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Ferrari Draws First F1 Blood; Wins In Australia

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 26 2017

Sebastian Vettel put Ferrari on the top step of the podium Sunday at the Australian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel put an end to the years-long dominance of Mercedes AMG on Sunday when he drove his Ferrari to victory in the Formula One season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The victory marked the first time that anything other than a Mercedes had won the season-opening event since 2013.

Lewis Hamilton, who started on the pole in his Mercedes, finished second.

Valtteri Bottas, making his Mercedes debut after taking the place of retired Nico Rosberg, finished third.

“It’s been a great day for us,” Vettel told reporters. “The team has been working so hard at the track as much as back at the factory. It’s a great feeling. ‘Grazie mille’, you can’t say much more. The last months have been really intense, it’s been tough to get into the rhythm. It’s just the beginning and there’s still a lot of work going on. This is one of many steps and we have to enjoy what we do.”

Not only did Vettel’s Ferrari win the race, it was obviously quicker than the Mercs. The Ferrari’s had been fast in pre-season testing and Vettel finished just .03 seconds behind Hamilton in qualifying on Saturday.

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fifth at the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn Albert Park circuit.

The America-based Haas F1 Racing team started the race with high hopes as Romain Grosjean qualified sixth – best ever for the team which is beginning its second F1 campaign.

Unfortunately,  drivers Kevin Magnussen and Grosjean  suffered DNFs in their new Haas VF-17s.

A water leak later derailed Grosjean’s run, sending him to the garage after 13 laps.

 Magnussen’s first bout of misfortune came on the opening lap when contact with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson sent him into the turn-three gravel trap. Magnussen powered through the gravel and reemerged onto the track, albeit with a damaged front wing that necessitated a trip to pit lane. With a new wing and fresh tires, Magnussen returned to racing, but well down the running order. Then 11 laps short of the finish, a suspension issue likely stemming from the incident with Ericsson forced Magnussen to retire his car.

The end result left Magnussen 15th and Grosjean 20th in a race of attrition that saw five other drivers fail to finish.

“Not the race we wished for, or we expected,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said. “With Romain it looks like we had a water leak. We don’t know yet where that came from. Obviously, Kevin’s race was destroyed in the third corner after the contact with Ericsson. He then ended up later with a suspension failure, which we still have to investigate why. The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in China in two weeks.”

Formula One takes a weekend off before returning to action for the Chinese Grand Prix April 9 at the Shanghai International Circuit.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 26 2017
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