F1 2017 Australian Grand Prix result: Vettel beats Hamilton in Melbourne

PUBLISHED: 09:38 26 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:34 26 March 2017

Lewis Hamilton finished second in the 2017 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Steve Etherington/Daimler AG - Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton finished second in the 2017 Australian Grand Prix [Picture: Steve Etherington/Daimler AG - Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton finished second behind Sebastian Vettel in the season-opening 2017 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The three-time F1 world champion from Hertfordshire started the first grand prix of the year from pole position.

But the Silver Arrows star was unable to convert his 62nd carer pole into his 54th F1 victory at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit.

Vettel capitalised on pre-race favourite Hamilton’s first pit stop to pull ahead with the Stevenage-born racer struck behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

The Ferrari driver comfortably took the chequered flag at the Albert Park circuit, with Hamilton crossing the line nearly 10 seconds behind Vettel’s red car.

The Mercedes team still celebrated a double podium in Australia with Hamilton’s new team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking third place in his debut for the Silver Arrows.

Afterwards Hamilton posted on his Instagram account: “Overall great weekend! Not the race we had hoped for, but the team did an amazing job getting us to the podium. Looking forward to China, and a proper fight ahead of us this season! Congrats to Seb!”

He also said on the podium: “Big congrats to Ferrari. We struggled with the tyres.”

Vettel’s victory potentially sets up an epic battle for the title this season between the German and Hamilton.

Hamilton (18) sits P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, seven points shy of Vettel (25), with Bottas (15) a further three points behind in P3.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (33) trail Scuderia Ferrari (37) by four points in the Constructors’ Championship after round one.

After winning the first duel of the season, Vettel’s world title odds have been cut from 5/1 to 5/4, with Hamilton drifting from 8/11 to 11/10.

“The result in Australia has come as a surprise and anyone who backed Vettel at 5/1 to win the title this season has got a great bet,” said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams.

“In fact, Vettel could easily become the favourite in the next week.”

Ferrari are now 13/8 from 3/1 to win the Constructors this season, with Mercedes still 4/7 favourites with William Hill.

In the provisional race results, Kimi Raikkonen was fourth for Ferrari with Verstappen fifth.

Felipe Massa was sixth for Williams ahead of Sergio Perez in the Force India.

After seeing Ferrari win the first race of the season Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said: “Some races you win, some races you lose, and when the days come where another team has done a better job, you need to accept that with humility and recognise their performance.

“Today, Sebastian and Ferrari were well-deserved winners. From the early stages of the race, it was clear that Sebastian was very quick because Lewis wasn’t able to pull away.

“Sebastian came into the window where the undercut was possible and we had the feeling at that point that the tyres were not lasting.

“It was the team’s impression on the pit wall looking at the data and Lewis’ in the car, too.

“So that was when, with all the clear risks of coming out in traffic, we took the decision to come in. We were between a rock and a hard place, really, and we went for it.

“But Ferrari played it very well – and they had the quicker car today.

“After that, we seemed to pick up in performance on the Soft tyres. Lewis managed everything perfectly and I must compliment Valtteri, too – he showed really good pace, made no mistakes through the whole weekend and got his first podium with the team in his first race.

“Now, the job for us is to learn the lessons from this race, understand why we didn’t perform to our maximum today and keep working hard to improve the car in every area.”

Lewis Hamilton congratulates 2017 Australian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel [Picture: Steve Etherington/Mercedes-Benz Daimler AG]Lewis Hamilton congratulates 2017 Australian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel [Picture: Steve Etherington/Mercedes-Benz Daimler AG]

Mercedes technical director James Allison added: “If it wasn’t already clear after qualifying, then it’s certainly clear now that this is going to be a season of very small margins.

“We got a good getaway from the flag. But credit to Ferrari today, they had a very quick car and we just weren’t quite good enough to stick with them.

“We won’t panic, though. It’s race one of a long season and we scored some very good points with both cars today. We’ll be determined to come back stronger in China and make sure those small margins go our way next time.”

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