Lewis Hamilton was left frustrated with his team during the Australian Grand Prix after a virtual safety car allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to take the lead in the first pit stop window.
Hamilton led from pole after coming under pressure from Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap but during the first pit stop window on lap 25 Haas, who had been running in 4th and 5th, failed to put the front left wheel on correctly after their crew suffered a wheel gun failure forcing both cars to stop on track.
This brought about a virtual safety car meaning all the cars have to slow down to safety car speeds without the car being released on track. Vettel took this opportunity to pit meaning he lost little time on track – leaving Hamilton going at safety car pace the four time World Champion was able to leap frog the Brit.
A frustrated Hamilton took to team radio. He said: “What just happened guys? Why didn’t you tell me Vettel was in the pits?” It seemed to shock Mercedes who had no answer except they were reviewing what happened – Leaving Hamilton wondering if he was in the wrong.
At the restart on lap 31 Hamilton was left chasing Vettel as Max Verstappen, who had damage after a spin while chasing the Haas of Kevin Magnussen early on, took Nico Hulkenburg for 6th.
After 15 laps of staring at the back end of the Ferrari, Hamilton was pleading with the team to let him try and over-take. Asking “Can I push yet? You know how much you want it – Come on” before just saying “I’m going for it”. But a mistake on the next lap at turn nine allowed the German to increase the gap by 1.7 seconds.
In the remaining 11 laps Vettel was able to extend his lead to nearly six seconds as Ferrari took the chequered flag. Repeating last years performance of taking the first race win. Hamilton came home second with Raikkonen finishing off the podium. Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a strong finish from Fernando Alonso in fifth.
F1 returns in two weeks with the Bahrain GP on April 8 but Broad Sport will continue to bring reviews and insights from the first race of the season at Albert Park.