F1: Ferrari (NYSE:RACE) Wins the Season Opener ‘Down Under’
Ferrari’s (NYSE:RACE) Sebastian Vettel took advantage of a virtual safety car to win the 2018 F1 Australian Grand Prix for his 3rd win down under.
Mr. Vettel beat defending world champion Lewis Hamilton to the Chequered Flag, taking the lead after the 2 Haas cars retired bringing on the virtual safety car.
Mr. Hamilton and his MercedesAMG had been leading to that point but could do little once Mr. Vettel dove into the pits.
Under virtual safety car rules, positions are fixed on track, but those rules do not apply to the pit lane, and Mr. Vettel emerged in the front after his stop.
Frustrated, Red Bull’s 2nd driver, Max Verstappen took a few too many risks trying to get past Mr. Magnussen and spun out as a result, losing positions to team-mate Ricciardo and Romain Grosjean of Haas.
After early retirements from Williams and Sauber, Toro Rosso were next to run into issues, as Pierre Gasly lost all pace and had smoke coming from his engine.
Ferrari’s Kiki Raikkonen made the switch to the soft tires and easily returned to the track ahead of the Haas duo, while Mr. Hamilton covered immediately, leaving Mr. Vettel in the lead.
Haas was very impressive until Mr. Magnussen left the pit lane and immediately lost all pace. While he spoke of a suspension issue over the radio, replays confirmed the team failed to properly fit 1 of his wheels during the stop.
Just mins later, Mr. Grosjean retired as well, bringing out the virtual safety car.
At the front, Mr. Vettel’s tactic to stay out longer paid off in a big way, as he used the virtual safety car to keep the lead even after his pit stop.
The Scuderia played the rules perfectly, to the disbelief of Mr. Hamilton, who was shocked that he lost the virtual lead.
The actual safety car came out shortly after, giving fans the chance to launch into the 1st conspiracy theories of the year.
With Haas running Ferrari engines, tactical theorists came forward saying the fix was in.
If that were not enough, there was more controversy in the air, where Mr. Verstappen appeared to pass Mr. Alonso, as the latter left the pit lane, but to that Mr. Verstappen gained nothing on Mr. Alonso,
Racing resumed at the end of Lap 31 with Mr. Hamilton right on Mr. Vettel’s lights, but the Ferrari on fresh tires held the lead, with Mr. Raikkonen just behind Mr. Hamilton.
The with just 10 laps to run, Mr. Hamilton made a move, but locked up, losing his racing line on Turn 9 and precious time. Thus, giving Mr. Vettel a solid lead over Mr. Hamilton, keeping him out of the DRS zone for a time and the battle for the Chequered Flag was over, he had to settle for 2nd place.
Mr. Raikkonen came in 3rd
Bahrain will host the 2nd race of the season on 8 April.
Have terrific week
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