Mercedes opened the 2019 F1 season very strong, taking first and second place on the podium in Melbourne earlier today. It was however not Lewis Hamilton who took first place, but rather his teammate Valtteri Bottas, who flew past his teammate on the opening lap and stayed there for the rest of the race.
Bottas opened this year saying that he was going to ‘beat everybody.’ He certainly came out of the gate strong this morning, but the question remains: does he have the making of a world champion, and if he does, will Mercedes let him?
The two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles LeClerc drove beautifully as well, but unfortunately could not quite keep pace with the silver arrows and they took home 4th and 5th respectively. The Ferraris put on incredible shows during the testing season, but the first race of the season seems to be a startling repeat of the last few years.
It was not all good news down the paddock unfortunately, as local boy and crowd favourite Daniel Ricciardo suffered a DNF on his home track. He was forced off the track on the opening lap where rough terrain ripped his front wing clean off.
This setback placed him dead last, and he was able to work his way up to 17 before further damage forced him to retire, leaving his former red bull teammate Max Verstappen to take 3rd. Ricciardo is considered a favourite for the season after switching from Red Bull to Renault, but it’s hard to imagine a worse start with a new team.
Other DNFs were Carlos Sainz Jr, now racing for McLaren in the wake of Fernando Alonso’s retirement. His car started smoking profusely during the race and he was forced to bring the car to a halt outside the pit lane. Additionally, Haas’s Romain Grosjean was forced to retire after a front left tire was fitted improperly during a pit stop. Cue flashback to 2018… now.
The next race on the calendar is Bahrain in two weeks time. More updates to follow.
Title image: F1i.com
Image 1: auto.idtv.com
Image 2: Fox Sports