Australian Grand Prix: Four talking points

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

Sebastian Vettel clinched victory in the season opener on Sunday thanks to a bit of good fortune as Ferrari took advantage of the Virtual Safety Car to edge in front of Lewis Hamilton’ Mercedes.

It topped an action-packed race weekend that was full of incident and left us with lots to talk ahead of the next round in Bahrain in two weeks time.

FOX Sports Asia takes a look at four of the main talking points from Albert Park.

Mercedes down but not out

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton were rightly disappointed after a tactical blunder cost Mercedes the win in Melbourne, but they shouldn’t be too disheartened. The reigning champion and his car did more than enough to prove that they have every chance to repeat last season’s double driver and constructors championship wins, despite Hamilton beng unable to pass his Ferrari rival on a track notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities.

The fact that Hamilton was a full half second ahead of his rivals in qualifying and had looked more than comfortable up until the Virtual Safety Car fiasco should be enough to worry their rivals and means the Silver Arrows will be keen to hit back in Bahrain. Expect a strong response.

Red Bull still to show hand

A lot of talk in the build up to Melbourne focused on Red Bull and the pace that they have this year, although TV viewers and spectators at Albert Park never got a chance to witness it as Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were stuck in traffic for the majority of the race. On the one occasion Ricciardo managed to get free he set the fastest lap of the race. Christian Horner pointed to this in his post race comments, which means that Toto Wolff’s predictions of a three-horse race this season may still come true. Maybe Bahrain will provide some answers?

Back to basics for Haas

They may have ended the race with two retirements and no points, but events in Melbourne showed great promise for Haas. Kevin Magnussen was performing brilliantly in fourth position after passing both Red Bulls on the start while Romain Grosjean was in fifth position when disaster struck as pit-stop mistakes saw both cars retire within minutes of each other with cross-threaded wheels nuts. It was a terrible end to the race for a team that has been identified as a dark horse this season. Still, their relative performance before the costly errors will give the Americans high hopes for the rest of the season. Now they just need to do the basics properly.

New engine suits McLaren

The switch from Honda to Renault engines seems to have worked wonders for McLaren, as Fernando Alonso grabbed fifth place while Stoffel Vandoorne contributed two points in ninth. It marked a startling contrast to last year when Alonso retired and Vandoorne ended the race two laps back.

The team may have downplayed expectations ahead of Melbourne, but the MCL33 performed well around Albert Park. If the British team can continue to improve the chassis then more points and even a few podiums could be in the offing this season.

Stream every F1 race live on the FOX+ app and catch up on highlights of any action you’ve missed. For more info on FOX+ click here
In Singapore, subscribe to FOX+ through Singtel and StarHub.
In Hong Kong, subscribe to FOX+ through Now TV.