F1 2016 Australian Grand Prix result: Hamilton second after Alonso crashes out

PUBLISHED: 10:49 20 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:01 21 March 2016

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was second in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was second in the 2016 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]


Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton salvaged second place in a dramatic 2016 Australian Grand Prix after McLaren driver Fernando Alonso survived a massive shunt.

The 31-year-old F1 star from Hertfordshire crossed the line second behind Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg as the Mercedes team started the season in Melbourne with another one-two finish.

Pole-sitter Hamilton recovered from a poor start, and later running as low as seventh following a safety car and red flag, to claim a podium position behind Rosberg and ahead of the red Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton was relieved afterwards to have finished second.

He said: “I’ve had it much worse in the first race. I take this as a real bonus to come back from seventh.”

There was drama from the start as the drivers had to complete an extra formation lap after Daniil Kvyat became stranded at the back of the grid.

Both Ferrari drivers then made awesome starts, with Hamilton forced wide at Turn 1 and dropping down to sixth place as a result.

Rosberg also slipped back to third behind the Ferraris, with Max Verstappen and Felipe Massa between him and his Mercedes mate.

An action-packed season-opener at the Albert Park circuit was later red-flagged after Alonso crashed out in spectacular fashion following a smash with the Haas car of Esteban Gutierrez at Turn 3 on lap 16.

Fortunately, the Spaniard was able to walk away unscathed from the wreckage of his destroyed McLaren-Honda.

Alonso said afterwards: “It was a scary moment and a scary crash.”

“I got out quickly so my mum could see I was okay!”

Despite the violence of the crash, Alonso was able to extricate himself from the car unaided, and was then taken to the circuit medical centre for routine checks, before being declared okay by the doctors.

His car fared less well – both the chassis and the power unit were heavily damaged, and the resulting debris was scattered so extensively that it prompted a red-flag stoppage to clear up the mess.

Alonso later said: “I’m thankful I’m alive and that nothing serious happened – it was a big shunt.

“A combination of factors caused Esteban [Gutierrez] and me to end up crashing.

“I was in the car flying and bouncing around – I could see the sky, then the ground, then the sky again.

“Then, when the car landed, I saw a little gap and I got out quickly to make sure that my mum, who was watching the race on TV at home, could see that I was okay!”

Alonso added: “It was a racing incident – I’m very happy we’re both fine, which is the most important thing.

“But, soon afterwards, my thoughts switched to frustration and disappointment, because we missed an opportunity to get some points in the first race of the season, and we probably lost a power unit too because the car is more or less completely destroyed.

“We risk our lives every time we get in a Formula 1 car: these things happen, but I’m extremely happy to be okay.

Lewis Hamilton, race winner Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel on the 2016 Australian Grand Prix podium [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]Lewis Hamilton, race winner Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel on the 2016 Australian Grand Prix podium [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“The reason I’m still alive is probably thanks to all the fantastic work the FIA has done over the past 10 or 15 years to improve safety, work they continue to do.

“And I’m also grateful to everyone at McLaren, who built me such a strong and safe car.”

Hamilton also tweeted his best wishes to his former McLaren rival.

He tweeted: “Glad you’re ok @alo_oficial”

After the safety car had come in, Hamilton found himself down in seventh place, behind Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen and Carlo Sainz.

But his damage-limitation drive saw him climb back into the podium positions, helped by Mercedes’ tyre strategy call, and the hard-charging Vettel running off the track as he chased the Silver Arrows man in the closing laps.

Rosberg’s 15th career victory – and second at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit – sees him lead the Drivers’ Championship by seven points from Hamilton, with Mercedes also leading the Constructors’ Championship by 28 points from Ferrari.

Australian GP winner Rosberg said: “That was a perfect race for me. The start was tricky, as I was on the dirty side of the grid and Vettel managed to be ahead.

“He did a really good job at the start – but we chose the perfect strategy by going onto the medium tyre after the red flag.

“A big thanks to the team on the pit wall for that, to everyone back at the factories for this fantastic car and to everyone back in Europe who woke up so early to tune in for the race. I hope it was a good show for you!”

The German driver added: “We can enjoy this moment for sure – but we know now just how strong those red cars will be this season, so we cannot afford to relax.

“I’m really looking forward to the next races and hopefully some more exciting battles.

“Finally, I also have to say it was a big relief to see Fernando walk away from his shunt. It shows how incredible the safety of these cars is now, which is great to see.”

Runner-up Hamilton was happy to claim his 88th Formula One podium after a thrilling grand prix.

He said: “I’d had a perfect weekend in every way up until the lights went out and felt confident heading into the race.

