2019 Australian Grand Prix – Race Recap
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Race Weekend: 2019 Australian Grand Prix
It’s the very first race weekend for the 2019 Formula 1 season and the battle has begun for the World Drivers’ Championship! Mercedes were the stronger team today however we should make note that the Australian Grand Prix has a unique circuit.
Ferrari looked stronger at the start of the race however lacked that special ‘something’ – quite a contrast to pre-season testing but this is the very first race and of course, it’s likely that things will change. Leclerc however did put the pressure on his team-mate, closing the gap and mentioning that he “asked” the team to overtake to which he was told to “maintain my position”.
We saw a strong Max Verstappen who made his way through and claimed P3 – a great way to start his season and a great start for the team with the Honda engines.
Let’s take a look at the brief race recap before going to the driver interviews…
2019 Australian Grand Prix – Brief Race Recap
For many, the soft tyre was the main starting tyre however on the medium tyre, we had – Stroll, Gasly, Kvyat, Russel and Giovinazzi. Kubica on the other hand, started his race on the hard compound.
Lewis Hamilton made his way round the formation lap – leading the rest of the pack and preparing his car for the race. Lining up slightly early – there was a little wait before lights out.
Valtteri Bottas is the driver to have a great start – a fantastic start! Whilst Lewis Hamilton also had a great start, he couldn’t keep up with his team-mate who led into the first corner, closely followed by Vettel, Leclerc and Verstappen.
A terrible start for Ricciardo – going over a little bump on the main straight which caused his front wing to come off his car – not a great start and not the way a front wing should be reacting – debris on the track and another front wing from Williams too.
Ricciardo comes into the pits for a new front wing / nose and sadly – it doesn’t look like this will be the best home-race for the Renault driver.
As things ‘calm’ down – Kubica comes into the pits following damage to his front wing. Taking advantage of the stop, he swaps to the medium tyre and makes his way back out on track.
Just when we thought things were on the up for McLaren – Sainz’s car is on fire! He stops just on the outside of the pit-lane entry and gets out of the car as marshalls come along and deal with the flames. A bad start for Sainz and not great for McLaren.
More pit stops take place and it’s Hulkenberg and Perez – along with Vettel who also comes into the pits. He switches to the medium tyre and it’s a good stop for Ferrari with the driver coming back out onto the track in clean air.
Magnussen now pits and comes out ahead of Hulkenberg following his stop – on warmer tyres, Hulkenberg makes a pass on Grosjean, racing and taking the place.
Max Verstappen has been gaining on Sebastian Vettel for a few laps who seems to have dropped back and lost a little bit of pace – not looking as strong, the Red Bull Racing driver finally makes a pass and moves up to P3.
After this, he’s putting his foot down and starting to put the pressure on the Mercedes drivers’ ahead – closing in on Lewis Hamilton.
In the lead we have Valtteri Bottas – he made his pit stops and the team did everything just right, allowing him to regain his place in P1. He’s at the front – looking very comfortable and managing the race. Throughout the race, we’ve seen Bottas setting fast lap times along with Hamilton however Bottas sets the fastest lap of the race – meaning, if he wins, he’ll take 26 points away from Melbourne.
Vettel Team Radio – “Why are we so slow?” asks Vettel – following a strong looking Ferrari in pre-season testing, this isn’t the best year in Australia for the team….
This is where things get interesting between the Ferrari drivers – Leclerc has started to close the gap to Vettel and questions is he can make a move to which he’s told to “maintain position” in effect meaning that he can’t overtake Vettel.
Will he listen throughout the year or will Leclerc start to push and think of his own races…..?
Where Verstappen was looking strong, he makes a mistake, out-brakes himself and goes over the grass costing him time.
Vettel now has Leclerc almost in DRS range but that’s all it is following ‘the call’ – will they be good team-mates throughout the year or will tensions build between them?
Verstappen claims the fastest lap followed by Lewis Hamilton and finally – Valtteri Bottas puts his foot down and claims the fastest lap yet again.
VALTTERI BOTTAS WINS THE 2019 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX
Let’s take a look at the driver interviews and what they had to say following the race.
MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS – Australian GP
Valtteri Bottas: “This feels so good – I don’t think I’ve ever had a race like this! We could not have asked for a better start to the season – getting maximum points for the team is a perfect result and we couldn’t be happier. It’s also an important result for me personally, I’m really pleased with how the race went.”
“These things don’t just happen – both the team and I have worked hard for this and it seems like the hard work paid off today. The key was the start; I think Lewis may have had a bit of wheel spin, so I was able to take the lead.”
“My race pace was really strong, I could pull away and build a gap. In the end, I managed to get the fastest lap as well, which of course means an extra point this season, so I went for it.”
“It can be a little risky with worn tyres, but I had it all under control. I’m very, very pleased with today, but it’s only the first race and we have another 20 races to go.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It was an incredible weekend for the team, we’re leaving Melbourne with maximum points. Valtteri did an exceptional job today – congratulations to him.”
“I had a pretty straightforward race today; I lost position at the start and my race was pretty much done and dusted after the first corner.”
“Afterwards it was really about bringing the car home and bagging the points. I had to pit early to cover the pit stop from Ferrari, so I had a long second stint and drove super carefully to make sure I had tyres left at the end of the race. I’ll bag the eighteen points I got today, keep working and come back recharged for the next one.”
“It was a really great weekend for the team and I’m really happy for everyone. We showed a great performance today and we need to continue to build on this – we have a long season ahead of us.”
