Vettel defeats Hamilton for opening 2017 victory in Australia

Sebastian Vettel secured his and Scuderia Ferrari’s first victory since 2015 in Australia on Sunday, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas completing the podium. Sebastian Vettel secured victory in the opening round of the 2017 Formula 1 season in Australia as he jumped Lewis Hamilton in the pits and never looked back thereafter for his first win since 2015.

Sebastien Vettel

For the first time in the hybrid era, Scuderia Ferrari lead the championship, with Vettel ultimately taking victory by 9.975 seconds from Hamilton, who seemed to lose the race after pitting earlier than the German.

Hamilton led away from the start but Vettel did not let him get away, and when the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver pitted on lap eighteen, the German stayed out on track. Whereas Vettel had a clear track and blue flags when it came to backmarkers, Hamilton did not have it as easy, and found himself losing time as he got stuck behind Max Verstappen, who had yet to stop his Red Bull Racing RB13 at that point.

Vettel eventually made his pit stop and came out ahead of both Verstappen and more importantly Hamilton, and was able to pull away and manage the gap thereafter.

Hamilton was forced to manage his own race as he saw team-mate Valtteri Bottas significantly close the gap towards the end of the race, but the Finn came up 1.275 seconds shy at the chequered flag, but it still meant a podium finish on his first appearance with his new team after replacing Nico Rosberg.

The fight for points

Kimi Raikkonen had a relatively quiet race in the second Ferrari, finishing 22.393 seconds behind his team-mate, with the Finn setting the fastest lap of the race as Pirelli’s new 2017 tyres enabled drivers to push throughout their stints, while Verstappen went for a different compound on his pit stop but could only manage fifth, a further 6.434 seconds back after a slow final lap.

Felipe Massa was the final driver to finish on the lead lap for Williams Martini Racing, the Brazilian making a good start to run sixth, a position he would hold until the end of the race without challenging those in front of him or being pushed from behind.

Sergio Perez secured seventh for the Sahara Force India F1 Team ahead of the two Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers, Carlos Sainz Jr ahead of Daniil Kvyat, however the latter was forced to make an additional pit stop late in the day whilst challenging Perez to have his air system on his STR12 refilled that dropped him behind his team-mate.

The second Force India of Esteban Ocon finished tenth, with the Frenchman claiming his first point in Formula 1 as a result, just ahead of Nico Hülkenberg, who could only finish eleventh for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team.

Antonio Giovinazzi ended up two laps down on his Formula 1 debut with the Sauber F1 Team following his late call up on Saturday morning to replace Pascal Wehrlein, while Stoffel Vandoorne was the final finisher for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team despite running for much of the race without his dashboard working. The positive for McLaren however will be that a full race distance was run, meaning they can work with the data to improve the car going forward.