Australian GP

Flashback to 2016 – Australian Grand Prix

After what many described as a disaster on Saturday for qualifying, Sunday is a new day with drivers taking to the grid under clear skies.

Following qualifying there were a couple of penalties to the grid, the first from the Free Practice clash for Rio Haryanto who now falls behind his team mate at the back of the grid, and despite being investigated for not submitting the correct paperwork for their suspension, Valtteri Bottas will have a five place grid drop to 16th.

With the grid forming, along with the top eight drivers who got through to the final part of qualifying, both Haas drivers would start on the Soft tyre along Perez, Hulkenberg, Button, Bottas and Kvyat. The rest would start on the Super Soft tyre.

Lewis Hamilton led the field to the grid at the end of the formation lap, the cars behind slowly making up the grid behind. A car stopped in the middle of the grid, with Kvyat stopping before the start and stranded at the back of the field.

With Kvyat’s Red Bull stranded at the back of the field, the cars were waived around for another formation lap. The Russian got out of the car, but they were pushing the car to the wrong side of the grid for him to start from the pit lane. The Red Bull appeared as the cars arrived at the grid, but they got it through the hole in the wall.

The cars took to their positions on the grid once again, with Lewis pointing his car to the left in an strange position. The lights are out with a great start from Vettel taking the lead, with Rosberg in second after a bad stoart from Hamilton. He dropped behind Verstappen and Massa. Palmer was pushed wide in turn 7 by the McLaren, and fell back into the Manor. Magnussen got a puncture at the start as well, making it back to the pits.

At the end of the first lap Vettel was ahead of Raikkonen by a second and a half, from Rosberg, Verstappen, Massa and Hamilton. Gutierrez said over the radio at the back of the field he was having problems with the engine.

Overtaking the recovering Magnussen on lap 4, Hamilton made the move on Felipe Massa through turn 3 into turn 4, elevating him up to fifth. Further up the road, Rosberg was also closing in on Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari with the German setting the fastest lap of the race. Hamilton was instantly on the back of Verstappen as well behind.

With the two Mercedes drivers having a lack of track position, they were not loosing too much time to the leaders, with Hamilton only seven seconds down on the leader by lap 8. Hamilton’s front left tyre was graining though, dropping back slightly on the Toro Rosso, while Rosberg also fell back slightly on the Ferrari.

The first pit stop from Carlos Sainz was on lap 9, while Valtteri Bottas got ahead of the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, making his way up to 14th, the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein would be his next challenge, he overtook him very quickly. Ricciardo overtook Massa for sixth.

Hamilton said over the radio that he ‘couldn’t pass the guy’, talking about Verstappen. Felipe Nasr pitted on lap 11 for a set of the soft tyres. Mercedes said to Hamilton over the radio that they would extend his stint, with the suggestion of a one stop. Massa pitted a lap later, with the Williams driver also taking a set of the soft tyres.

There was a good battle on track between Palmer and Bottas in 11th. The Williams faster than the Renault, but Palmer was showing some great defensive driving.

Rosberg pitted from third on lap 13, with him taking a set of the soft tyres for the German. He came out just ahead of Nico Hulkenberg. Palmer pitted at the end of that lap as well, while Hamilton was told that they were going to switch his strategy. The Mercedes driver was still right on the back of Max Verstappen.

Vettel pitted for Ferrari from the lead on lap 14, taking the super soft tyre and ahead of the Mercedes. Rosberg attacked the Ferrari into turn 3, although couldn’t make a move, while Verstappen pitted releasing Hamilton. Verstappen came out behind Bottas, and went ahead of him very quickly, his team mate Sainz also getting past the Williams. Button was overtaken by Ricciardo just up the road, with Verstappen also overtaking the McLaren.

With those flying that have already pitted, Vettel made an easy move on the late stopping Hamilton. Rosberg lost time behind his teammate to Vettel, with Lewis not yielding. Raikkonen pitted for the super softs, while Hamilton put on the medium tyres aiming to go all the way to the end of the race. Hamilton got out ahead of Felipe Massa.

Esteban Gutierrez and Fernando Alonso had a large crash with the Spaniard getting out of the upside down McLaren very gingerly. There was debris all over the circuit on the entry to the pitlane.

Replays showed that the McLaren hit the back of the Haas, with the closing speed knocking the right front out, before Alonso hit the wall. On entering the gravel trap, the McLaren then had a barrel roll twice before coming to a halt at the barrier upside down. It looked very similar to the Martin Brundle crash in 1996.

So with a large amount of debris, the red flag was shown with cars entering the pit lane. Lewis Hamilton look the opportunity to change his front wing after it was damaged slightly in the first corner with his team mate.

The order at lap 18 under the red flag: Vettel, Rosberg, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz, Hamilton, Massa, Grosjean and Bottas.

Having already been lapped, Magnussen was pushed to the front end of the pitlane and will be allowed to join the back of the pack behind the safety car.

