Front to back: the Australian Grand Prix

How every team and every driver fared at the F1 season-opener in Melbourne.


Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 1st, finished 2nd
Nico Rosberg: qualified 2nd, finished 1st
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A fifth straight 1-2 finish for the Silver Arrows dating back to last year, and Rosberg’s fourth straight win since Hamilton wrapped up the 2015 title in Austin. Poor starts by both drivers saw them back in the pack, but an inspired choice to run medium-compound tyres after the red flag period was a masterstroke. Still the benchmark.

Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 3rd, finished 3rd
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 4th, did not finish
Vettel ambushed the Mercedes drivers after their tardy getaways, and Raikkonen jumped to second after Rosberg squeezed Hamilton at Turn 1. The decision to run Vettel on supersofts after the red flag condemned the German to another pit stop and ruined any chance of a win, while Raikkonen ran strongly before a turbo failure on lap 22.

Felipe Massa:
qualified 6th, finished 5th
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 11th, finished 8th
A low-key start for the boys and girls at Grove. Massa started strongly but was a lonely fifth by the end, more than half a minute behind Ricciardo in fourth, and Bottas had a quiet race after being pushed back five spots for a gearbox change following qualifying. Room for improvement.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 8th, finished 4th
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 18th, did not finish
Ricciardo’s best-ever result at his home Grand Prix came after the race-pace he felt is inherent in the RB12 chassis sprung to life in the Melbourne sunshine, and fastest lap of the race on lap 49 was a nice reward. Kvyat’s afternoon was more miserable – for the second straight year, his car broke down en route to the grid with an electronics gremlin. Australia’s a long way to come for no laps in two years …

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 10th, finished 7th
Sergio Perez: qualified 9th, finished 13th
Hulkenberg made a jack-rabbit start to launch past Ricciardo but could never really make his free tyre choice for starting just outside Q3 work, while Perez battled fading brakes late on a circuit that requires some big stops and fell outside the points. Would have expected more.

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 14th, finished 11th
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 15th, finished 12th
Palmer didn’t look overawed at all on his F1 debut and finished seven seconds outside the points, while Magnussen’s chance of sneaking into the top 10 was scuppered with a first-lap puncture and subsequent crawl back to the pits.

Toro Rosso
Max Verstappen:
qualified 5th, finished 10th
Carlos Sainz: qualified 7th, finished 9th
It was fitting the Toro Rosso stablemates finished line-astern, as they spent much of the race squabbling no matter where in the top 10 they were. Verstappen’s frustrations with being behind Sainz for the majority of the race were made plainly obvious over the radio, while for this day at least, Sainz had the last laugh. Just three points after both drivers qualified in the top seven was a touch underwhelming.

Felipe Nasr:
qualified 17th, finished 15th
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 16th, did not finish
The euphoria of a two-car finish in last year’s race in Melbourne was forgotten as Sauber had a tough Sunday at Albert Park. Fifth on debut in Australia last year, Nasr toiled towards the back for the majority of the race, while Ericsson’s day ended on lap 40, his race already ruined after his mechanics were still working on his car after the 15-second signal before the restart following the red flag, which earned him a drive-through penalty.

Fernando Alonso:
qualified 12th, did not finish
Jenson Button: qualified 13th, finished 14th
Rosberg may have won the race, but Alonso was the biggest winner on Sunday after his terrifying crash with Gutierrez on lap 18, his McLaren somersaulting into the Turn 3 gravel trap. Remarkably, both drivers walked away. “You are not exactly aware where you are,” said Alonso afterwards, adding “you are just flying and then you see the sky, the ground, the sky, the ground and you don’t know.” We don’t know how he emerged unscathed, but we’re glad he did. Three-time Australian GP winner Button finished outside of the points in Melbourne for the second straight year, but McLaren showed signs of some improvement to start 2016.

Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 22nd, finished 16th
Rio Haryanto: qualified 21st, did not finish
The two rookies endured a baptism of fire in Melbourne, with Wehrlein the final classified finisher, and Haryanto not making it back for the re-start of the race with a driveline problem. Add a three-place grid penalty for the Indonesian for crashing into the Haas of Romain Grosjean in the pit lane in third practice, and Australia was a weekend the team would be pleased to see the back of.

Romain Grosjean:
qualified 19th, finished 6th
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 20th, did not finish
The other big winners from the weekend. Gutierrez was fortunate to walk away after the scary shunt with Alonso, while sixth for Grosjean (after a no-stop strategy – the Frenchman changed tyres in the red flag period and nursed them to the end) was the first points for a new team on debut since Toyota in Melbourne in 2002. Kudos too for the best hashtag of the race weekend – #haastralia


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