Valtteri Bottas overtakes Lewis Hamilton on first corner to dominate Australian Grand Prix as Mercedes open new F1 season with one-two ahead of Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel
- Valtteri Bottas overtook Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the first corner to win Australian Grand Prix
- Hamilton was slow to react at lights out to allow Bottas to sneak past him and the Finn dominated the race
- Reigning champion Hamilton was left holding off the charge of Max Verstappen during the final laps
- Verstappen ultimately finished third, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel fourth and Charles Leclerc fifth
Lewis Hamilton lost the Australian Grand Prix in the first few yards when his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas passed him before going on to take the victory.
It was a commanding win for the Finn with Hamilton, who had started on pole, out of contention throughout and finishing second.
Hamilton later revealed he had damage to the floor of his car that struck on lap four and hampered him thereafter. ‘The car was very different from then on,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how it occurred.’
Valtteri Bottas overtook Mercedes team-mate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first corner and went on to dominate
Bottas takes the chequered flag as he completes a dominant victory in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday
Bottas celebrates making the perfect start to the new season following an outstanding drive in Melbourne on Sunday
Race winner Bottas sprays the champagne as he celebrates on the top step of the podium in Melbourne on Sunday
Bottas lifts the trophy in Melbourne alongside second-placed Lewis Hamilton (left) and Max Verstappen (right) in third
It was the perfect start to the new season for the flying Finn, who celebrates with a clenched first on the podium top step
Hamilton spent the remainder of the 58-lap race trailing team-mate Bottas with the Ferrari and Red Bull cars chasing them
Max Verstappen, who drove well for Red Bull, finished third, right on Hamilton’s tail by the end. The Dutchman had earlier overtaken Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, pushing the German to fourth.
It was a largely uneventful race under a blue sky in Melbourne, though the result was hugely unexpected.
Bottas did not win a race all last season and had very much looked likely to stay as de facto No 2 here when Hamilton put in a nerveless qualifying lap on Saturday to pip the Finn to first spot.
The Briton appeared to get a reasonably clean start – no wheelspin – but was helpless to prevent Bottas going into the first corner, a right-hander where he held the inside line, with the advantage. His margin by the end of the 58 laps was 20 seconds.
Only once in eight years now has the winner of this race come from pole.
It was the perfect start to the new season for Bottas, the Finn demonstrating that he won’t play second fiddle to Hamilton
Max Verstappen claimed third place on the podium behind the two Mercedes with an encouraging drive for the season ahead
AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX RESULT
1 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1hr 25mins 27.325secs, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:25:48.211, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:25:49.845, 4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:26:24.434, 5 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:26:25.555, 6 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:26:54.481, 7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault at 1 lap, 8 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap, 9 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point at 1 lap, 10 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap, 11 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull at 1 lap, 12 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren at 1 lap, 13 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point at 1 lap, 14 Alexander Albon (Tha) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap, 15 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap, 16 George Russell (Gbr) Williams at 2 laps, 17 Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams at 3 laps
Not Classified: 18 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 29 laps completed, 19 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 28 laps completed, 20 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 10 laps completed
Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas 1min 25.580secs on Lap 57
While Hamilton will be disappointed to miss out on a dream start to his title defence, comfort lay in Mercedes’ outright pace. Ferrari’s hopes of taking their pre-season testing advantage into the race evaporated through practice, qualifying and the race itself.
Vettel’s new team-mate Charles Leclerc had an unexceptional first weekend in red. He qualified fifth and finished fifth, despite an unnecessary detour off track.
Melbourne is a one-off circuit, its results often anomalous, so there is some hope of a closer encounter when the circus moves to Bahrain a fortnight hence.
The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in the pit lane in Melbourne during what was a disappointing start to the season for the German
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc holds off Kevin Magnussen of HAAS F1 during the opening race of the F1 season in Australia
The cars jostle for position in the opening couple of corners in Melbourne with the Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc in front
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo overtakes during the first turn of the Australian Grand Prix – he would be forced to retire though
Local favourite Daniel Ricciardo, on his Renault debut, went lawn mowing off the start, damaging his front wing. His car was repaired but he later retired.
A mixed day for McLaren – Carlos Sainz chugged to a halt with a bust Renault engine but Lando Norris drove well on his debut to finish 12th. The Brit showed composure and managed to pass Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi after a long and mostly patient hunt.
His compatriot George Russell also impressed, in 16th, a place ahead of Williams team-mate Robert Kubica.
Bottas scored 26 points by taking the extra point newly on offer for the fastest lap.