Australian GP: Winners and Losers

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F1 is back, and the opening race has already fuelled the passions and set the stage for an epic battle between two of the sports' best drivers against each other.

Winners

  • Sebastian Vettel draws first blood in the season the media are hyping as the "Battle to 5" world championships. On the back of a calculated strategy call by his team, he got the performance out of his tyres and stretched his opening sector that put him in the race-winning position when the Virtual Safety Car was released.
  • Fernando Alonso held off a sustained threat from Max Verstappen to claim P5 in McLaren Renault's first real test. It was nothing special, but given his sufferance during the Honda era, and a troublesome pre-season, it was enough to earn Fernando the Driver of the Day award.
  • Daniel Ricciardo recovered from an average qualifying, worsened by a harsh penalty, to finish ahead of his teammate and challenging for a place on the podium.

Losers

  • Haas threw away the opportunity to leave Australia with almost half of their total point haul from the 2017 season. Two pitstop incidents saw the team lose both top-10 positions and fined by the FIA for releasing a car in an unsafe condition. After demonstrating that their pre-season form was true, they could have a battle with McLaren and Renault on their hands for 4th in the championship.
  • Valtteri Bottas arrived in Australia under a cloud, with questions about his contract for 2019 being raised. His slip-up in qualifying left him with too much to do during the race, and with Hamilton vulnerable to the Ferrari's it's arguable that if he'd played wingman to Lewis the result could have been very different for Mercedes.
  • Williams saw only one of their cars finish the race, and as good as last for what it's worth. With the "worst driver line-up on the grid", it's hard to find positives for the team that is likely to continue to slip down the grid, with McLaren, Haas and Renault all likely to finish the season ahead of them. 

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