Ferrari Shock And Awe By Winning The Australian Grand Prix
Four seasons, five seasons max that’s typically the maximum amount of time any one team dominates in Formula One. Mercedes enjoyed a three year almost total dominance of the sport and that all ended in Melbourne over the weekend as Ferrari won the Australian Grand Prix with a car that proved to be the fastest over the course of the race, that’s typically how races are won.
Ferrari enjoyed a strong pre-season test period and while they have enjoyed many before they have never been able to carry that form into the season proper. New 2017 rules mean a changing of the order has begun, while Lewis Hamilton secured pole on Saturday for once it wasn’t by a significant margin over the second fastest team.
At the close of the qualifying session Hamilton was first just over three tenths ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. This was the first clear indication that Ferrari were genuinely quick for the first time in five years.
Ferrari, for the past five years, have not been able to produce consistent race pace, that is no longer the case. Vettel’s clear victory over Hamilton means they now enjoy a complete package and will play a major role in defining who ends up wining the F1 Championship.
Throughout the Australian GP Ferrari enjoyed consistent tyre wear and this was key to Vettel’s victory. He didn’t win the race by going wheel to wheel with Hamilton he won the Australian Grand Prix because Hamilton pitted early, lap 17, due to his tyre’s wearing out faster than anticipated.
Vettel was able to make his pit-stop and get out ahead of Hamilton because the Mercedes driver was being held up by fifth place Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver was fighting for position and Hamilton found it difficult to overtake.
Modern F1 cars leave behind them a wall of heat and a high-speed turbulent air flow not too dissimilar to a speed boat leaving a bow ‘wake’ behind it. This aerodynamic wake makes it difficult for the driver behind to overtake. Something that had been foreseen for this season after the introduction of new rules pertained to the aerodynamics.
As Hamilton struggled to get past Verstappen Vettel pitted on lap 22 and as he exited the pits found himself ahead of Hamilton who was still behind Verstappen. When Hamilton eventually got past Verstappen Vettel was too far ahead for Hamilton to mount a challenge.
In the past Hamilton would have been able to use the superior speed of his Mercedes to catch and pass the Ferrari but Ferrari no longer have the inferior car. In Vettel’s hands they Ferrari have seized back Formula One and have taken the fight directly too Mercedes.
Mercedes new boy Valtteri Bottas finished a strong third, not far behind Hamilton at the closing stages of the race and Kimi Raikkonen claimed a distant fourth for Ferrari. All in all Ferrari have at last made good on their strong pre-season form.
Mercedes and Hamilton have to shake off the shock of finally being roundly beaten by another team. Of all the statistics thrown around by F1 commentators one stands out more than any other, it is this, the driver who wins the opening race of the season ends up wining the championship.
Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, 2017 Race Results
|5||33||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||57||+28.827s||10|
|7||11||Force India Mercedes||56||+1 lap||6|
|8||55||Toro Rosso||56||+1 lap||4|
|9||26||Toro Rosso||56||+1 lap||2|
|10||31||Force India Mercedes||56||+1 lap||1|
|12||36||Sauber Ferrari||55||+2 laps||0|
|13||2||McLaren Honda||55||+2 laps||0|
|NC||3||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||25||DNF||0|