“I got a bit of wheelspin off the line then got pushed wide at the first corner, so from there it was just about recovering.

“But these things happen and I’m grateful for the way I was able to fight back through.

“P2 isn’t bad in terms of damage limitation after a start like that.”

Hamilton added: “I spent a long time stuck behind one of the Toro Rossos and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it as he was on a quicker tyre.

“I could just see the others pulling away, so the safety car definitely helped by bunching us all up again.

2016 Australian Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]2016 Australian Grand Prix winner Nico Rosberg [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

“I was already on a one-stop strategy and, to be honest, I don’t know why everyone else didn’t do the same on the medium.

“I’m happy they didn’t, as I probably would have finished a lot further back.

“In any case, the team did a great job to help us pull it back and there’s still 20 races to go, so I’m feeling pretty chilled.

“I’ve had far worse starts to the season, so I’ll take that today and head into the next one looking up.”

Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was delighted to see a Silver Arrows 1-2.

He said: “The race was extremely tense throughout – a real cliffhanger and a great way to show what Formula One is really about.

“We didn’t get it right at the start. The drivers were slow away from the line then touched at the first corner, so we were forced into recovery mode.

“Our plan from there had been to put Nico on a two-stop and Lewis a one-stop strategy before the red flag came out.

“We did the maths and opted to go with one set of mediums to the end, with the drivers on the knife edge of endurance and performance.

“Managing tyres and temperatures became a big challenge, with debris causing an overheating brake caliper that almost forced us to retire Nico at one stage.

2016 Australian Grand Prix result

Provisional Australian Grand Prix placings

1 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

2 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

3 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)

4 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)

5 Felipe Massa (Williams)

6 Romain Grosjean (Haas)

7 Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)

8 Valtteri Bottas (Williams)

9 Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso)

10 Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso)

“Thankfully that was not the case and he led Lewis home for a hard-fought 1-2.”

Wolff continued: “A perfect result to start the year, a great job from the drivers to manage and recover the race, fantastic work on the pit wall to give them the right strategy to do so and an incredible team effort from everybody at the factories to get us here.

“We must now sort our starts and look to carry out momentum into Bahrain.”

Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe added: “What can you say after a race like that? Absolutely fantastic to get a 1-2 at the first race of the season – particularly after we made life very difficult for ourselves with a pair of poor starts.

“After the red flag we opted to run the medium tyre to the end and expected others to do the same, which would have made the win a very big ask, let alone a 1-2.

2016 Constructors’ Championship

After Round One: Australian Grand Prix

1 Mercedes 43 pts

2 Ferrari 15

3 Williams 14

4 Red Bull 12

5 Haas 8

6 Force India 6

7 Toro Rosso 3

“Of course, we can look back and enjoy it now – but it was quite stressful at the time!

“It made for a great spectacle, so I hope the fans enjoyed it. Overall, we can be extremely happy today.”

Despite the all-conquering Mercedes team continuing where they left off last season, today’s race was overshadowed by Fernando’s horrific accident.

Alonso’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, who finished 14th, said: “I’m really glad Fernando was able to walk away from that accident – I’m sure he’ll remember that one for a few weeks.

“It’s amazing how far these cars can be catapulted when they touch tyres; under braking, it can all happen very quickly when it goes wrong.

“But the fact that his car survived shows how far the sport has come in terms of safety.”

Button added: “My car wasn’t too bad, but I think we made some imperfect strategic calls this afternoon.

“Also, the red flag hurt us because we’d already made our first stop. Then, after the restart, we ran the Supersoft – which lasted about 10 laps – and then fitted the Back-Up, which everyone else had been on since the restart.

“Around here, you can catch up but you can’t easily overtake, so we ended up at the back of the queue after making our stop.”

Eric Boullier, McLaren-Honda’s racing director, praised the safety features of modern-day Formula 1 cars and race tracks.

He said: “Fernando’s shunt was a big one, and the fact that he was able to walk out of his car after such a heavy impact is impressive indeed.

“He visited the FIA medical centre immediately after the accident, and was formally okayed by the doctors there.

“He’d been driving extremely well at the time, and we believe he may well have scored points had his race run its normal course.

“Moving on to Jenson, ironically, it was the Safety Car and then the red flag triggered by Fernando’s accident that compromised his race strategy, preventing him from being able to drive for a points-scoring finish himself. Tyre degradation was also a problem for him this afternoon.

“However, all in all, despite the fact that we scored no points here in Melbourne today, we’re quietly encouraged by the progress we’ve made over the winter, and we firmly believe that, given a less confused qualifying session and an incident-free race, we’ll be in a position to score points in grands prix to come.”

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