Mercedes Petronas AMG driver Nico Rosberg took the first win of the Formula 1 2016 season during the first race in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday. The German driver had to settle for second place during qualifying, but that apparently did not deter him from emerging ahead of his teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The start was rough for both of the Mercedes drivers. They were at the front of the grid during the starting line but soon as the lights went out, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel came charging to the front to immediately take the lead from both of them. Meanwhile, it also did not take long for Vettel’s teammate Kimi Raikonnen to emerge from the outside to also overtake the two Mercedes.
The race in Melbourne was filled with thrilling action and heart-stopping accidents too. For starters, the Redbull off Daniil Kvyat caused yellow flags to be waved even before the race began as his car stopped on the grid while the other cars did their warm-up laps. The cars had to lap again as Kvyat’s car gets taken back to the pit lane. And then, came a crash involving McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Haas Racing’s Esteban Gutierrez.
During lap 18, Alonso ended up clipping Gutierrez’s left rear as both cars approached Turn 3. However, the contact was enough to cause Alonso’s McLaren to hit the wall before the car went airborne as it barreled across the gravel trap. Alonso ended up sitting by the barrier for a few moments before he got himself up. Meanwhile, Gutierrez rushed out of the car and made his way towards Alonso to see if he was okay. Both drivers managed to walk away from accident. Yellow flags were initially issued following the incident, but the red flag was soon raised due to the severity of the incident and amount of debris on the track. It took a 20-minute break to clear the field of debris.
When the race restarted, Ferrari found the lead slipping away from them after adapting the wrong race strategy decision. Both of their car were using supersoft tires, which meant they had to stop again. Meanwhile, Mercedes decided to put on mediums, allowing them to run their cars toward the end. This cost Ferrari a possible 1-2 victory.
Nonetheless, Ferrari also soon found out that Raikonnen’s car couldn’t make it all the way to the checkered flag after all. After race, Raikonnen said his car lost power, forcing him to retire. Meanwhile, Vettel went to claim the third place. Prior to crossing the checkered flag, the Ferrari driver also made it difficult for Hamilton to challenge Rosberg who had taken the lead. Hamilton ended up settling for second place.
Following the race, Vettel said, “I think there is nothing really to complain and be sad about! We’ve been really close to winning.”