Sebastian Vettel won the opening round of the Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, Australia. The prancing horse beat favorites and 2016 world champions Mercedes to the line, with Lewis Hamilton finishing second and team-mate Valterri Bottas following in third place.
Ferrari showed good form in the pre-season tests, often setting the pace. However, between the different compounds of tires and fuel loads, it was anyone’s guess who held the advantage going into the first round of the season. Ferrari’s unusual silence on their prospects added to the fan frenzy.
During the practice sessions, Mercedes held the upper hand, as Ferrari struggled with set up and the lower than usual track temperature. Qualifying showed the ultimate pace of the Mercedes over a single lap with Lewis Hamilton comfortably taking pole position. It was all down to race pace on Sunday.
The new rules for this year saw aggressive looking cars with wider tires. Unfortunately, this meant that overtaking became harder than it already was. Even with DRS system to enhance overtaking, the nature of the Melbourne circuit along with the new aerodynamic meant that track position took on additional importance.
Ultimately, Ferrari was easier on its tires then Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton came out behind Max Verstappens Red Bull after his pitstop. Hamilton was unable to overtake the Red Bull, giving Vettel a chance to build a gap big enough to come ahead. Once Vettel came out ahead, he was able to pull out a 10 second gap on his way to victory.
The next round is in China.