Depending on who you are the headline post the completion of the 2019 Australian GP would read differently. If you are a Ferrari fan, you’d find nothing remotely prancing about the Prancing Horse. If you are a Lewis Hamilton fan, you’d find no mention of the following on the team radio, “Lewis, you are the man, ” or, “Get in there, Lewis!” But if you were a fan of a figure at Mercedes who sadly cut a sorry face in 2018, then you couldn’t have been happier.
But that said, who would’ve expected given Lewis’s menacing form- having bagged his 83rd pole yesterday- to read the following headline?
Bottas wins 2019 Australian GP
In so doing, the Finn not only took the tally of his wins to 4, bagged the opening race of the 2019 F1 season, but also kept Lewis Hamilton, the familiar figure at the front of the grid behind the tail of car number 77.
In making a stellar opening move right inside the opening lap of the 58-lap contest, Bottas, starting ahead of third-placed Vettel pushed Hamilton behind and would not budge under any circumstance.
In so doing, while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen moved up to third, a place he’d hold onto eventually, thus bagging his sixth consecutive podium (including statistics from the 2018 season), he’d ensure Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had no place on the podium.
While Vettel, who began from third and couldn’t do more than P4, it can’t be said that Charles Leclerc, driving his maiden race for the Scuderia finished that bad.
Would you term a P5 finish for a Ferrari first-timer as a poor run?
While on pure talent, the young Frenchman, Raikkonen’s replacement at the Italian stable managed 10 strong points, what may not exactly bring a smile to the Tifosi would be the absence of Red on the top three.
Ricciardo loses front wing
That said, it wasn’t that great a race for midfielders who could’ve potentially fought for fighting positions at the end such as Daniel Ricciardo. The local boy, an eternal favorite among both paddock birds, experts and viewers, Daniel Ricciardo had an underwhelming start to the 2019 F1 season as his car ran into mechanical malfunction, thus forcing him to retire.
It’s not too hard to note why the media has already branded the ‘Honeybadger’s’ Renault career as an ‘absolute shocker.’ This is following Daniel forcing his way onto the grass at Albert Park within seconds from the start (in a failed bid to pass Peres), it doesn’t seem very sensible to cast doubts on his form or simply undermine his presence in a team where he’s only just begun.
Bottas takes flight
Meanwhile, right from the start of moving to the lead of the race, Bottas exerted muscle and flair and proved too heavy a roadblock for teammate Hamilton to remove.
He would immediately show indications of Mercedes’ familiar pace in going the fastest all throughout. By Lap 38, Bottas set a screamer at 1.27.108, which, he’d better 4 laps later, going exceedingly fast at 1:27:043.
The likes of Hulkenberg at Renault and the two Haas cars of Grosjean and Magnussen proved hard for the likes of Carlos Sainz and Raikkonen of McLaren to catch.
But that said, it wasn’t too late into the Grand Prix as Haas’ Grosjean retired owing to problems with his Haas, leading to the 32-year-old register a DNF, not the best way to start the year.
Carlos Sainz Jr., whose McLaren, quite like teammate Lando Norris’ during the qualifying looked solid and sturdy ran into problems with his MGU-K and would retire as well.
Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, persisted
In starting from ninth, Raikkonen pitted early, on lap 14 and dropped down to 16 before making his way up closer to the top ten, aided by others’ stops.
He’d eventually finish on P8, a place above his qualifying effort, which would mean 2 points for Alfa Romeo’s 2019-opening campaign with Giovinazi failing to better his eventual position, a forgettable P15.
While some thrilling moments of the race (although none for the likes of Ricciardo didn’t have any) did come in the form of Verstappen’s brilliant move on Sebastian Vettel around Turn 2 of the race Down Under, the finest performance was undoubtedly Valtteri Bottas’.
It wasn’t too hard to understand why Bottas had shared prior to the start of the season-opener as to why he was so keen to beat ‘everyone’ this year for in 2018, it didn’t exactly inspire to note he’d endured a winless run in 2018, what remains to be seen is whether Bottas can convert a fine start into multiple wins to follow?
With 26 points, the understated Finn is right on top in a performance which is second to none since Lewis Hamilton was easily expected to have polished off his teammate.
That said, can Ferrari regain the lost spark that one hardly saw at F1?
Only time will tell.