Bottas wins season-opening Australian Grand Prix

Chennai: Mercedes enjoyed a brilliant start to the season as Valtteri Bottas emerged victorious with a dominant display in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix today.

Valtteri Bottas enjoyed a sensational start to his year, leading home team-mate Lewis Hamilton for a Mercedes one-two ahead of the Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Bottas finished the race 21 seconds clear of the field, and even claimed a bonus point for the fastest lap of the race to come away from Albert Park with a full 26 points.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had to be content with a fourth place finish, one place up from his team mate Charles Leclerc, whose attack was called off to keep the German close on heels with Hamilton.

However it was a distatrous race for home hero Daniel Ricciardo who started his Renault career in a horrible fashion. He was forced to retired midway through the race after he lost his front wing when he drifted off the track in the opening seconds.

Ricciardo wasn’t the only driver to bow out early as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz became the first casualty of the year when flames started sprouting from the back of his car after 11 laps.

Winner Valtteri Bottas started second on the grid and overtook Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on the opening lap and never looked back, staying clear of the pack for the remainder of the race. At one stage he led Hamilton by 25 seconds and was never in danger of being chased down as he eventually finished 21 seconds clear of his colleague.

Bottas’s win came as a surprise, especially after Hamilton blitzed the field in qualifying and secured pole position. Bottas himself was shocked with the result, telling Sky Sports F1 pundit and former driver Martin Brundle, “I don’t know what just happened. I don’t know what to say, it was definitely my best race ever. I felt so good and the car was so good.”

Hamilton was in a positive mood despite being overshadowed by Bottas, saying he was happy to contribute to a good weekend for Mercedes. He didn’t blame anyone else for being overtaken in the first lap, saying he just needed to work on his starts.

“A good weekend for the team so I have to be happy for everyone, Bottas drove an incredible race today. It’s a great start to the year. It was frustrating on the start but that’s how the game goes,” he said.

NT Bureau