Magnussen went out on his free lap, with a set of the medium tyres with the Manor of Haryanto in the garage standing outside his car with the cars about to rejoin the track. Hamilton retained his medium tyres, with his team mate also taking the medium tyre. At the front Ferrari took the super soft tyres, while the majority of the field agreed with Mercedes taking the super soft.

The safety car led the field away, with just a lap before the action restarted. It was a good start from Vettel and Rosberg. Ricciardo tried to have a look at Raikkonen, and then Verstappen tried to overtake the Red Bull into turn three.

Despite taking the medium tyre, two steps different to the Ferrari, Mercedes were still keeping pace to the Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen came into the pits on lap 23 with Raikkonen retiring with a fire coming out the back of the car.

At the front Vettel, now on his own was pulling away from Rosberg, while Australian Daniel Ricciardo was elevated to third ahead of the two Toro Rosso drivers. Hamilton was in close quarters to the Toro Rosso’s but couldn’t get ahead of them.

It was announced by the stewards they were investigating Marcus Ericsson for his team working on the car with 15 seconds to go before the restart, picking up a drive through penalty.

Vettel wasn’t pulling away from Rosberg as much as he should have, with the gap still at three seconds on lap 28. In fact on lap 30, Rosberg was faster than the Ferrari.

Jenson Button stopped on lap 31, the first of the super soft runners stopping for a set of the medium tyres at McLaren. Sainz was struggling with his tyres, blocking Lewis Hamilton badly at the end of the lap, where the Toro came in for a set of the medium tyres as well. He came out behind Sergio Perez, into 12th place. Verstappen pitted a lap later and it was a very slow stop with the team not ready for him, he lost out to his team mate, who was right on the back of Perez. Verstappen was very unhappy over the radio, as he was telling the team the tyres were going.

With others stopping it elevated Grosjean to sixth for Haas. Sainz overtook Perez as well on the same lap.

Rosberg was closing in on the Ferrari, with the gap down to just over a second and nearly in the area of the DRS. The Ferrari pitted on lap 35, with the German taking the soft tyre and there was a problem at the front tyre with a five second pit stop. He still came out ahead of the Williams though, with Lewis Hamilton the next car up the road.

Further back, Palmer was holding back the two Toro Rosso’s in 9th. After the pit stops, Sainz was ahead of Verstappen all in close quarters battling for the latter end of the points.

Now released, Hamilton was fast and closing in on the Red Bull, also closing in on this team mate. Now only 11 seconds off the lead and a second from Ricciardo> Vettel was also closing in on them all in fourth after his pit stop – only 17 seconds from the lead.

The battle between the Toro Rosso drivers and Palmer was hotting up, with Sainz unable to get ahead of the Renault driver who had older tyres. Verstappen wanted to get ahead of the Spaniard to have a go at overtaking the Renault.

Marcus Ericsson was running slowly in the Sauber, just at the point where the battle of the Toro Rosso’s were battling, even though the team had encouraged a swap over the radio the lap before.

On lap 41, Hamilton was on the back of Daniel Ricciardo for second. It was an easy move into the first corner for second place in the Mercedes. Sainz was closer on Palmer making his way through into the first corner, with Verstappen following through in turn 3. Verstappen taking just two corners to overtake the Renault.

Daniel Ricciardo pitted on lap 43, a set of the super soft tyres at Red Bull, coming out behind Felipe Massa but ahead of Grosjean in the Haas who was still keeping the Force India and Williams behind him. The Toro Rosso drivers now unleashed behind.

By lap 46 and Ricciardo had got onto the back of Felipe Massa, in what was an easy pass into the first corner for fourth place. It would be an uphill challenge though for the podium, with Sebastian Vettel 20 seconds up the road in the Ferrari.

A lap later, and the Toro Rosso’s had hit the back of the train behind Romain Grosjean, with Max Verstappen unhappy with the driving of his team mate. Verstappen at the back of the line had a fright, getting out of shape on the kerb.

At the front Vettel was closing in on Hamilton, with the Ferrari now just over three seconds behind the Mercedes on a different tyre. Hamilton made a mistake on lap 52, which meant that Vettel got to within DRS range and right on the back of the car in front.

Verstappen, who had been complaining over the radio spun at the penultimate corning hitting his team mate in the process, losing a piece of the front wing. Vettel went wide at the penultimate corner, running onto the grass at exactly at the point where Verstappen went off the road.

Further back and Verstappen also had closed in again on his team mate Sainz, all for 9th place.

So despite a bad start to the race it was a 1-2 for Mercedes with Nico Rosberg winning from Lewis Hamilton, ahead of Vettel who was compromised on strategy in third. Daniel Ricciardo in fourth, Massa fifth and Grosjean getting points in sixth on Haas’s debut. Nico Hulkenberg 7th, Massa 8th and the Toro Rosso’s in 9th and 10th – Sainz ahead of Verstappen.

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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