The 2018 Formula 1 World Championship began under the sign of two great World Champions, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton who shared the win and pole position respectively. The result was certainly a tight fit for the Englishman who had to “surrender” to Ferrari which was very good in its strategy and supported by Sebastian who showed that he is a winning driver in times of need.
Valtteri Bottas’ mistake in qualifying had a negative effect on Mercedes’ strategy when found itself outnumbered by the two Ferraris, but it will be a championship which will also be played on mistakes and in which the contribution of all its main players will be essential. Despite the three DRS areas, Melbourne confirmed that it is a difficult track for overtaking and the Finn was unable to regain positions despite the potential of his W09.
The gap between Ferrari and Mercedes seen in qualifying (0.664 of a second) came down during the race, even though there were still four tenths of a second between Hamilton and Vettel’s best times. It was a very technical race run at a very high rhythm (14 cars on full laps with only Hartley’s Toro Rosso lapped) with Red Bull which made the fastest lap with Daniel Ricciardo who finished in fourth place behind Kimi Raikonnen despite the (excessive) penalty given him by the race marshals on the starting grid. It was a false start by Max Verstappen who should examine admit his blame after the errors he made as this is already his third season.
Alonso placed his McLaren-Renault in fifth place between Ricciardo and Verstappen’s Red Bulls with Vandoorne who finished the weekend in ninth place. The team from Woking needs these results in order to look for new sponsors which could breathe new life into the team and from which there are few comforting signs. From what we learn it seems that McLaren-Automotive is up for sale. BMW seems to be interested.
It was a decidedly bad day for Haas after the positive results in qualifying and the first part of the race. Two important results were wiped out in just as many mistakes. In any case, it is still the car to watch as it was able to take a great leap forward compared to last year.
So ends the first grand prix. In two weeks the second act will take place in Bahrain.
Gian Carlo Minardi