Thursday, 18 April, 2019

F1 2019: What we learned from Australian Grand Prix

Race winner Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Mercedes GP celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit Valtteri Bottas took the finest victory of his career in the Australian Grand Prix Credit Getty Images
Cassandra Castillo | 20 March, 2019, 09:26

"They ignored me. All of them!"

Bottas' win and bonus point means he is leading the world championship. The Finn then dominated the race and deservedly took the chequered flag but Hamilton revealed afterwards he had lost downforce after sustaining damage to the floor of his vehicle on lap four.

Valtteri Bottas hit back at his critics on the track with a dominant win at the Australian Grand Prix - and had strong words for his doubters as well.

Sure, he's only one Grand Prix into the season, he concedes, but it was a big one.

"I had no way of knowing it was the floor", Hamilton added. That appears likely to be the easiest way to gain a fastest lap at that stage of the race, although it puts a driver's lead over another auto at the mercy of a slow or botched pit stop or a mistake as the new tyres get up to temperature early on.

"A little bit frustrating when you have a good weekend up to then", the five-time world champion said.

Ferrari opted against taking that risk with new signing Charles Leclerc, who had a significant advantage over sixth-placed Kevin Magnussen in the closing laps.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finished in fourth and fifth, with Vettel nearly a full minute down on Bottas, and the German was also overtaken for third place by Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

Some other talking points from the weekend: While he's been great in qualifying in Australia - winning pole position six straight years and eight overall - Hamilton has finished in second place in his last four races at Albert Park since winning the 2015 GP.

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"I guess we were just slow", Vettel said after the race. "I'm very happy and he deserves it".

Vettel said: "He'll put a lot of pressure on me the whole season".

Asked why they had asked Leclerc to hold position in the closing laps, Binotto said: "I don't think it was really a decision - it was not a hard one". Leclerc was bound to finish in fifth place either way given the fact that he was not allowed to pass Vettel.

Verstappen was challenging Hamilton in the later laps and finished less than two seconds behind.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas' performance in the Australian reminded him of the young driver that dominated in junior categories a decade ago.

"It was one race", said the German driver.

"Today in the morning meeting, when we talked about strategy, I forbid to go for fastest lap if we were running one, two or three", Wolff said.

Whiting died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne on the eve of the season-opener, and his presence and influence will be widely missed as the sport's worldwide governing body tries to find a permanent replacement.

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