Valtteri Bottas overtakes Lewis Hamilton on first corner to dominate Australian Grand Prix as Mercedes open new F1 season with one-two ahead of Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel
- Valtteri Bottas overtook Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the first corner to win Australian Grand Prix
- Hamilton was slow to react at lights out to allow Bottas to sneak past him and the Finn dominated the race
- Reigning champion Hamilton was left holding off the charge of Max Verstappen during the final laps
- Verstappen ultimately finished third, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel fourth and Charles Leclerc fifth
Alexander Britton, Press Association
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas pounced past Lewis Hamilton into the first corner as the Finn cantered to the chequered flag to win the Australian Grand Prix.
Bottas completed a one-two lockout of the front row for the Silver Arrows in qualifying at Melbourne’s Albert Park with Hamilton going 0.112 seconds quicker for his 84th career pole.
But it was Bottas who led into the first corner with an excellent start guiding him into first position past his team-mate, eventually finishing more than 20 seconds clear.
Valtteri Bottas overtook Mercedes team-mate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first corner and went on to dominate the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
Bottas takes the chequered flag as he completes a dominant victory in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday
Bottas celebrates making the perfect start to the new season following an outstanding drive in Melbourne on Sunday
Race winner Bottas sprays the champagne as he celebrates on the top step of the podium in Melbourne on Sunday
Bottas lifts the trophy in Melbourne alongside second-placed Lewis Hamilton (left) and Max Verstappen (right) in third
It was the perfect start to the new season for the flying Finn, who celebrates with a clenched first on the podium top step
Defending world champion Hamilton was slow off the start line and allowed Bottas to get past him to take the lead
Hamilton spent the remainder of the 58-lap race trailing team-mate Bottas with the Ferrari and Red Bull cars chasing them
‘How about that?!’ he said on the radio after taking the victory.
Bottas said: ‘I don’t know what just happened. I don’t know what to say, the start was really good.
‘The car was so good today, it was truly enjoyable. It was definitely my best race ever. I can’t wait for the next race.’
Hamilton said: ‘It’s a good weekend for the team so I have to be happy for everyone. Valtteri drove an incredible race today and truly deserved the win today.’
The Briton pitted early – lap 10 – as Bottas put the hammer down with a string of fastest laps on tyres that had carried him nearly 20 times around the 3.295-mile circuit.
It was the perfect start to the new season for Bottas, the Finn demonstrating that he won’t play second fiddle to Hamilton
Max Verstappen claimed third place on the podium behind the two Mercedes with an encouraging drive for the season ahead
Australian Grand Prix result
1 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes GP 1hr 25mins 27.325secs, 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:25:48.211, 3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:25:49.845, 4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:26:24.434, 5 Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:26:25.555, 6 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:26:54.481, 7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault at 1 lap, 8 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap, 9 Lance Stroll (Can) Racing Point at 1 lap, 10 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap, 11 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Red Bull at 1 lap, 12 Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren at 1 lap, 13 Sergio Perez (Mex) Racing Point at 1 lap, 14 Alexander Albon (Tha) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap, 15 Antonio Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo Racing at 1 lap, 16 George Russell (Gbr) Williams at 2 laps, 17 Robert Kubica (Pol) Williams at 3 laps
Not Classified: 18 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 29 laps completed, 19 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Renault 28 laps completed, 20 Carlos Sainz (Spa) McLaren 10 laps completed
Fastest Lap: Valtteri Bottas 1min 25.580secs on Lap 57
Only Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made his soft tyres last longer than the Finn as he pitted on lap 27 as the Mercedes returned to the lead.
From the halfway point, there was only ever likely to be one winner as Bottas opened up a 20-second lead over Hamilton.
The five-time world champion appeared to labour on his medium compounds, telling his team he was struggling for rear grip as Verstappen made his case for the second step on the podium.
But the Dutchman ran into the grass on turn one as he closed in on Hamilton, losing ground to the reigning champion and finishing third.
By this point, Hamilton and Verstappen had put some distance between themselves and Ferrari rivals Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, who wound up off the pace.
The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in the pit lane in Melbourne during what was a disappointing start to the season for the German
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc holds off Kevin Magnussen of HAAS F1 during the opening race of the F1 season in Australia
The cars jostle for position in the opening couple of corners in Melbourne with the Ferraris of Vettel and Leclerc in front
Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo overtakes during the first turn of the Australian Grand Prix – he would be forced to retire though
Vettel summed up the mood of his race, asking engineers ‘Why are we so slow?’ as he fell to more than half a minute behind Bottas.
The Finn took his fourth career win and the extra point for the race’s fastest lap which has been reintroduced this season.
Kevin Magnussen took sixth for Haas, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg for Renault and Kimi Raikkonen in the Alfa Romeo.
The final two points positions went to Lance Stroll for Racing Point and Daniil Kvyat for Toro Rosso.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Pierre Gasly improved from a 17th place in qualifying to 11th, while the rookie British pair of Lando Norris and George Russell finished 12th and 16th respectively.
There was to be no home joy for Daniel Ricciardo – a trip to the grass on the opening lap saw him lose his front wing and the damage proved too much as he retired on lap 28.
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