Bottas dominates Australian GP as Ricciardo retires

Valtteri Bottas

A dominant performance from Valtteri Bottas has handed the Finn victory in the Australian Grand Prix while Daniel Ricciardo failed to make the flag.

Starting from second, a strong start saw Bottas move into the lead at the opening corner with Hamilton slotting into second place.

Aside from the pit stop sequence, that was the way the pair ran throughout the race, with Bottas easing clear of Hamilton and the rest of his chasing pack.

“It was definitely my best race ever,” Bottas enthused after the race.

“I don’t know what happened, I just felt so good, everything was under control. The car was so good today, so truly enjoyable.”

Ricciardo’s race was effectively over before it reached the first corner, the Australian hoisting the white flag after 31 laps spent running at the bottom end of the timing screens.

He had been crowded to the side of the road off the start, bouncing over the grass and ripping the front wing off his Renault as he was squeezed for space as the field accelerated away.

Limping his Renault back to the pits, he continued to circulate until finally calling it a day on Lap 31.

Strategically, Ferrari was the first to blink as it boxed Sebastian Vettel on Lap 14.

Mercedes covered the next time around, bringing in Hamilton and swapping his soft compound tyres for a set of mediums for the run to the flag.

Stopping 11 laps later, Max Verstappen put on a charge in the latter stages which saw him move through on Vettel for third before closing on Hamilton in second place.

The Mercedes driver was able to react, holding Verstappen at bay to the tune of a second for much of the race, before the Dutchman ran off the road as the race began to enter the closing stages.

Struggling for pace, Vettel fell back into the grasp of Leclerc as the two Ferraris, both well over half a minute behind Bottas, ran line astern with its new signing not challenging his team leader.

Three drivers failed to reach the flag, Ricciardo pulling his car into the garage while Romain Grosjean pulled his Haas off the track with broken suspension.

Carlos Sainz was the race’s other retirement, with fire in the back of the McLaren as he climbed clear at pit entry.

In the final laps attention turned to the fastest lap, with Bottas, Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc seemingly battling over the bonus point.

Bottas won that scrap, taking his score to 26 points in a race he won by a comfortable 20.8 seconds over his five-time world champion team-mate.

Such was his pace that only the first six cars ended the race on the lead lap, with 17 cars classified at the finish; the Williams of Robert Kubica the last classified finisher three laps down on Bottas.

Formula 1 next moves to Bahrain Grand Prix for Round 2 of the season on March 29-31.

Race results: Australian Grand Prix

Pos Num Driver Car Laps Time/Retired
1 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 58 1:25:27.325
2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 58 +20.886
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 58 +22.520
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 58 +57.109
5 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58 +58.230
6 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 58 +1:27.156
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 57 +1 lap
8 7 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 57 +1 lap
9 18 Lance Stroll Racing Point BWT Mercedes 57 +1 lap
10 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +1 lap
11 10 Pierre Gasly Red Bull Racing Honda 57 +1 lap
12 4 Lando Norris McLaren Renault 57 +1 lap
13 11 Sergio Perez Racing Point BWT Mercedes 57 +1 lap
14 23 Alexander Albon Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 57 +1 lap
15 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 57 +1 lap
16 63 George Russell Williams Mercedes 56 +2 laps
17 88 Robert Kubica Williams Mercedes 55 +3 laps
NC 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 29 DNF
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 28 DNF
NC 55 Carlos Sainz McLaren Renault 9 DNF

Fastest lap: Valtteri Bottas

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Pts
1 Valtteri Bottas 26
2 Lewis Hamilton 18
3 Max Verstappen 15
4 Sebastian Vettel 12
5 Charles Leclerc 10
6 Kevin Magnussen 8
7 Nico Hulkenberg 6
8 Kimi Räikkönen 4
9 Lance Stroll 2
10 Daniil Kvyat 1
11 Pierre Gasly 0
12 Lando Norris 0
13 Sergio Perez 0
14 Alexander Albon 0
15 Antonio Giovinazzi 0
16 George Russell 0
17 Robert Kubica 0

Constructors’ championship

Pos Constructor Pts
1 Mercedes 44
2 Ferrari 22
3 Red Bull Racing Honda 15
4 Haas Ferrari 8
5 Renault 6
6 Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari 4
7 Racing Point BWT Mercedes 2
8 Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1
9 McLaren Renault 0
10 Williams Mercedes 0

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