The 2018 season opener Australian GP couldn’t have panned out better for the Scuderia as they leveraged a third place start for Sebastian Vettel behind champion Lewis Hamilton into just the opposite – with Raikkonen managing to make the most of his early pace to bring in the third spot on the podium.
While the Mercedes showed the promise of being the top powered car in the battle, a combination of strategy and luck played out very well for Ferrari. A nicely thought out and executed pitstop saw them change Kimi Raikkonen’s hyper soft tyres to soft, leading Mercedes to bring in Hamilton for a similar swap. Vettel stayed out and became the leader, diving into the pits during a virtual safety car period at the end of lap 26 and managing to come out ahead of Hamilton – a position he defended on the rather constricted Melbourne circuit.
The provision of DRS on the tight circuit kept the battle going, with the challenge on till almost the last five laps, after which Vettel seemed to pull away from a pragmatic Hamilton, while Raikkonen kept his lead ahead of a charging Daniel Ricciardo.
Lewis Hamilton said, “I did everything I could today, but it’s not what anyone expected to happen. I’m still in a little bit of disbelief as I don’ t really understand what happened yet. Once I get back with my engineers they’ll do a debrief and obviously I’ll find out why. This weekend there was so much talk about party mode or if Ferrari would be quick enough. I don’t think the gap was as big as it seemed yesterday, it’s just that I had a good lap and maybe Sebastian didn’t have a good lap. But today they were very, very quick. I put up a bit of a fight towards the end but they were within a tenth of us today. At least in my heart I know that I gave everything this weekend. I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now but we will regroup and we’ll work on it.”
A victorious Sebastian Vettel said, “Today has been our day. The Safety Car helped of course, but apart from that, I think we did everything we could do as a team. So when something happened, we were ready to react. We did our job before the race, evaluating different scenarios, and then in the race we had the pace as well. Lewis was under pressure, he was fast, but not as much as he needed. As for me, I need a little bit more of confidence with the car, which is not where we want it to be yet. There is a lot of work to do, but it is great to have both cars on the podium today. Yesterday in qualifying the car came alive, but it was still a little bit tricky, so we have some homework to do. I still need to drive around the issues more than I want to. I know exactly what I want, and we need to work on it. I believe the car has the potential we need.”
2018 Formula 1 Drivers
|Car No||Name||Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||173||168|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||146||200|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||53||100|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||49||87|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||28||0|
|28||Brendan Hartley||Toro Rosso||2||0|
2018 Formula 1 Teams
|Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|Red Bull Racing||319||368|
|Force India Mercedes||43||187|
|Toro Rosso Honda||30||53|