One out of F1 for Hamilton in 2015
The Australian Grand Prix marked the beginning of a new season of F1 racing. This year, there have been plenty of new drivers emerging onto the scene such as Felipe Nasr for Sauber and Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr., as well as some substantial and surprising changes in the team line-ups.
Sebastian Vettel headed over to Ferrari alongside Kimi Raikkonen for the new season and displaced Alonso moved to McLaren, forcing Kevin Magnussen back into the reserve spot.
Unfortunately, before the race had even begun, two drivers were unable to participate. Fernando Alonso, still recovering from his head injury picked up during practice in Barcelona, was replaced by Kevin Magnussen for the opening race. Valtteri Bottas, fresh off a fantastic season last year for the newly invigorated Williams team, hurt his back during qualifying and had to retire.
Starting Pains In Australia
Of course, the beginning of a new season always heralds some teething problems, and this year was no exception – of the 18 cars that qualified for the race, only 11 actually made it past the chequered flag.
Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Toro Rosso drives during final practice for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park © Red Bull Media House
Manor Marussia were unable to race this weekend, hence the low number of qualifiers. Magnussen’s replacement of Alonso didn’t last long as the newly acquired and unreliable Honda engine powering the McLaren team car failed on the parade lap, and the Danish driver came to a halt.
He was followed not long after by the young Russian Daniil Kvyat, on his debut for Red Bull after moving up from Toro Rosso last year, but whose gearbox failed in the run-up to the grid before he, too, was forced to stop before the race had officially begun.
The remaining 15 cars did eventually start, however, on lap one disaster struck again for Lotus, who, after a terrible season last year, got off to an even worse start in 2015. Pastor Maldonado caught the back of Felipe Nasr’s Sauber and went into the barriers, in a crash bad enough to remove him from the running.
Not even one lap afterwards, the Frenchman Romain Grosjean headed into the pits as his car began to fail and was also forced to retire – the team was out after only one lap.
Pole Position for Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP stands on the podium with Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP and Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park © Red Bull Media House
At the front of the pack, the season began exactly how last season finished; the Mercedes were totally in a race of their own, both taking off without a problem and controlling the pace of the entire event.
Hamilton took first place after leading the entire time, with the exception of a short period after his pit stop when he was overtaken by his teammate, but the superiority of the Mercedes engines cannot be denied and Hamilton and Rosberg took a not unsurprising 1-2 finish for the German team.
Ferrari did well to nudge Vettel into third place on his debut for the team, just managing to squeeze Williams’ Felipe Massa out of the podium spot with a well-timed pit stop.
His teammate Raikkonen, though, was not so lucky – he suffered twice in the pits, once with his first pit stop which took an extraordinarily long time due to complications, and then another after they discovered that a tyre had not been fitted safely, and the driver was forced to pull in once more and retire.
The team is currently being investigated for the unsafe release of the car which could have resulted in injury.
Button’s McLaren lagged miles behind the rest of the pack with a gearbox problem, but the brave Brit managed to haul it over the line in last place, the only driver not to score any points in this race.
Max Verstappen of Scuderia Toro Rosso and The Netherlands during qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park © Red Bull Media House
Max Verstappen, the youngest driver in F1 history, making his debut for Toro Rosso, also faced an unfortunate finish as he, too, had to retire halfway through.
All in all, a very disappointing weekend for most teams who clearly still have a lot of early season work to do on their cars in time to prepare for Malaysia. However, Mercedes have started the year as they mean to go on with an excellent performance far outclassing any other cars on the circuit, and it looks as if it will be another strong year for the Silver Arrows.