Sebastian Vettel drove an expert race Sunday to win the 2017 Australian Grand Prix, kicking off the 2017 season in the best possible way for Scuderia Ferrari.
Mercedes-AMG Petronas drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valteri Bottas rounded out the podium, finishing second and third, respectively. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen finished where he qualified in fourth, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen completed the top five. Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race on Lap 28 with engine trouble.
Hamilton assumed an early lead after the field got through Turn 1 completely unscathed – likely to the surprise of many fans. Vettel followed with Bottas in tow until Hamilton tried to get the undercut on Vettel and pitted from the lead on Lap 18. Now running in clean air, Vettel was able to pull out a 23-second gap on Hamilton, pitting on Lap 24 and exiting the pits just ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen.
After the first and only round of pit stops from the race leaders, Vettel led Hamilton with Bottas behind. Bottas started to gain on Hamilton in the race’s closing stages until he camp upon lapped traffic and began losing ground. Raikkonen complained of a car difficult to handle and was never a true contender for the podium but managed to easily keep Verstappen at bay.
With Hamilton unable to reel Vettel in, the German drove to his first win since Singapore 2015 and put Ferrari in the Constructors Championship lead for the first time in the hybrid era. We’ll find out if the Scuderia can hold or extend that lead when F1 heads to China for the second round of the 2017 season on the first weekend of April.
Click here for full results from Australia.