Formula 1

Rosberg Wins Australian GP

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg lead home a Mercedes 1-2 at the dramatic season opener for F1 2016 in Australia.

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg lead home a Mercedes 1-2 at the dramatic season opener for F1 2016 in Australia.

The German capitalised on the red flag period, as a result of Alsonso’s horrific crash, to leapfrog early race leader Sebastian Vettel. Vettel made a storming start off the line to overtake both Mercedes going down into the first corner, following an aborted start to clear the stranded Red Bull of Dannil Kvyat. After pitting before the red flag, Vettel tried a strategy gamble and stayed on the super soft tyres for his mid stint, but ultimately it failed and he trailed home in third place. Lewis Hamilton finished second after a very slow getaway saw him drop as low as seventh. He struggled in the early stages to pass the Williams of Felipe Massa, and the Toro Rosso’s of Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz round the tight Albert park circuit. Eventually though he was able to work his strategy to his advantage and catch up to his team mate. Though he did have to fend off a resurgent Vettel in the last few laps.

The race arguably turned as a result of the terrifying accident involving McLaren driver Fernando Alonso and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez on lap 17. Alonso was trying his best to pass Gutierrez on the run down to turn three. However, he seemed to be caught out by Gutierrez’s move to set himself up for the corner. Alonso’s front right wheel tagged the right rear of the Haas and he was launched into a high speed barrel roll, coming to rest upside down in the barriers. Both drivers escaped unhurt though Alonso was clearly shaken by the incident. Gutierrez was quick to ask on the radio about Alonso and was also quick to check on him as well once Alonso had crawled to safety.

The drama didn’t stop there as Ferrari had to retire Kimi Raikkonen with what looked to be an airbox fire, just one lap after the restart. He retired in the pits rather calmly as flames poured out above his head from the car. Elsewhere up and down the grid there were battles for the last few points positions. Most notably between the Toro Rosso boys of Verstappen and Sainz. Verstappen seemed to show his frustration of being bottled up behind his team mate Sainz, though when he tried to overtake him Sainz was just too fast. The result was one very upset Dutchman swearing at his team for them to move Sainz out of the way. Which they didn’t, both drivers finished 9th and 10th respectively.

The standout performance of the day though, had to go to Romain Grosjean, who scored points for Haas in their debut race as a team. The Frenchman started 19th and drove through the carnage, making good strategy calls that saw him move into 6th place by the end of the race.

“It feels like standing on the top step of the podium for us. It’s been an amazing race and an amazing weekend,” Grosjean told reporters with a beaming smile on his face.

2016 Australian GP result
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari,
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull
5. Felipe Massa, Williams
6. Romain Grosjean, Haas
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
8. Valtteri Bottas, Williams
9. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso
10. Max Verstappen, Toro Rosso
11. Jolyon Palmer, Renault
12. Kevin Magnussen, Renault
13. Sergio Perez, Force India
14. Jenson Button, McLaren
15. Felipe Nasr, Sauber
16. Pascal Wehlrein, Manor
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Not Classified
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Not Classified
Rio Haryanto, Manor, Not Classified
Estenban Gutierrez, Haas, Not Classified
Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Not Classified
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull, Not Classified

Feature image credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas

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