F1 2018 Australian Grand Prix result: Lewis Hamilton loses out to Sebastian Vettel
PUBLISHED: 12:25 25 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:12 25 March 2018
Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was unable to convert pole position into victory in the season-opening 2018 Australian Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Mercedes F1 driver from Hertfordshire was leapfrogged by Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel during a virtual safety car period and ultimately had to settle for second place around the Albert Park track in Melbourne this morning.
It was Hamilton’s eighth Formula One podium finish in Australia, and his 118th career podium.
After missing out on victory in the first race of the season, Hamilton said: “I did everything I could today, but it’s not what anyone expected to happen.
“I’m still in a little bit of disbelief as I don’t really understand what happened yet.
“Once I get back with my engineers they’ll do a debrief and obviously I’ll find out why.
“This weekend there was so much talk about party mode or if Ferrari would be quick enough. I don’t think the gap was as big as it seemed yesterday, it’s just that I had a good lap and maybe Sebastian didn’t have a good lap.
“But today they were very, very quick. I put up a bit of a fight towards the end but they were within a tenth of us today.
“At least in my heart I know that I gave everything this weekend. I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now but we will regroup and we’ll work on it.”
Silver Arrows F1 boss Toto Wolff admitted it the team blundered after seeing Hamilton lose out to Vettel.
“This was one that got away and it’s a bitter pill for us all to swallow,” said Wolff.
“Following Lewis’ pit stop, we believed that we had the scenarios of both the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car covered, so that Sebastian could not pit and come out ahead of Lewis on track.
“We should have been several seconds safe, then suddenly saw on the TV screens that we were not.
“Of course, under the VSC sometimes you benefit and sometimes you lose out – but it was clearly a problem on our side and we need to analyse that to understand what happened and correct it.
“It’s all the more frustrating because we had the pace today to win.
“Lewis was in control through the opening stint, then after the pit stop as well, and looked on course for a strong victory but it wasn’t to be.”
Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas battled from P15 on the grid to claim eighth place at the chequered flag.
Bottas said: “It was a bit of a frustrating day. I got some points, but not as many as I was hoping for, even starting 15th on the grid.
“We had a good car, it felt just like in qualifying, the team did a really good job on that.
“Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make anything out of it because it is so difficult to overtake on this track.
“I also struggled a bit with overheating issues on the engine when I was following other cars, so I had to back off many times.
“It’s been a disappointing weekend and certainly not an ideal first race, but we still have 20 races to go.
“We need to learn from this weekend and try again in two weeks in Bahrain.”
Wolff said of Bottas: “We knew this would be a tough race to make up much ground.
“The margins between teams are closing up and this is one of the most difficult circuits to overtake on in the entire season.
“He made three passes on track, and benefited from the VSC too, but then was stuck in a DRS train in the final laps.
“Congratulations to Ferrari on their win today; for us, it’s a tough one to take, but there are lots of lessons to be learned so we can come back stronger next time.”
Following today’s Australian Grand Prix result, four-time F1 world champion Hamilton (18) sits P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, seven points behind Sebastian Vettel (25).
Ferrari (40) lead Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (22) by 18 points in the Constructors’ Championship.
Mercedes technical director James Allison said: “Having come to Melbourne with high hopes, it will be a long journey home for us, knowing that we under-delivered as a team.
“The pace we saw during the weekend was promising for the season ahead but it counts for nothing if you don’t handle correctly the cards that the race can deal to you – and, today, we didn’t.
“We need to analyse our mistakes, correct them and we look forward to getting to the next race and starting to put things right.”