With the sun out in Melbourne, the sun also came up on a new Formula One season, a new era for the sport in more ways than one.
Following the events of the last couple of days, Williams rookie Lance Stroll had to change a gearbox, with the team picking up a suspended fine for not telling the FIA and Daniel Ricciardo did the same afterwards.
The Australian stopped on the circuit on his warm up lap, reporting that he was stuck in sixth gear. He eventually got out the car, with him returning to the pitlane in a pick up truck. Getting the car back to the garage, the team confirmed there was a sensor problem, and would try and start the car from the pitlane.
Toro Rosso also had their own mini drama on the grid, with Daniil Kvyat’s car having a small fire, but were able to keep it under control.
All the drivees would start on the ultraosfts apart from Ericsson and Stroll on the supersofts and Giovinazzi, Magnussen and Palmer on the soft.
At the get go there was an aborted start, with the field taking an extra formation, and losing a lap of the race. Towards the back of the grid someone had parked in the wrong pitbox. Heading around again, Lewis Hamilton said that the grip was poor on the grid. Ricciardo’s Red Bull was still being worked on in the pitlane.
Hamilton got away well, with Bottas following him, with Vettel retaining his place. Grosjean lost a place to Massa. Magnussen and Ericsson went off at turn three. Perez overtook Kvyat, with Magnussen confirming over the radio that he had a puncture.
At the front and Vettel was closing in on Hamilton, Bottas falling back from the leading pair slightly. On lap 2, Daniel Ricciardo exited the pitlane, 2 laps down on the ultrasoft tyre.
Stoffel Vandoorne said on the radio on lap 3 that he had lost his dash, losing therefore all the data on it. Lance Stroll pitted early after picking up six places following a flat spot.
Hamilton was slowing building a lead at the front, before Vettel setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 11. Hamilton complained that the tyres were overheating at the front of the field, surprising after 10 laps.
Stoffel Vandoorne pitted on lap 10, with the Belgian having trouble with a loss of power. They did a reboot through the pitstop and he went back out onto the circuit.
Jolyon Palmer had a brake prolem in the Renault, falling behind the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson who had his own problem at the start of the race. Coming back from his pitstop, Stroll had caught up to the back of Giovinazzi’s Sauber. There was no action taken on the accident at the start.
Romain Grosjean entered the pitlane with a large amount of smoke coming out of the back of the Haas, retiring from 7th place. He was going well in top ten, with his teammate running at the back of the field following the first lap shunt. It also elevated Alonso into the top ten.
Giovinazzi pitted on lap 16 in the Sauber releasing Stroll, while Palmer was still having problems with braking.
Hamilton pitted first from the lead on lap 17, with Vettel remaining on the circuit but behind the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. The Mercedes went back out on the soft tyre, with Palmer retiring in the pitlane at the same time. Perez also pitted, along with Alonso and Hulkenberg. On his outlap, Hamilton was caught out by Giovinazzi stopping, although he got ahead down the back straight.
Vettel set the fastest final sector of the race, although Hamilton on his outlap quickly was faster than Vettel. The Mercedes was much faster than Vettel, and the Ferrari still remained out two laps later. The problem for Hamilton though was Verstappen just ahead for position, with no blue flags.
Massa pitted on lap 21 from 6th, coming out ahead of Ricciardo on the road. Hamilton was told by the team that it is critical for him to overtake the Red Bull to maintain his battle with Vettel. With Vettel closing in on the back of Stroll, they left him out on the circuit, while Hamilton lapped the Sauber and Verstappen was losing grip on his old tyres. Vettel also passed Stroll that lap.
Vettel pitted on lap 23, with the gap to Hamilton at 23 seconds. IT was a set of the soft tyres for him to get ahead of the Verstappen and Hamilton fight. Instantly the Ferrari started to pull away from the Red Bull with Hamilton looking like he could do nothing about it. There were yellow flags in sector 3 on lap 25 for a retiring Ericsson.
Lewis Hamilton said over the radio that there ‘nothing left in these tyres’ on lap 26 after he switched to the soft tyre. Bottas though was leading at this time after not stopping, which he did at the end of that lap. Raikkonen would take the lead of the race, while Verstappen would also pit in the Red Bull releasing Hamilton. It was a set of the supersoft tyre for Verstappen. Raikkonen pitted on the next lap, with Ferrari taking the soft tyres.
Daniel Riccairdo stopped in the Red Bull coming out of turn 3, with yellow flags coming out through that sector. Christian Horner reported to Sky Sport F1 that it looked like an engine failure.
Six seconds down on Vettel now, Hamilton was also being caught by Bottas, only five seconds behind his teammate. Kvyat was the only driver in the top ten yet to stop, using the ultrasoft tyre for 33 laps, when Hamilton was talking about struggling on his soft tyres.
Kvyat pitted on lap 35, while Bottas was continuing to close in on his teammate for second. Verstappen was also closing in on Raikkonen, with him on a different strategy. He set the fastest lap of the race on lap 42, while a yellow flag was brought out for Lance Stroll going wide. He then retired on returning to the pitlane.
On lap 45 Hamilton said that the ‘power was dropping in and out’, with Bottas still slowly closing in on the back of his teammate. Kvyat was allowed to pass Sainz, in order to put Perez under pressure for 7th. Kvyat pitted on lap 51 in the Toro Rosso, after he wass trying to pressure Perez. Magnussen also retired on the same lap.
Ocon got ahead of Alonso for tenth, with Hulkenberg taking the advantage behind the pair of them. Alonso said that there was a problem with the car, pulling to the left.
After he went into the pits, Kvyat set the new fastest lap of the race, 2.2 seconds faster than 2016, which isnt as much as was expected. McLaren retired Alonso with just four laps remaining.
Both Verstappen and Kvyat wanted to go for the fastest lap at he end of the race, which was held by Bottas, and then Raikkonen.
It was however an easy win for Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari, ten seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton who led home his teammate despite struggling on his tyres for much of the race.