A rejuvenated Valterri Bottas wins the Australian GP for Mercedes, some 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen as season-favourites, Ferrari, finish nearly a minute behind the race winning Mercedes.
1.Hamilton 2.Bottas 3.Vettel 4.Verstappen 5.Leclerc 6.Grosjean 7.Magnussen 8.Norris 9.Raikkonen 10.Perez 11.Hulkenberg 12.Ricciardo 13.Albon 14.Giovinazzi 15.Kvyat 16.Stroll 17.Gasly 18.Sainz Jr 19.Russell 20.Kubica
Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat, Pierre Gasly and George Russell will start the race on the yellow-marked Medium tyre. Robert Kubica will start on the white-marked Hard tyre while everyone else will start on the red-marked Soft tyre.
It’s lights out and away we go for the first time in 2019. It’s a great start by Valterri Bottas who gets a better start than Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and the Finn leads down to Turn 1. Behind, Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo loses his front after having to take to the grass trying to overtake Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. Ricciardo pits at the end of lap 1 onto the Medium tyre and is out behind Williams Robert Kubica, who lost his front wing as well in a separate incident.
Lap 3, it’s been a good start by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg who is now 8th and McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr who is now in 14th. Valterri Bottas continues to lead with a 1.2 second gap back to Lewis Hamilton, who is ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. Haas’s Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean have swapped places in the Dane’s favour with the American team in 6th an 7th. Lap 6, Bottas has extended his gap at the front to 2 seconds. Lap 8, Bottas’s lead is now up to 2.7 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Vettel is now 5.3 seconds behind Bottas in 3rd with Leclerc in 5th, 9.8 seconds behind Bottas.
Lap 9, Charles Leclerc runs wide at turn 1 and now falls to 13.5 seconds behind race-leader Valterri Bottas. Lap 10, Lewis Hamilton seems to be managing his tyres as the gap to team-mate Bottas, has gone up to 3.5 seconds. Lap 11, Carlos Sainz Jr is out as there is smoke bellowing from the rear of his McLaren. He pulls into the pits and stops before the pit-limiter activation. He becomes the first retirement of this 2019 season. Will this worry engine supplier Renault? Lap 13, Kimi Raikkonen pits for Alfa Romeo. He goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 16th place.
Lap 14, Nico Hulkenberg responds and pits for Renault. He goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins ahead of Raikkonen in 14th. Sergio Perez also pits and rejoins in 17th on the Hard tyre. Lap 15, Sebastian Vettel pits from 3rd. The German goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 6th. Kevin Magnussen also pits and goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins ahead of Hulkenberg. Lap 16, Lewis Hamilton pits from 2nd, goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 4th. Romain Grosjean also pits but its a slow pit-stop for the Haas team, he rejoins in 14th, behind his main rivals.
Lap 18, Sebastian Vettel, having previously setting the fastest lap, is now under 2 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton who is struggling on these new tyres. Antonio Giovinazzi makes a mistakes and runs wide at turn 13 which allows Kevin Magnussen past. Nico Hulkenberg, using DRS, manages to get past the Italian driver before turn 1 with Kimi Raikkonen overtaking his team-mate before turn 2. Lap 21, race leader, Valterri Bottas is yet to pit but is continuing to set very good lap times. He’s not going to be under pressure from team-mate Hamilton as he is still trying to get to grips with his new tyres. He’s also got Vettel for company as well just 1.7 seconds behind. Lap 22, McLaren’s Lando Norris is struggling to get past Giovinazzi in the battle for 12th and 13th. Romain Grosjean is waiting behind in 14th and ready to pounce.
Lap 23, Valterri Bottas pits from the lead, goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 2nd – way ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Max Verstappen now leads but is yet to pit – its the same story for Charles Leclerc in 3rd. Lap 25, Verstappen pits from the lead. He goes onto the Medium tyre and rejoins in 5th behind Vettel in 4th. Lap 26, Lando Norris is able to find a gap to squeeze down the inside of Antonio Giovinazzi of turn 3 for 12th. Later on in the lap, Romain Grosjean overtakes the Italian for 13th down the inside of turn 13. Sergio Perez has also managed to get past on the next lap at turn 1 for 14th. Daniil Kvyat makes his first pit-stop and manages to come out ahead of Norris in 11th. Lap 28, Giovinazzi pits, it’s a slow pit-stop for Alfa Romeo as the Italian rejoins in 17th on the Soft tyre.
