Valtteri Bottas wins the F1 Australian Grand Prix for Mercedes, as Daniel Ricciardo goes out on lap 31

Updated March 17, 2019 18:19:13

Valtteri Bottas has completed a comfortable win in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park, while local fans were left to lament as Daniel Ricciardo had a horror start to his Renault career.

Bottas took over the season-opening race early on from Mercedes teammate and pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton, and the Finn never looked back, going on to win by 20.886 seconds.

Ricciardo’s race was in trouble from the very start — as he tried to make ground on the inside seconds after the green light, his front wing snapped when he went off track on the home straight.

The Australian limped around to the pits for a first stop after just one lap. He emerged more than a minute behind the leaders, and never got any closer.

He was lapped by the leaders just 18 laps into the race, and although he continued on for some time, he was making no inroads.

His day ended on lap 31, as the Renault team decided to retire Ricciardo’s car as a precaution.

Good tyre conservation meant that Bottas was able to stay out seven laps longer than Hamilton, and after a straightforward pit stop, he held a substantial lead for the rest of the race.

“I don’t know what just happened,” Bottas said post-race, after letting loose an expletive over race radio.

“I don’t know what to say. The start was very good.

“It was definitely my best race ever.”

Ferrari had been buoyed with some speed in early practice sessions, but the Mercedes team had got the jump in final qualifying, and Sebastian Vettel’s challenge faded as the race went on — he finished nearly a minute back in fourth.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen made a charge through the field and looked set to catch Hamilton for second, but a miscalculation on a corner lost him time and he had to content himself with the third step of the podium.

Spanish driver Carlos Sainz was a dramatic non-finisher, as a spark set the back of his McLaren car on fire on lap 11 — smoke and fire spread, and he was forced to quickly pull over and stop before getting out safely.

Haas driver Romain Grosjean was travelling well for much of the race, but he was out of the race on lap 34, following a number of problems with the front left suspension and tyre.

Look back on the action from Albert Park as it happened in our blog.

Topics: sport, motor-sports, formula-1, australia, vic, albert-park-3206, melbourne-3000

First posted March 17, 2019 12:15:54

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