Formula One (F1)

Sebastian Vettel starts 2017 season with a bang taking Australian Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton

Ferrari driver wins opening race of the 2017 season with a dominant victory over the Mercedes duo

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 2:37pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 March, 2017, 3:19pm

Sebastian Vettel broke Ferrari’s Formula One drought with a victory over Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on Sunday at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari hadn’t won an F1 GP since Vettel’s victory in Singapore in 2015, while Mercedes dominated in 2016.

“It’s a long, long way ahead. For now, we’re just over the moon,” four-time world champion Vettel said. “It’s been a hard winter, and an incredible race today. We’re here, we’re here to fight.”

With new regulations designed to make the cars faster this season, Vettel proved Ferrari’s extra pace in pre-season testing was genuine.

For the second year running, Hamilton started on pole position at the Albert Park circuit and placed second. Last year, he lost to then Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who went on to edge him for the world championship before retiring. This time, four-time world champion Vettel took the lead when Hamilton pitted for new tires early and held on for most of the race.

Mercedes won 19 of the 21 GPs last season, and Red Bull won the other two. Red Bull’s local hope Daniel Ricciardo’s day started badly and kept getting worse as he got a grid penalty, missed the start after a mechanical failure in the warm-up, and then retired after 28 laps.

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He was among the seven drivers who retired during the race, including 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll making his debut for Williams and Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who started sixth in on the grid.