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Australian GP: Lights off

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After a long waiting, it was finally the time to watch the first Grand Prix of the season came. On Saturday the Mercedes proved that they are still strong, they are still the fastest on the grid and they also have two reliable cars. Lewis Hamilton got the pole position, he was 0.594s quicker than his teammate Nico Rosberg.

The big question was if Ferrari is faster than Williams and if Lotus or Red Bull can compete them for a place on the podium.

Only 15 cars managed to start the race and 11 to finish it. Williams announced that Valtteri Bottas will not take part in the race, because he had problems with his back. Another two drivers ended their day early.

Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren-Honda and Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull, failed on the way to the grid. McLaren-Honda’s poor reliability forced Kevin Magnussen to stop his car between turns five and six. Red Bull had also a reliability issue, a gearbox problem didn’t let Daniil Kvyat to race. Also Manor didn’t run all the weekend, because they had problems with their software.

The only job that the 2014 World Champion Lewis Hamilton had to do, was to defend his title and win the Australian Grand Prix. The last driver to win the first Grand Prix of the season after ending the previous year with a victory was Sebastian Vettel with the Red Bull (2010-2011).

Mercedes were uncatchable, it was a role for one. Lewis Hamilton showed from the beginning of the race that he wants to win it. When the lights went off, the British created a gap between him and his teammate and controlled the difference between them during the 58 laps of the race.

The first safety car of the season made its presence few seconds after the start of the race. Pastor Maldonado hit the barriers after an incident between his car and Felipe Nasr’s Sauber. A few minutes later his teammate Romain Grosjean had a power issue and couldn’t continue his race.

Felipe Massa was in the third place until his first pit stop, Williams decided to call Massa in to the pits and Vettel stayed out for an extra lap, which gave him the chance to overtake Felipe Massa and finish third in his first race with the Scuderia Ferrari.

Ferrari had different strategies for the two drivers. Sebastian Vettel was going to make one pit stop, whilst his teammate Kimi Raikkonen planned to do two. During his first stop, there was a problem with Kimi’s left rear tyre. The orders that were given to the Iceman were to push hard and try to pass Felipe Massa, but a problem with the same wheel during his second stop forced him to pull off just a few corners after re-joining.

Sauber’s first points of the season came from Felipe Nasr, the rookie Brazilian driver, finished fifth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. His teammate Marcus Erricson gave extra points to the team with his eighth position.

Jenson Button with the MP4-30 finished at the back of the grid (11th place). McLaren’s performance was a disappointment, but Jenson tried to give important points to the team. The team ordered Jenson Button to drive safe and try to finish the race and the British finished the race despite a gearbox problem.

The first turn of the season completed. Mercedes are far ahead from the other teams, Ferrari made major improvements and I believe that we will watch battles between them and the Williams for a place in the podium. Finally, I was impressed from Felipe Nasr’s and Max Vertappen’s performance, the second didn’t finish the race.

Next stop Malaysian Grand Prix in two weeks.

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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Victor Archakis

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