ShutF1 Editor• Joined ESPN in 2009
• An FIA accredited F1 journalist since 2011
ShutF1 Affiliate Editor• Beforehand labored in rugby union and British Superbikes
• Historical past graduate from Studying College
• Joined ESPNF1 in February 2014
MELBOURNE, Australia — We wrote Saturday that 2019 wanted to start out with somebody apart from Lewis Hamilton on the highest step of the Australian Grand Prix podium. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas duly obliged on Sunday, turning within the drive of his profession to kick off crucial yr of his profession in fashion.
However pleasure for Mercedes was a stark distinction to Ferrari’s weekend, and that is the place our round-up of the great, the dangerous and the ugly of this race should start …
Critical questions at Maranello: Primarily based on its efficiency at pre-season testing, Ferrari had the quickest automobile coming into this race weekend. However in some unspecified time in the future within the intervening two weeks, the automobile that seemed really easy to drive on the restrict in Barcelona grew to become unpredictable and simply plain sluggish. Understanding what occurred can be Ferrari’s major purpose forward of the subsequent race in Bahrain, however the workforce additionally wants to have a look at its race technique.
A podium ought to have been potential given Vettel’s clear begin to the race and the issue of overtaking at Albert Park, however Ferrari went aggressive by pitting their lead driver early in an try to undercut Hamilton. That left Vettel uncovered to Verstappen, who held off for his single pit cease by an additional 11 laps, and handed the German with more energizing rubber to take the ultimate place on the rostrum.
The curse of Albert Park: Daniel Ricciardo’s run of dangerous luck continued at his dwelling race. Driving for Renault this yr, expectations had been lowered coming into the weekend, however that would not have eased any of the frustration of retiring on Lap 31. For the primary 100 metres of his Australian Grand Prix issues had been wanting rosy as he powered alongside Sergio Perez for tenth place, however in dipping two wheels on the grass his entrance wing snagged on a drainage channel and was ripped from his automobile. He was left marooned in the back of the pack and Renault ultimately determined to retire him as a precaution.
Charles Leclerc had a go to throughout the gravel entice throughout his Ferrari debut, which was a disappointing afternoon for the workforce. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Photos
Go huge or go dwelling: If his transfer on Hamilton initially of the race did not impress you, then Bottas’ want to pit for a recent set tyres and chase the quickest lap, one thing now rewarded by an additional level for anybody additionally ending within the prime ten. The workforce talked him down from it — his 23.9s lead over Hamilton held no ensures of holding up with a botched pit cease — however the reality he was contemplating it whereas on the verge of his first win since Abu Dhabi 2017 stated so much about his new mindset for this yr. And in spite of everything that he nonetheless took the purpose with a stellar penultimate lap to unseat Max Verstappen’s effort three laps earlier.
Greatest overtake: Forward of the weekend, no person would have anticipated a Pink Bull to move a Ferrari for the ultimate podium place. However Max Verstappen has made a profession out of proving individuals incorrect and would have taken an unlimited quantity of satisfaction from beating Sebastian Vettel into Flip three on lap 31. He was helped by a 11-lap tyre benefit nevertheless it was spectacular nonetheless after he put Vettel off line in Turns 1 and a couple of with a view to full the transfer in Flip three.
“We may have seemed like rock stars …”: After the heartache of Haas’ double retirement 12 months in the past, it was arduous to look at Romain Grosjean pull to the aspect of the monitor with a unfastened entrance wheel on Lap 32.
Photos of the pit cease on lap 15 confirmed the workforce struggling to get the left-front wheel connected and clearly one thing went awry within the 17 laps that adopted. Anybody who has seen F1’s Netflix collection can think about the selection phrases coming from the mouth of workforce principal Guenther Steiner because it occurred.
Valtteri Bottas hadn’t tasted victory in System One for the reason that last race of the 2017 season. Peter Fox/Getty Photos
Driver of the day: After all of the workforce orders and missed alternatives Valtteri Bottas endured final yr, it was arduous to not get carried away by the story of redemption that performed out in Albert Park on Sunday. However that should not take something away from the drive the Finn put collectively. The transfer on Hamilton initially was essential, however his efficiency within the laps that adopted, particularly after Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had pitted for recent rubber sooner than anticipated, was massively spectacular. By the tip of the race he had a 20-second benefit over his teammate and, no matter technique, there usually are not many teammates which have crushed Hamilton so comprehensively over a race distance.
Different observations worthy of point out
Albert Park is rarely one to guage overtaking on, however the early indications are that vehicles are simpler to comply with this yr following the 2019 regulation adjustments — if that is the case, it needs to be simpler to overhaul at different circuits.
Robert Kubica was by no means more likely to end anyplace apart from one of many last two positions, however his day was made all of the tougher when his Williams misplaced a entrance wing within the opening moments after being caught up within the Ricciardo drama. Provided that Kubica waited 9 years for this race, it will need to have felt like an enormous anti-climax.
It needs to be duly famous that as Honda scored its first podium since returning to F1 on its first race with Pink Bull, its former engine associate McLaren had one automobile end out of the factors and the opposite retire with a fiery failure within the Renault.