after testing but Kevin Magnussen was only ninth-quickest, albeit only a tenth behind Raikkonen.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completed the top 10 after losing time early on to an "electronic error".
McLaren and Racing Point had a muted start to the season with its best drivers 14th (Carlos Sainz Jr for McLaren) and 15th (Lance Stroll for Racing Point) respectively.
Those teams were at least latched onto the back of the midfield group, whereas Williams was detached at the back of the field.
Robert Kubica set the team’s quickest time but was 4.3s off the pace and a full two seconds slower than the next driver, McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Formula 2 champion George Russell ended the session slowest, 0.8s behind team-mate Kubica.
It continues a troubling early 2019 for Williams, which was late to pre-season testing, has lost its chief technical officer Paddy Lowe and made changes to its car design to ensure its legality ahead of the weekend.
Practice one times
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m23.792s||0.193s||22|
|6||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m24.816s||1.217s||18|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m24.832s||1.233s||30|
|8||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull/Honda||1m24.932s||1.333s||23|
|11||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m25.166s||1.567s||23|
|13||Alexander Albon||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m25.230s||1.631s||21|
|15||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m25.288s||1.689s||26|
|16||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m25.498s||1.899s||21|
Why Ferrari’s 2018 F1 car’s front end is helping Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen’s resurgent form in Formula 1 has been helped by Ferrari’s decision not to pursue a complicated suspension set-up with its SF71H, suggests Motorsport TV’s technical analyst Craig Scarborough.
The Finn enjoyed a strong start to the season in Australia, qualifying on the front row and being Lewis Hamilton’s main challenger for much of the race before Sebastian Vettel’s pitstop strategy – made effective by a virtual safety car period – helped him jump from third to first.
Scarborough believes that Ferrari’s layout at the front of its car explains why Raikkonen’s campaign started so encouragingly in Australia.
"Ferrari, compared to any other front team, have the most conservative front suspension," said Scarborough in the latest episode of the Motorsport Show.
"Other people are playing around with the angles of the suspension with these upper arms, lifting them up for aero reasons, and for geometry reasons.
"Ferrari keep that and that gives them quite a good front end.
"And for somewhere like Melbourne that was really helping, and for a driver like Kimi Raikkonen that is really important as well, that they have that confidence in the front end.
"There are lots of factors when you make these decisions and certainly it seems to work for Ferrari."
Scarborough also suggested the suspension layout could give the team an advantage over rivals who have gone for more complicated designs.
"It is one of the trump cards for Ferrari and you wonder how that will start to play out with tyres as we go to different sorts of tracks, different temperatures and different compounds," he added.
In the same analysis, Anthony Rowlinson, Editor-in-Chief of F1 Racing, also examines the back end of the car.
"It’s interesting, I think, in the context of what Ferrari haven’t done at the front, that Sebastian Vettel to date has not found the grip he wants for the rear," said Rowlinson.
Australian Grand Prix – Kimi comments about the race
A win with two cars on the podium is a very good start of the season for the team. Maybe I have been a bit unlucky today, but at least the luck came to our team. Third place it’s not exactly the result we wanted, but it’s only the first race and the big picture is not too bad. So I happily take the third place. Overall I was pretty happy with my car today, the speed was there all day. It’s nice to have a good feeling. For sure there are things to improve, but if the feeling stays like this we’ll have all the tools to fight. And this is the most important thing. This is a quite special track in many ways, so let’s see what happens in the next race. Bahrain it’s not very straightforward either; from year to year we have seen that the hot conditions don’t give a 100 percent true picture. We need to be patient and do our best wherever we go.
Q: Kimi, my man. How was it? Sixteen times this man has raced in front of you guys. He’s an absolute legend. Up here on the podium for the first time since he won in 2013. Kimi, how was your race?
Kimi Raikkonen: I think it was OK. We didn’t have the most luck but what can you do. Luckily it was Seb that got the luck and it was our team at least. I think I had decent speed all day long and just difficult to pass. I got a good go in the second corner and then just tried to follow and see if we could do something in a pit stop. Obviously with the safety car it’s pure luck. We could hold onto third place. Got some pressure in the end, from the Red Bull with little bit more fresh tyres, but I’ll take it the third place. I think I’ve been happy with the car and it’s nice to go onto the next races.
Q: (Yianni Mavromoustakos – Talkingtorque.com.au) Firstly congratulations to Seb, now for all three drivers, how did you find the Halo in race conditions.
KR: No different than in testing or at any other point. I think it definitely doesn’t disturb at all. I think it was helpful here because the sun, when it’s coming in the right height, it’s blocking the sun in the eyes. So, I think it was only beneficial here, and it’s safer. Maybe people don’t like how it looks but y’know it might make a difference for us one day and it’s a good thing to have.
Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, it’s your best start to the season for five years. P3, it is more satisfaction or a disappointment?
KR: Obviously, you want more, always, and you want to win. I think we had decent speed all weekend and we were pretty OK in the early part of the race and then obviously, it’s just pure luck sometimes that goes your way or against you. What happened today, at least it was our team. Not ideal for me but it’s a decent start and it’s a long year so the feeling has been OK this weekend. We go for the next race and I’d rather take a third place than no points, so yeah, we always want more but I’ll take it and we go.
