Australian Grand Prix 2017: Sebastian Vettel outpaces Lewis Hamilton

Posted April 08, 2017

"I know it's been a long time coming for them to get a result like this". Last year, he lost to then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who went on to edge him for the world championship before retiring.

The Italian manufacturer looked to have adapted well to rule changes over the course of pre-season testing that have made the cars faster than ever before. Having a true rival for Mercedes, especially one with such a rich history and emphatic fan base, will help get fans more excited about F1, which has in recent years been criticized for being boring.

Raikkonen came under pressure from Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in the latter stages of the race, but the Ferrari driver insisted this was down to him saving fuel.

"If it wasn't already clear after qualifying, then it's certainly clear now that this is going to be a season of very small margins", Mercedes technical director James Allison said. "They are definitely favorites". "I don't know. But why we didn't have the pace at the beginning of the race in these conditions, I don't know".

Ricciardo conceived a grid penalty and started the race two laps behind from the pit lane. Read between those lines.

A string of new regulations has radically changed the aesthetics of the cars, which while speeds are at record-breaking levels overtaking is expected to become more hard. "Let's get out of here", the shattered Ricciardo told his Red Bull Racing colleagues over the team radio.

Reliability problems were rife in other teams, however, with seven cars failing to finish, including McLaren's twice champion Fernando Alonso and Williams' Canadian debutant Lance Stroll. Then 11 laps short of the finish, a suspension issue likely stemming from the incident with Ericsson forced Magnussen to retire his vehicle.

In fact, even though Vettel was evidently fastest in isolation it is entirely possible that Hamilton would have won the Australian Grand Prix on the strength of his better start had he not underestimated how much life his tyres had left to run.

Hamilton started in pole but Vettel had an advantage on pace and tyre wear. It is a misstep he is unlikely to make in the future as he familiarises himself with the operating windows.

Vettel stopped on lap 23 and rejoined right in front of the Red Bull and Hamilton, fended off Verstappen's challenge into Turn Three and disappeared off into the distance. "It's been a great weekend for us as a team, but just in the race [I had] trouble with the tyres towards the end", he said.

Naturally, it isn't prudent to dismiss the changes on the evidence of one race alone.

Wolff was also convinced Ferrari had the quicker vehicle and saw testing times ahead for a team that has largely raced itself for three years.