Vettel sneaks Aussie GP winposted in F125 | 03 | 2018

    LEWIS HAMILTON MISSED out on what should have been a dominant win in the opening grand prix of the season when his Mercedes team suffered a software glitch. The error allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to sneak the win.

    Hamilton had been dominant in Satuday’s qualifying, and through the opening stint of the race, comfortably leading from pole position.

    But he was leapfrogged by the later-stopping Vettel during a mid-race Virtual Safety Car period initiated to help marshals retrieve Romain Grosjean's Haas.

    Hamilton was understandably baffled about how he had lost the lead after not being warned beforehand that he was in any danger of doing so. Afterwards, Mercedes admitted it believed a software programming issue meant it was not made aware of the threat that Vettel had posed.

    "We thought we had about a three-second margin, so we need to ask the computers, and that is what we are doing at the moment," Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said.

    Hamilton-trophy.jpg

    "If we have a software problem somewhere we have to fix it. I think the problem is within our system. Fifteen seconds is what you need and we had 12, which we thought was enough but it wasn't."

    Vettel ran third in the opening stint but ran longer than his team-mate, second-placed Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton. But the German benefited hugely from a caution period just before he was due to pit.

    Despite Hamilton hounding Vettel for much of the remainder of the race, his assault essentially ended when he ran off-track in the closing laps. The Englishman backed off allowing Vettel to win by 5.9s, Raikkonen took third.

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    While Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo stormed trough from eighth on the grid to finish fourth, there was futsrtaion for team-mate Max Verstappen.

    The Dutchman, who lined up fourth on the grid, slipped behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen at Turn 1. Unable to get passed, Verstappen then began compiling his car was struggling with overheated rear tyres.

    A few laps later, he spun in dramatic fashion at Turn 1, dropping him to eighth. He recovered though to finish sixth, behind the McLaren of Fernando Alonso in the team’s first grand prix with Renault engines.

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    But while there was delight in the McLaren camp, further boosted by Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne finishing ninth, there was abject misery and disbelief at Haas. In the space of two laps, the team saw both its cars — which had been comfortably running in the top six — retire from the race with the same problem: wrongly fitted wheels at the pitstops.

    First Magnussen ground to a halt at Turn 3 after his left rear wheel was not correctly fitted. Minutes later, team-mate Romain Grosjean suffered a similar fate on the next lap when a problem on his front left led to the Frenchman pulling over on the left-hand side on the exit of Turn 1 immediately.

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    The US-based team subsequently admitted both problems were “human errors”, pointing to the fact the team had not had sufficient time to practice.

    "This weekend was very tense for us,” team principal Gunther Steiner said. “We had some issues in FP1, FP2, we didn't have a lot of spares, so we didn't do a lot of pitstop practice, and that could be one of the reasons.

    "It was just a bad pitstop. The wheelnut got on wrong and it was cross-threaded. We couldn't catch it early enough.

    "You work in a 2.5s window to do this and we were very unlucky. We had on the wheelgun the same guys as last year, which never missed it, so it is one of these things.

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    "We need to work harder on it; more practice. When we get to Bahrain start as quick as possible practice there and the guys can boost their confidence."

    While Nico Hulkenberg had a quiet, efficient run to seventh place for Renault, gradually closing down on Alonso and Verstappen, in the closing laps, the recovering Valtteri Bottas finished eighth.

    The Finn was forced to start from 15th on the grid after his high-speed crash in Saturday’s qualifying, and the Mercedes driver’s fightback was boosted by the retirement of the two Haas cars.

    The final point went to the second Renault of Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard held off the Force India of Sergio Perez despite  suffering from nausea in the final third of the race.

    Formula 1 — Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne (Result):

    1. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari 58 laps, 1hr 29m 33.283s

    2. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +5.036s

    3. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari +6.309s

    4. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Aston Martin Red Bull Racing +7.069s

    5. Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team +27.886s

    6. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing +28.945s

    7. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team +32.671s

    8. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport +34.339s

    9. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team +34.921s

    10. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Renault Sport Formula One Team +45.722s

    11. Sergio Perez MEX Sahara Force India F1 Team +46.817s

    12. Esteban Ocon FRA Sahara Force India F1 Team +1m 00.278s

    13. Charles Leclerc MON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team +1m 15.759s

    14. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing +1m 18.288s

    15. Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda +1 lap

    Retired

    Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team 24 laps

    Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team 22 laps

    Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda 13 laps

    Sergey Sirotkin RUS Williams Martini Racing 5 laps

    Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team 4 laps

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    Jim McGill

     

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