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For Vettel, it was a victory that took a lot of work by the Italian unit over the winter, that finally paid off.
"It's been a great day for us." Vettel stated afterwards. "The team has been working so hard at the track as much as back at the factory. It's a great feeling. "Grazie mille", you can't say much more. The last months have been really intense, it's been tough to get into the rhythm. It's just the beginning and there's still a lot of work going on. This is one of many steps and we have to enjoy what we do. It's great to see people smiling. Now we have to reset to go to China and try to do a good job."
Hamilton's problem took place around lap 20, when the Briton came in for his first stop, only leading Vettel by no more than two seconds. Vettel then increased his lead as Hamilton was in the pits, by nearly six seconds. But as Hamilton returned to the circuit, he encountered Verstappen and had difficulties passing the Dutchman. The chance was lost, and even with Vettel stopping later in the race, the gap was still too far to catch the German for Hamilton. By the end of the race, Vettel increased his chances for victory as Hamilton began to fade away, now even being threatened by his teammate Bottas, with Vettel finally winning the race by 9.9 seconds.
Daniel Ricciardo was the big disappointment of the day, in front of his home fans. The Red Bull driver encountered a stuck sixth gear with only 24 minutes to go before the start of the race. Ricciardo managed to get the car back to the pits, but missed the start and rolled out back onto the circuit laps later. But the attempt was brave, but pointless, as Ricciardo retired his car by lap 30. For the American Haas F1 Team, one year made a difference as both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen never saw the finish line, with both cars retiring with power unit and suspension problems, respectively.
Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in the second Ferrari, having never being involved in the battle for the top three positions. Verstappen ended up in fifth, while Felipe Massa had a very quiet race in his Williams, taking sixth. In a tense battle at the end of the race, Sergio Perez just finished in seventh ahead of both Toro Rossos of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Dani Kvyat, with Esteban Ocon just grabbing the last point in 10th , just in front of Nico Hulkenberg in the Renault.
Round two of the world championship resumes April 9th in Shanghai, China.
ROLEX GRAND PRIX OF AUSTRALIA
At Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia
1 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
2 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) AMG Mercedes +9.9 seconds behind
3 Valterri Bottas (FIN) AMG Mercedes
4 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
5 Max Verstappen(NED) Red Bull Racing
6 Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams Martini Racing
7 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Toro Rosso
9 Danii Kvyat (RUS) Toro Rosso
10 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India
11 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
12 Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA) Sauber
13 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren-Honda
14 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren-Honda-suspension- lap 54
15 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team-suspension- lap 51
16 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams Martini Racing –power unit- lap 44
17 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing-power unit- lap 30
18 Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber F1-engine- lap 25
19 Jolyon Palmer (GBR) Renault Sport-suspension- lap 26
20 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team –power unit– lap 22