What the Australian Grand Prix told us about the season ahead

F1 Grand Prix of Australia

Valtteri Bottas secured his first grand prix win since Abu Dhabi in 2017 as Mercedes locked out the first two steps on the podium in Australia.

The Finn flew past Lewis Hamilton into the first corner in Melbourne and cantered to his fourth career victory – adding in a bonus point for the fastest lap to boot.

Here, we look at five things we have learned from the season-opener.

Strong as a horse?

The suggestion that Ferrari had the fastest car based on winter testing was met with scepticism and, based on performance here, the sceptics were right.

The Prancing Horse was never at the races with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc qualifying at least 0.7 seconds behind the Mercedes of Hamilton and their pace throughout the 58 laps did not trouble the front-runners.

The four-time world champion Vettel finished nearly a minute down which will be a wake-up call heading into Bahrain.

Honda helps Bulls charge

McLaren may have paid a sizeable amount to ditch Honda after blaming the Japanese manufacturer for their failings in recent years, but the Red Bull of Max Verstappen showed Honda could have what it takes to compete.

F1 Grand Prix of Australia

The Dutchman gave the firm its first podium finish in just under 11 years, the last one coming at the British Grand Prix in 2008, after he passed Vettel and went on to mount a serious challenge to Hamilton in second.

Renault oh no

The manufacturer came into the weekend accepting there was a “huge gap ahead” to reach the top three, but they were on the journey.

As such, Daniel Ricciardo would have been hoping to start the campaign on a strong foot but could only manage 12th on the grid with his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg one place ahead.

Worse was to come for the Australian, with a brief skip across the grass on the opening straight leading to the loss of his front wing which ultimately led to a retirement after 28 laps.

Far from Finnish-ed

Mercedes kept the faith with the Hamilton-Bottas pairing for the third straight season despite the Finn not winning a race in the 2018 campaign, and he proved his worth at Albert Park.

His start merited P1 going into the first corner and he just motored on from there, avoiding any dramas and steadily progressing to take the flag by 20 seconds.

Lapping it up

Reaction to the reintroduction of the point for the fastest lap was varied, but it did provide a late bit of drama after it became apparent which three men would find themselves having a champagne shower.

Verstappen may have said his late burst of speed was more an attempt to catch Hamilton than earn an extra championship point, but it did add some extra spice as the race reached its conclusion and could do the same for the season as a whole.

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