- Feb 3, 2014
Lewis Hamilton takes his first win in Australia since 2008, but the first GP of 2015's main talking point is the amount of cars finishing the race.
Sunday began with doubts of Valtteri Bottas and whether he'd be able to start the first race of the season after complaining about a back problem post qualifying yesterday. The Finn was ruled out of racing today after being unsuccessful following a series of tests given by the FIA Medical Delegate.
Valtteri's failure to reach the grid meant that there was only 17 cars able to start. However, as we know F1 isn't that simple. Kevin Magnussen was the next casualty, as his car began smoking on an out lap as he made his way to the grid, reliability of the Honda engine in question one again. Daniil Kvyat was the next to suffer problems, as whilst he was on his way to the grid he ran into the gravel and proceeded to stop his car later on in the lap; which was because of a suspected gear box problem.
Down to 15 drivers left on the grid, it was time for the race to start in Melbourne.
The safety car was released on the first lap of the race. The culprit? Pastor Maldonado. After a collision with Nasr, who attempted to pass the Ferraris, was caught between the Lotus of Maldonado and a Ferrari, which caused the Venezuelan to spin and hit the barriers.
14 cars left.
Marcus Ericsson used the safety to pit and change tyres, he was joined my Frenchman Romain Grosjean, who unfortunately was not their to change tyres, but to retire.
13 cars left.
Safety car in after the 4th lap, and something uncommon happened. The two Mercedes automatically gained time on those behind, shocker. Brazilian Felipe Massa was still 3rd place after the restart, however new Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was closing in, starting a race long battle between the two.
Another battle grew further back in the race, between rookie Nasr, Ricciardo and Raikkonen as they battled for 5th.
Lap 14 and still 13 cars on the track. A small scare from Sergio Perez, who spun into turn 3, came after a small collision with former team mate Jenson Button after they had been battling for quite a while. A battle which could be listed as Bahrain-2013-esque.
By lap 17 the Mercedes was still as dominate as ever as Rosberg, in second place, had gained a gap of over 10 seconds to the Williams in third. Hamilton was flawless as he had a 2 second lead over his main rival, and team mate, further showing the clean and precise machine Mercedes have created.
An issue for Ferrari driver, Kimi Raikkonen, also came on lap 17 as he pitted. A problem with the left rear tyre was revealed after a pit stop lasting 8.7 seconds. Disappointment obvious from the Ferrari squad.
Rookies Carlos Sainz Jr, Felipe Nasr and Max Verstappen, were shining stars in the race at that point; all three drivers were in the top 10, battling for points around experienced drivers.
Lap 22 saw the start of the majority of pits from the drivers who started on soft tyres. Massa was the first to pit and replace his tyres with a set of mediums, gunning for a one stop race. Nico Hulkenberg was the next to join the Brazilian in the pits.
Between lap 23 and 28 the majority of the field had pitted for mediums. Carlos Sainz Jr's race was halted during his pitstop on lap 25, where he had a problem with the left real wheel gun, keeping him in the pits for far too long.
The continuing battle at the pack between Button and Perez was halted as Button pitted for a new set of boots.
Ericsson was seen to pit once again for a set of softs on the 28th lap, and it was heard over team radio that the Swede was expected to make the soft tyres last until the end, another 30 laps, when its suggested that after 25 laps the soft tyres completely drop off.
33 laps later and our next casualty arrives. Max Verstappen pitted on lap 33 for a set softs, however he began slowing down at the end of lap 34 and stopped car just before the pit lane after being told to by his team, Max had complained about smoke appearing in the cockpit. Engine problems for the Toro Rosso ended the young boys first race in F1, a race in which the 17 year old was set to gain his first points in Formula One.
12 cars left.
Lap 40 and Sergio Perez pits for his first time and puts on a set of soft tyres which saw him to the end of the race. Kimi Raikkonen was the next to pit on lap 41, and of course, we haven't enough issues in the race so fate decided to add another one.
Raikkone's pit stop was a similar problem to his first, his left rear, which was not fitted properly. Soon later after the Finn had left the pits he was told to stop the car. And another one bites the dust.
11 cars left.
The battle between Massa and Vettel was still growing strong, however Massa, now in 4th was chasing the 4 time World Champion for 3rd, with only few laps left of the race.
With 5 laps to go, and no more casualties, Nico Rosberg was 1.5 seconds behind team mate Lewis Hamilton who was making no mistakes which meant that Rosberg was not able to catch the Brit.
A battle down the track for 8th was lighting up the last three laps of the race. Marcus Ericsson was less than a second behind the the lone Toro Rosso, and one lap later the Sauber driver passed the rookie with ease, gaining 8th place and more points for Sauber, who finished with zero points in 2014.
Lewis Hamilton saw the chequered flag first, with a flawless race leading from start to end and seeing minimal threat from his main rival. Nico Rosberg finished second, and Sebastian Vettel kept the Williams of Felipe Massa behind him to capture third place. An astonishing start to the season for Ferrari, who only managed one podium last season.
Reliability was a main feature in this race, with only 17 cars starting and only 11 cars finishing. Props to Jenson Button who fought with Sergio Perez the majority of the race, but found his fight useless because of their different strategies and a poor car provided from McLaren-Honda.
The rest of the season will undoubtedly be focused on whether McLaren can improve and whether Sauber and Toro Rosso can stay as successful as they were today. The big question however will be is whether anyone can challenge Mercedes.
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