Sunday, 15 March 2015

Hamilton takes victory for Mercedes as Vettel secures a podium in his first race for Ferrari

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton took a lights to flag victory in this morning's season opening Australian GrandPrix.

The double world champion led home team Nico Rosberg to give the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team a 1-2 finish. Speaking following the race Hamilton commented saying:

'It’s quite unbelievable, really, what this team has done. It’s a great feeling to start off the season the way we finished the last and the car is just incredible, so thank you to the team. It was still a tough race, though, as Nico was very quick throughout. It was about managing fuel and also the tyres - trying to see how long we could push them. Once I'd built a two second gap it was about maintaining it. But when Nico turned up the heat it was tough. He drove really well and it's a great result for the team to start the season with a 1-2. It's good to see Ferrari back up here on the podium. I think they have taken a big step, so I anticipate a good fight with them this year at some point and we can't back off. In fact, the podium was pretty awesome. I don’t often get star struck but I can’t believe I was up there with the Terminator! Anyway, we’ve learned a lot this weekend and there will be a lot of analysis to do before Malaysia. Hopefully we’ll keep finding ways to improve. Just because we had that gap today it doesn’t mean we’ll be cruising. There’s still a long way to go.'

Nico Rosberg was delighted for the team with the 1-2 finish saying:

'What a start for us. It's great to have the quickest car again and what an amazing job by everybody involved. A big thank you to the guys back in the factories for all their work. Okay, so now it's 1:0 to Lewis. He did a perfect job this weekend with no mistakes and improved a lot from Friday to Sunday. Yesterday after Qualifying I was already on the back foot and that's difficult to change in a race against Lewis. I need to have a better Saturday, which I was able to do last year. But it's still a long season with lots of races to go. I want to strike back in Malaysia, so that’s the focus. Thanks to everyone in Europe for waking up so early and for crossing their fingers for us – we’ve had fantastic support and it’s really great to see.'

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team's Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff stated:

'We never expected a performance like this today. Winning in Formula One is never easy and never something you can take for granted. But today, the car and the drivers were faultless, so we must congratulate them and the team here on the track and back in the factories. Lewis got everything 100% right today – he grabbed every opportunity and drove a perfect race. Nico was right on his heels but never quite able to get close enough to really attack. Clearly, we have a great car and engine; we have made some good steps over the winter and done our homework right. But Ferrari have bounced back strongly, too, and it’s good to have them back in the game – they have everything they need and they will be coming closer. Now we have to head home and focus on Malaysia.'

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team's Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe concluded by saying:

'A terrific result and a great way to kick off the 2015 championship. It’s particularly satisfying to get both cars home at the first race of the season, where reliability is always a key focus, and to do so with such a strong performance is a great achievement. All credit to the teams back at the factories for building a car that appears to be both quick and reliable. Hopefully this race will be a good indicator of what’s to come throughout the year. Congratulations also to both Lewis and Nico, who drove faultlessly throughout the race. We now look forward to a very different challenge at the first of our home Grands Prix in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.'

Scuderia Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel had a fantastic debut race for the Italian team as the German secured a third place finish. Speaking following the race Vettel said that the podium finish felt like a win.

Felipe Massa did a great job for the Williams Martini Racing Team as the Brazil finished the race in fourth place which was a great result on the day that only one FW37 took part in the race as Valtteri Bottas rested after back pain after qualifying.

The stand out performance of the race however has to be Felipe Nasr and the Sauber F1 Team as the Brazilian put their off track issues to one side to finish the race in fifth place scoring 10 points for the team who failed to score a single point last season.

Daniel Riccardo finished the race in sixth place for Infiniti Red Bull Racing albeit one lap down on race winner Hamilton. Speaking following his home event the Australian stated:

'It wasn’t the most exciting race. After the start I was able to stay with Nasr, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to make the move. We finished the race and got some points which was positive, and there are things we can learn; I think on paper sixth was the best for us today. It was a shame for Dany, I feel for him I hope we have a smoother weekend in Malaysia. In terms of where we need to improve, the main issue is the drivability and the power, there are pretty big chunks that we know we need to find there. Beyond that it’s hard, as with the chassis itself I don’t think we’ve really been able to test it to its limits yet due to the other issues we’ve had. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have got a lot of information from this weekend which will help us ahead of Malaysia.'

Nico H├╝lkenberg finished the race in seventh place for the Sahara Force India Formula One team with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson in 8th place for the Swiss based outfit.

Speaking after the race the German stated

'I am very pleased with today's result and starting the season with two cars in the points is always positive. It was a good race; I didn't make any mistakes and, while the reliability of our car helped us take advantage of the problems of others, at this stage in the season it is important to capitalise on any opportunity. We were ready when it counted; we had a good strategy and we delivered under the pressure. In terms of performance we are not yet where we would like to be, but everyone is working really hard to get there and make our car quicker. With points on the board we can now look forward to Malaysia in a couple of weeks and hopefully take another step forward.'

On his Formula One debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso, Carlos Sainz Jnr finished in the points in ninth place.

Sahara Force India's Sergio 'Checco' Perez rounded out the top ten. McLaren Honda's Jenson Button finished the race in eleventh place for the Woking based outfit and was the last driver to finish the race.

Speaking following the race, Perez stated:

'It was one of those unusual races where so many things happened, but I’m certainly happy to come away with a point and see Nico also score good points for the team. We went for a different strategy compared to Nico to maximise the team’s chances so I started on the medium tyres in order to have the advantage on the softs at the end of the race. Unfortunately, after the safety car the FIA asked me to give a place back to Ericsson, which also meant dropping behind Button, and that was really painful for my race. Button was on the soft tyres and, although I was quicker, it was not easy to overtake and I lost a lot of track position. Still, I’m focussing on the positives of scoring a point from a difficult race, which is a good result for the team.'

Sahara Force India Team Principal an Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya stated:

'A double points finish is a positive way to start the season and a reward for all the hard work everyone in the team produced over the winter. In a race with high attrition, we made the most of the reliability of the VJM08, which at the moment is one of our strengths. Nico completed an excellent race, without putting a wheel wrong from lights to flag; he looked in control and we were never in doubt he would score well today. Sergio had an eventful race, recovering from contact and a spin early on: he made the most of his ability to manage the tyres with a very long stint and was able to score a point. Unfortunately, Sergio had to relinquish the positions he made at the start, otherwise he would have been very close to Nico. Still, it is always good to start a season with two cars in the points and we can leave Melbourne feeling positive.'

The rest of the field retired from the race for various reasons with Kimi Raikkonen ending his day just nine laps from the end of the race after the team discovered a problem with SF15-T. It is believed that the Finn may have had a lose wheel following his unsafe release from the Ferrari pitbox.

Neither Daniil Kvyat for Infiniti Re Bull Racing or Kevin Magnussen for McLaren Honda manged to start the race after coming to halt on the parade lap ahead of the start of the Grand Prix. Speaking afterwards Kvyat stated:

'I had to stop on the way to the grid as we had a problem; I think it was something to do with the gearbox. Obviously it’s not a nice feeling to watch the other drivers on track while you are here. From now on, it can only get better so we are staying positive. I have confidence in the team. We have another race in two weeks and will be pushing as hard as we can ahead of that.'

Infiniti Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner commented saying:

'A frustrating grand prix for us. It was disappointing to lose Daniil before the race started with a gearbox problem. Daniel did everything he could with the tools that he had. It unfortunately demonstrates that there’s a quite a lot of ground to make up, so sixth place was the best we could manage on a rather difficult day.'

© Ben Johnston 2015

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