I previously mentioned how the 2018 winter testing could have been mistaken for what happened in 2017, and likewise the 2018 Australian Grand Prix has a few moments of déjà vu as well. Hamilton being stick behind Vettel despite having a quicker car is exactly what happened in last year’s race.
Safety Car Caused Havoc
The reason for that was how Vettel and Ferrari took advantage of the Virtual Safety Car that was put in place following the retirement of a Haas. Hamilton was therefore speed limited due to the yellow flags and the German look advantage by pitting early and coming out ahead of the restricted Mercedes.
It isn’t exactly how you want races to be won, and Ferrari were given a huge slice of luck, they used that good luck and made a smart decision at the perfect time. Hamilton kept putting in record laps, but it wasn’t enough and a few errors meant that he couldn’t keep the pressure on.
Pit-Lane Nightmare for Haas
The Virtual Safety Car came out due to the retirement of Romain Grosjean’s Haas, which was an embarrassing and confusing moment for the team. Both he and Magnussen were looking great out on the track before they ended up having to go into the pit lane, and both came out with tires not correctly bolted on to the vehicle. Whatever the issue was, it was a great shame for the team and the sport as they were looking so good. It was a weekend where gun control was a hot topic in the USA, and there was a certain irony that gun control was the problem for the team from America.
The Honda/Renault battle might have been of some interest this year, but it looks like a non-contest, it was a terrible race for the Honda-powered Torro Rosso. Reliability was the one area that they looked to improve on, but the sight of Pierre Gasly’s car retiring due to engine failure was a sad sight. While Brendon Hartley managed to finish the race, he was the slowest of all the cars that stayed out on track.
A Good Day for McLaren
McLaren switched away from Honda engines this season, and did very well in the race and it was great to see Alonso sitting in 5th place, with Vandoorne sitting in 9th. Bottas need to have a great race after his qualifying crash, and didn’t, ending up in 8th. Force India seem to have relinquished their grip on being the best of the rest, and it could be a much worse season for them after ending up in 11th and 12th.
Mercedes Still Have The Speed
While Mercedes didn’t get the race weekend that their car could have delivered, they will still be extremely confident about the rest of the season. Their car looked fast and quite clearly was ahead of the rest. Hamilton easily increased his advantage before the safety cars caused havoc and only didn’t overtake Vettel due to the difficulties at Albert Park.
Ferrari got lucky, and you feel they’ll have to remain so if they want more race wins. It was a great weekend for them but they know they have an almighty fight on their hands if they want a Driver’s or Constructor’s title at the end of the season.