Ferrari is faster than Mercedes
At last, there’s a battle to savour at the sharp end of the grid
So Sebastian Vettel is the frst F1 winner of 2017 – his frst win since Singapore in 2015. And no, it wasn’t down to either of the Mercedes conking out, or particularly poor strategy from the German champions... Ferrari was simply faster over the full distance in Melbourne, looked after its tyres better and applied enough pressure to force an opening from Mercedes. How much faster was Vettel than Hamilton? It’s hard to say, but the fact he maintained a constant gap in the opening lap despite the dirty air from Hamilton’s car costing him downforce, speaks volumes.
How long have we been waiting to say that? Ironically, it was Hamilton who’s been talking up Ferrari’s chances, labelling them the favourites. He probably wishes he’d not been so kind.
Pole-sitter Hamilton led from the start, but lost out when he pitted and got stuck behind Max Verstappen, letting the Ferrari driver build up enough of a time advantage to pit without losing the frst place he’d gained when Hamilton came in. Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas fnished a steady third, Kimi Räikkönen fourth and Verstappen ffth.
Retirees included Fernando Alonso, who sufered a suspected suspension issue not far from the end of the race. Aussie Daniel Ricciardo almost didn’t start after his car stopped on the way to the grid. Red Bull got it running again, but he broke down for good on lap 30.
There have been better season openers, and sure, there wasn’t much overtaking, but there often isn’t at Melbourne. What we witnessed was two teams neck and neck in terms of pace – setting up what could be the best season in years... especially if Red Bull can sort its reliability issues and drag itself into contention.
Vettel back on the podium. Expect to see much more of this