FORMULA 1 ROLEX AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX 2019

March 19, 2019 Off By The Badger

F1™ Race Report – Australian GP 2019

Valtteri Bottas takes the first win of the year in Australia following a dominant display from the Finn.

Charlie Whiting

We start the 2019 with a very sad note as the F1™ community mourns the passing of Race Director Charlie Whiting who lost his life on Thursday as he prepared to kick off yet another season in the sport. Charlie was a racing man, and he was respected by everyone on the grid so the mood come Friday was a very somber one amongst the drivers. Ever since F1™ started broadcasting driver and team messages we have heard the name Charlie being thrown around at almost every race as teams and drivers alike would bombard Charlie with complaints, observations and anything remotely related to the race. He was polite, he was understanding and his presence will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace Charlie.

Porridge for Breakfast = Lightening Start for Bottas

To say 2018 was a disappointing season for Valtteri Bottas would be an understatement. He played second fiddle to his team mate throughout most of the campaign and had at least two race victories taken from him in Baku and in Sochi. Luck wasn’t on his side and when your team mate is breaking record after record and winning 11 races compared to 0 it’s never going to be easy getting the upper hand. He promised he would return stronger and he did in the opening weekend of the year down under.

Lewis took pole on Saturday, pipping his team by just over a tenth of a second but come Sunday the five time World Champion was slow getting out of the blocks and it was now Bottas’ turn to pip his team mate, nudging ahead of him at the first corner and never looking back. It was a performance akin to those dominating races we’ve been accustomed to seeing his team mate dominating and with the weight of Esteban Ocon hanging around the Mercedes garage the Finn needed to be perfect, and he was.

As far as opening races go, we’ve seen much better due to all the elements of the unknown heading into unchartered territory. If the first race is an indication of who the team to beat will be then it seems like Mercedes have either really upped their game after Ferrari’s threat last year or the rest of the pack has seriously regressed. We were promised a three way battle between Mercedes, Ferrari & Red Bull but could we have another team mate squabble down at Mercedes? Yes please!

Valtteri Bottas also left Australia with the fastest lap, which as of this season means you get an extra point added to your tally. Not a bad afternoon at the office for the Finn who cheekily answered that he had Porridge for breakfast when asked by Mark Webber on the Podium. Don’t change Valtteri, don’t change.

F1™ Debuts of worthy mention

Llando Norris put in a great shift on Saturday outqualifying his team mate Sergio Perez and making it to Q3 to qualify in P8. His race was less spectacular as the young brit could only bring the car home in P12, with his team mate retiring with engine issues.

All eyes were on Daniel Ricciardo this weekend as he got ready to race for Renault after his much talked about move from Red Bull. A disappointing Saturday was followed by an even more disappointing Sunday for the home favorite. At the start he somehow managed to destroy his front wing in an unfortunate collision, with a rather bumpy patch of grass. He then miraculously managed to avoid a major collision as he went hard on the brakes into turn 1 with the crowd holding their collective breath. He limped home to the pits but had to retire the car a few laps later. Everyone wants to see the Honey Badger on the podium this year but it’s going to be a big ask from the popular Aussie.

Next is Pierre Gasly who was promoted to Red Bull from sister team Toro Rosso following Ricciardo’s exit. The young Frenchman endured a tough pre-season testing and his first race followed the same path. He didn’t make it to Q3 on Saturday and he didn’t make it into the points on Sunday finishing in P11, behind Danill Kvyat who replaced him at Toro Rosso. Oh the Irony! With Verstappen finishing on the Podium, (the first time since 2008 that Honda have made it onto the podium), Gasly is going to have to seriously up his game if he is to challenge his team mate first and foremost.

2019 Predictions

If Mercedes are the team to beat this year and it’s a straight fight between Hamilton and Bottas, then my money is on Hamilton to take his sixth title. Lewis has been in the team since 2013 and knows the ins and outs of all the political battles he needs to tackle, partly thanks to Nico Rosberg and partly because the Brit has been at the top of his game for a solid five years now. Nico was left physically and mentally shattered at the end of his titanic three-year battle with Lewis so if Bottas is to seriously challenge then he needs to better his team mates results for the opening six to seven races of the year to stand any chance. I don’t believe Mercedes will run away with the title, although the Australian GP tells a different story I firmly believe that Ferrari & Red Bull will be much much closer in Bahrain.

Final Classification

1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:25:27.325

2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 20.886s

3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 22.520s

4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57.109s

5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58.230s

6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 87.156s

7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 LAP

8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1 LAP

9 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1 LAP

10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 LAP

11 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1 LAP

12 Lando Norris McLaren 1 LAP

13 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1 LAP

14 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1 LAP

15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1 LAP

16 George Russell Williams 2 LAPS

17 Robert Kubica Williams 3 LAPS

DNF

Daniel Ricciardo Renault

Carlos Sainz McLaren

Romain Grosjean Haas

Fastest Lap

Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:25.580 57

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