Race leader, Charles Leclerc pits. The Ferrari debutant goes onto the Hard tyre and rejoins in 5th. Valterri Bottas takes over the race lead once again and the gap to team-mate Lewis Hamilton in 2nd, 16 seconds. Pierre Gasly, in 6th, is the only driver to make their first pit-stop. Lap 31, Max Verstappen is now pressuring Sebastian Vettel as the go side-by-side down into turn 3. Verstappen on the outside manages to overtake the Ferrari driver for 3rd. Renault decide to retire Daniel Ricciardo with Romain Grosjean also pulling over and retiring for Haas on lap 32. Can Verstappen now close on Hamilton in 2nd?
Lap 33, Valterri Bottas still continues to lead with the gap to Lewis Hamilton now grown to 18 seconds. Max Verstappen is 3rd ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc. Pierre Gasly is 6th, yet to pit, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Lance Stroll completes the top 10. Lap 34, Verstappen is now with 1.5 seconds of Hamilton. A replay shows that a loose left-front tyre was the cause for Romain Grosjean’s retirement. Daniil Kvyat is closing up to the back of Stroll in 10th and 11th and the pair are not far behind Raikkonen in 9th. After trying to overtake Stroll down the inside of turn 3, Kvyat runs wide across the gravel and has lost a lot of time to the Racing Point driver. Lap 38, Gasly makes his first pit-stop, goes onto the Soft tyre and rejoins ahead of Kvyat, although Kvyat overtakes Gasly round the outside at turn 3 for 10th.
Lap 41, Valterri Bottas has extended his lead to 22 seconds with Lewis Hamilton having to keep Max Verstappen at bay in 2nd and 3rd. After setting 2 fastest laps, Bottas’s gap has grown to 24 seconds. He’s just having fun now isn’t he! With 15 laps to go, Sebastian Vettel in 4th, is now over 30 seconds behind Bottas and is under pressure with team-mate Charles Leclerc closing down. Lap 45, Verstappen is still very close behind Hamilton with the gap around 1.4 seconds. Lap 47, Leclerc is now under 4 seconds behind Vettel – the gap was 12 seconds just 12 laps ago.
With 10 laps to go, Nico Hulkenberg currently holds 7th place but Kimi Raikkonen, Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly as close behind. Max Verstappen runs wide at turn 1 and has fallen to 3.4 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton – game over? Apparently not, the Dutchman closes on the next lap to 3 seconds. Lap 50, Valterri Bottas leads by 25 seconds as Charles Leclerc is less than a second behind Sebastian Vettel in 4th and 5th. Lap 51, Verstappen is now 2.3 seconds behind Hamilton, the game is on! Lap 55, Verstappen now claims the fastest lap, much to Bottas’s annoyance but he is lapping drivers. The Dutchman is now just a second behind Hamilton.
Onto the final lap, Valterri Bottas reclaims the fastest lap as he starts the final lap. The Finn wins the Australian GP, his 4th victory, with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, 20.8 seconds behind, in 2nd with Max Verstappen in 3rd. The Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc finish a distant 4th and 5th. Bottas also take home the Fans “Driver of the Day” and the bonus point for the Fastest Lap Award.
- Valterri Bottas, Mercedes, 58 Laps
- Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, +20.886s
- Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing Honda, +22.520s
- Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, +57.109s
- Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, +58.230s
- Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, +87.156s
- Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, + 1 Lap
- Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
- Lance Stroll, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
- Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
- Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing Honda, + 1 Lap
- Lando Norris, McLaren Renault, + 1 Lap
- Sergio Perez, Racing Point BWT Mercedes, + 1 Lap
- Alexander Albon, Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda, + 1 Lap
- Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari, + 1 Lap
- George Russell, Williams Mercedes, + 2 Laps
- Robert Kubica, Williams Mercedes, + 3 Laps
- Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, DNF
- Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, DNF
- Carlos Sainz Jr, McLaren Renault, DNF