For the drivers, for the teams, for the fans, the centre of the universe is right here on the third weekend of March… the world of Formula 1 is no bigger than a few hectares, Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit… and the weather is always a big talking point here in Melbourne, but no issues with it today: fine, sunny, 19 degrees, and it will remain dry for the afternoon, as Formula 1 roars into life for 2015.
Hello everyone, Zak Caban with you. Welcome to Round 1 of the 2015 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Rolex Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park.
Well, it’s been a controversial build-up to this race, which is the 20th to be held at Albert Park.
- BOTH Manor Marussia cars will NOT start. The British team struggled just to get to the circuit, but after failing to take part in Qualifying, they’ll be watching from the garages.
- #Saubergate was finally sorted on Saturday Morning, after Giedo van der Garde surrendered his right to race for Sauber.
This controversy had been through the court system, at one point the team boss was looking at a contempt of court charge, and possible jail time, but in the best interest of everyone involved, van der Garde stepped aside, allowing Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson to take their place on the grid, and allowing Sauber to get on with their race weekend.
Van der Garde didn’t even have his Super Licence sorted out, so even if he did win the court appeal, he would’ve unlikely been sitting on the sideline unless the FIA were to sort it out!
- BREAKING as we go LIVE, Valtteri Bottas, the Williams driver, has been ruled out of the Australian Grand Prix, after FIA medical staff deemed him unfit to race. This comes after a series of tests, which were conducted after the Finnish driver complained of back issues after the Qualifying Session yesterday.
Speaking of Qualifying, Mercedes dominated yet again, just as they did in 2013!
They’ve locked-out the front row… they dominated all the practice sessions, and they look the goods for back-to-back Drivers Constructors World Championships.
Here’s the grid for you:
2015 Rolex Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix | Starting Grid
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:26.327||16||2||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||1:26.921||14|
|3||Felipe Massa||Williams||1:27.718||21||4||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||1:27.757||12|
|5||Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||1:27.790||17||6||Valtteri Bottas||Williams||1:28.087||16|
|7||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:28.329||22||8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:28.510||22|
|9||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||1:28.560||20||10||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus||1:29.480||20|
|11||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||1:28.800||17||12||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso||1:28.868||15|
|13||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull||1:29.070||9||14||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:29.208||14|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:29.209||13||16||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1:31.376||10|
|17||Jenson Button||McLaren||1:31.422||7||18||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren||1:32.037||8|
|DNS||Will Stevens||Marussia||No time||DNS||Roberto Merhi||Marussia||No time|
3:45pm | The drama continues here at Albert Park, with both Kevin Magnussen (Mercedes) and Danii Kvyat coming to a stop on the sighting lap… take Valtteri Bottas out with his injury, and just 15 cars will start the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.
So, here we go… Season 2015. The start of a new era for those of us in Australia, with Fox Sports picking up the rights to the whole Championship, with an unprecedented deal with Sky Sports F1, which will see their unrivalled coverage beamed into Australian households for the next 6 years.
That includes every Practice session, as well as Qualifying and Race coverage from every GP, all LIVE and in High Definition. Fox viewers will also be treated to “The F1 Show”, which is Sky’s magazine show for the F1 World Championship.
Cars are off on the warm-up lap. We’re starting an hour earlier in 2015 than we did in 2014, with a 4pm AEDST start time.
The wait is nearly over.
Incidentally, Pirelli have brought the Medium and Soft compound tyres to Melbourne. As has been the case since 2007, drivers must use both the PRIME and OPTION tyres during the Grand Prix.
We’re racing in Melbourne, and Lewis Hamilton makes a brilliant start, to lead his team-mate into turn 1. Vettel was very aggressive in finding his way up to third. Raikkonen goes wide, and there’s contact, and Pastor Maldonado is in the WALL!
Maldonado has the first crash of the season, and the Safety Car is deployed on Lap 1!
Ricciardo makes his way through the carnage, and sits 6th, behind Hamilton, Rosberg, Massa, Vettel and Felipe Nasr, who made a magnificent start.
It was contact between Raikkonen, Nasr and the Lotus of Maldonado.
Maldonado’s team-mate, Romain Grosjean has also retired on Lap 1, which means we’re down to 13, as the Safety Car comes into pit-lane at the end of Lap 3.
Race back on!
Lap 6 | Hamilton’s lead out to 2.5 seconds.