SCUDERIA FERRARI – Australian GP
Sebastian Vettel: “We were not happy with the car the whole weekend but today we struggled a lot. The reason I was so slow in the race was mostly due to the fact that the car could not find enough grip with the medium tyres that we fitted at the pit stop.”
“As a team, we still got a decent amount of points from our fourth and fifth places, but this is not the result we were aiming for just a few weeks ago.”
“So in the coming days, we will analyse the data in detail so as to be ready for the next race, which is not far away now. I’m sure that looking at all the information we have gathered here will give us a better understanding, but today, the result we got was the best we could do.”
Charles Leclerc: “I made a good start, to the extent that I managed to pass Verstappen and found myself alongside Sebastian, who was fighting a Mercedes.”
“That meant I had to put my wheels on the grass at the exit of the first esses, which allowed Max to get in front of me again. At the start, the car was not so easy to drive and that led to me making a small mistake at the first corner, which cost me a handful of seconds.”
“We decided to fit the hard tyres at the pit stop and, I have to say, that from then on, the car improved a lot and I was able to push.”
“Towards the end, I closed on Sebastian, but the team decided to keep our positions, given that the top three places were not within our grasp today.”
“Now, we will work with the engineers to try and understand why we were not as strong as we had hoped to be, even though we brought home a good points haul.”
Mattia Binotto: “Right from Friday, we didn’t feel comfortable at this track. Even though we did a lot of work on set-up, we didn’t find the right balance and even our qualifying performance demonstrated that we were struggling to adapt to the Albert Park track.”
“Then, in the race, in the first stint, we tried to keep up. Charles made a slight mistake, which meant he could not stay with the leaders.”
“After his pit stop, Seb’s car never found the right grip level on the Medium tyres and so the driver was unable to attack those ahead of him.”
“When he could no longer fend off Verstappen, we decided the most important thing was to get to the end, managing the tyres. When Charles caught up to him, it seemed wise not to take any risks. “
“We leave Australia with a lot of data to analyse and we will use that to work out how to get back to our actual level of competitiveness for the race in Bahrain in two weeks time.”
RED BULL RACING – Australian GP
Max Verstappen: “I am very happy for the Team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today. Since we started working together it has been amazing and I am really enjoying the partnership, so this is a well-deserved third place for all of us.”
“To be able to challenge Lewis at the end of the race and overtake Seb on-track, which around here is very difficult, is very positive.”
“We had a little advantage with the tyres but it was satisfying to pressure Lewis even though I couldn’t get quite close enough to overtake him.”
“The car was working really well and we also look strong on the straights which is hopefully a good sign for the rest of the season.”
“I heard this is the first podium for Honda since 2008 so I am very happy that I managed to achieve this for them today.”
Pierre Gasly: “It was a pretty difficult race. With the new bigger rear wings, I couldn’t see the lights on the grid so I had to react with the cars around me and I lost a couple of places. “
“Then I got stuck in traffic and even with the DRS, it’s super difficult to overtake here plus I had some debris in my front wing which didn’t help.”
“I spent the whole race five tenths from the car in front but my tyres were just sliding and I couldn’t get past. I pushed as much as I could and I tried everything but it wasn’t enough to make it into the points.”
“In general, the pace over the weekend was really good. In qualifying, we got knocked out of Q1 but I was happy with my first lap and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t make it through.”
“Bahrain is a race I really like and we’ve seen the car is competitive so we’ll keep our heads down, stay focused and give a big push in two weeks’ time.”
MCLAREN – Australia GP
Carlos Sainz: “It’s been a weekend to forget. I think we lost the MGU-K, which was a shame as the race was going well. I’d put yesterday behind me and I was feeling positive going into today.”
“I’d done everything I wanted to do: I made a good start, overtaking four cars, getting in the fight for the points and starting to attack the cars in front.”
“The car felt good, we had strong pace and I was fighting with other cars that ended up in the points today, which shows us that points could have been possible.”
“This one hurts, but this is Formula 1. My season has started with a really unlucky weekend but hopefully we can start having more positive results from Bahrain onwards. I’m happy to put this one behind me and keep pushing.”
Lando Norris: “The team gave me a good car, with enough pace for me to be in the top 10 but I made a couple of mistakes which cost me any chance of scoring points, so I’m a little disappointed. But it’s cool to finish my first [F1] race and get it out of the way.”
“I didn’t make the perfect start, struggled to get ahead of a slower car and then had a big lock-up so I need to work on these mistakes. I’m annoyed with myself as there was more potential.”
“Now I focus and look forward to Bahrain.”
ALFA ROMEO – Australia GP
Kimi Raikkonen: “Our car was pretty strong in the race, but then we got stuck behind cars and there is not much you can do. It seems that it is easier to get closer to the car in front of you but it’s still very hard to overtake.”
“In addition, we had an issue with the temperature of the rear brakes as one of the tear-offs from the visor went in and that’s why we had to pit earlier than planned.”
“But as I said, the car has a lot of speed and it felt good, so I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain.”
Antonio Giovinazzi: “It was a tough race. I picked up some damage to my car on lap 1 and after that it was challenging to stay up to speed.”
“There were some battles and I did my best to defend my position. It was only the first race of the season, so I look forward to fighting for a stronger result in Bahrain.”
Frédéric Vasseur – Team Principal
“For the first race of the season, it was an ok race. We had some small issues which we could not have anticipated and both drivers put up a good fight. We are returning home with 4 points, which is a positive.”
“To start the season with one car in the top 10 is a good achievement and we will push hard to score some more points at the next Grand Prix in Bahrain.”