Q: (Luis Vasconcelos – Formula Press) Two questions for Kimi: first of all, you were quicker than Sebastian in qualifying and in the first part of the race with the ultrasoft tyres so is that satisfactory and encouraging for future races? And second, with the harder tyre, you didn’t seem to be able to hold on to them. Was the balance the difference?
KR: I think I had a chance to fight for the first place in the beginning but I was very happy with the car all weekend. Obviously there are things that we have to improve, we know that, but it wasn’t too bad and in the end of all the guys I had the older tyres so obviously with Ricciardo my aim was just to keep him behind because I followed throughout the first part of the race but it’s very difficult to overtake so it wasn’t really there. The biggest thing was to try to get in front of Lewis. I was happy to take the third place, not ideal but I was pretty happy with everything, not much to complain about but obviously the position could be a bit better.
Q: (Mikko Hyytia – Iltalehti) Kimi, how surprised were you by Sebastian’s tactics because on the radio it sounded like you were pretty surprised?
KR: Not really. The only thing I was surprised because we were talking on the radio that they didn’t let me know what he was doing. Obviously we talked before the race and there were hundreds of options what we can do and that was his best option and no threat from behind. He would obviously take a chance because he had nothing else to lose at that point, safe in third place so it would work out well. I wasn’t really surprised what they did. I was surprised that we didn’t – at one point – know exactly.
Australian Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel jumps Lewis Hamilton to win
Sebastian Vettel took advantage of a mid-race safety car to steal victory from Lewis Hamilton in the 2018 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Ferrari driver Vettel was third in the opening stint but ran longer than his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and early leader Hamilton and benefited hugely from a caution period just before he was due to pit.
Vettel managed Hamilton’s subsequent recovery attempt with ease, aided by his fellow four-time champion running off-track in pursuit, to win by 5.9s as Raikkonen completed a double Ferrari podium in third.
Hamilton kept the lead at the start and rebuffed an attack from Raikkonen at Turn 3 before settling into a comfortable lead that stood at more than three seconds, as Vettel kept a watching brief in the second Ferrari.
Kevin Magnussen’s move around the outside of Turn 1 to jump Max Verstappen gave the front three chance to break clear, and the race was descending into a procession as the first stint developed.
Verstappen’s Red Bull looked erratic behind the Haas and he complained of overheating rears, which manifested itself in dramatic fashion with a spin at Turn 1 that dropped Verstappen to eighth.
The only other movement before the pitstops was Carlos Sainz Jr running wide at Turn 9 in his Renault and allowing Fernando Alonso’s McLaren into ninth, but the race was turned on its head by the two Haas pitstops.
Magnussen pulled up at Turn 3 after his left rear wheel was not correctly fitted, and team-mate Romain Grosjean suffered a similar fate just a lap later when a problem on his front left led to the Frenchman pulling over on the left-hand side on the exit of Turn 1 immediately.
That triggered a virtual safety car, which was a blessing to Ferrari as it had used its two-against-one advantage over Mercedes to good effect, bringing in Raikkonen early so Hamilton had to stop one lap later to protect against the Ferrari’s fresh-tyre advantage.
Vettel stayed out several laps longer and, with the virtual safety car deployed, he was able to pit while the rest circulated slowly and emerge just ahead of Hamilton, turning a nine-second deficit into the race lead.
A real safety car soon replaced its virtual equivalent and the race remained neutralised until lap 32, giving Hamilton 26 laps to overhaul Vettel.
Hamilton stayed around a second behind Vettel for a lot of that time, then started a serious push with a dozen laps remaining but locked up at the Turn 9 right-hander and skated over the grass.
That dropped him back to almost three seconds behind and though he briefly got back within DRS range with five laps to go he complained of overheating rears and slipped back again.
Raikkonen kept a charging Daniel Ricciardo at bay to finish third, while Alonso – the other big winner from the mid-race safety car – claimed fifth despite immense pressure from Verstappen.
Nico Hulkenberg had a quiet run to seventh place for Renault, chasing Alonso and Verstappen late on.
Valtteri Bottas’s unspectacular recovery from 15th was boosted by the safety car and he took eighth from another beneficiary, Stoffel Vandoorne, with a nice move at Turn 3 on the restart. He then closed on Hulkenberg but was unable to pass and ended up back under pressure from Vandoorne.
The final point of the season opener went to Carlos Sainz Jr in the second Renault, who held off Sergio Perez’s Force India despite claiming he was suffering from nausea in the final third of the race.
As well as the race-changing Haas failures, three other teams lost a car over the course of the opening grand prix.
Williams rookie Sergey Sirotkin was the first retirement of the season after suffering a brake problem on lap six, while Marcus Ericsson brought his power steering-less Sauber into the pits on lap 14 and Pierre Gasly failed to finish after a Honda engine problem in his Toro Rosso.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||58||7.069s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||58||28.945s|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||58||46.817s|
|12||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||58||1m00.278s|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Honda||57||1 Lap|
|–||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||24||Wheel nut|
|–||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||22||Wheel nut|
|–||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||13||Power Unit|