Lap 11 | Top ten after 11 Laps in Melbourne
Lap 17 | Kimi Raikkonen pits from 7th position, and will rejoin in 11th.
Lap 22 | Hulkenberg pits.
Lap 24 | Good battle unfolding between Ricciardo and Massa, but the Australian pits from 5th, and will change to the medium tyre, and resume!
Lap 26 | Most cars have completed their first pit-stop, and a lot of drivers are opting for a one-stop strategy.
Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Massa, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Ericsson, Nasr, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg!
Lap 34 | We’re down to 12, as the Toro-Rosso of Max Verstappen has been parked on the entry to turn 16.
Lap 39 | Top Ten after 38 Laps
Fairly uneventful Grand Prix so far… the pit-stops appear to be over, with the exception of Nico Rosberg, who is due to complete his second pit-stop soon.
Ricciardo is fighting with Felipe Nasr for 6th position, as Kimi Raikkonen also pits for a second stop… he changes to the Medium tyre for the final run home!
Lap 42 | OH NO… KIMI RAIKKONEN HAS COME TO A HAULT ON THE EXIT OF TURN FOUR… THE ENGINE IS OFF… IT’S A MECHANICAL ISSUE, AND IT’S TERMINAL… KIMI RAIKKONEN’S DAY IS DONE!
And, then there were 11.
Lap 55 | Ericsson gets the job done, and passes Sainz for 8th position in the Australian Grand Prix.
Lap 58 | Such a commanding performance from Mercedes… they’ll finish the race as they started, 1-2… Lewis Hamilton WINS the Australian Grand Prix for the second time… the last time he won here, he won the World Championship, which is a good little omen for him.
Nico Rosberg 2nd, Vettel starts at Ferrari in style with 3rd… then Massa, Nasr and Ricciardo.
What a great result for Felipe Nasr, after all the drama for Sauber this week… for them to get on the track, and hit the ground running is extraordinary… their debutant finishes 5th, and both cars made it into the points, which is fantastic.
The saga will go on behind-the-scenes before we get to Malaysia, but they’ll relax for a little bit tonight, no doubt!
Hulkenberg 7th, Marcus Ericsson 8th, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez made up the top 10.
1:31.54.067 the winning time for Hamilton, at an average speed of 200.807km/h
So, Mercedes go 1-2… you shouldn’t be surprised. They’ll be hard to beat again in 2015.
Let’s have a look at the points.
|Drivers Championship||Constructors Championship|
|5||Felipe Nasr||Sauber||10||5||Red Bull||8|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||8||6||Force India||7|
|7||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||6||7||Toro Rosso||2|
|9||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||2|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||1|
Sebastian Vettel will be delighted with that result… it’s the most competitive he’s looked since winning the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2013. 3rd, on debut for Ferrari, and plenty more to come from the German, that is for sure.
Daniel Ricciardo will be disappointed, and so to will Red Bull… that car appeared to struggle in the back end of the Grand Prix, so much so, that it couldn’t pass the Sauber of Felipe Nasr… so, plenty of work to do at Red Bull, and plenty of work to be done for a lot of other teams after what we saw in Melbourne… Jenson Button was the only driver who finished not to score points… McLaren are nowhere near where they wanted to be, and I’m sure that Fernando Alonso won’t be all that disappointed that he wasn’t out there today, after seeing the struggle that his team endured.
Next round of the series is in a fortnight’s time… we go to Malaysia, with the race from 7pm AEDST on the Sunday Night.
We’ll have a report from that one for you, due to our LIVE coverage of the Cricket World Cup Final.
Speaking of the Cricket World Cup… LIVE coverage of the knockout stage of the tournament begins on Wednesday from 2pm.
So, it’s been an extraordinary week… Manor Marussia, still not on the track after a difficult off-season… Saubergate will continue behind-the-scenes, and a few cars not even able to complete a sighting lap this afternoon, but when the lights went out, it was all Mercedes once more, as we predicted it would be.
Lewis Hamilton wins the Australian Grand Prix for the second time… the last time a pole-sitter won here before today, was Vettel in 2011, and that incidentally, was the last time the driver who won the opening Grand Prix, also won the World Championship, which is exactly what Hamilton did after winning here in 2008, so it’s shaping up nicely for the two-time World Champion in 2015.
From all of us here at the Australian Grand Prix… it’s bye for now!