The flying Finn Valtteri Bottas shocked the expected order of the F1 world by winning the Melbourne Grand Prix after a barren last season.
The F1 expectation is five times world champion Lewis Hamilton and four times champion Sebastian Vettel battle wheel-to-wheel for the top places in their Mercedes and Ferrari, while Bottas and the rest compete for the crumbs that fall from their table.
But this year’s F1 curtain raiser in Australia rewrote the script.
Not only did Bottas burn up the track to come home first, he was a full 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Hamilton in second, 22 seconds in front of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with Vettel back in the distance a full 58 seconds behind.
The timings show how much on top of the race Bottas was – and how far ahead of the field.
Change of life
After the race, he put the win down to a change in perspective about his life in general.
“Every year you learn as a person, about yourself, what works for you and what doesn’t,” Bottas said. “Preparation includes how you rest, how you do your spare time, travel plans and all sorts, trying to optimise again everything for this year.
“It is quite difficult to explain what has been going on last winter inside my head but something changed about how I feel about things and life in general.”
But one win does not a champion make. Bottas now must show consistency and ride his luck.
Lack lustre Hamilton
Vettel summed it up, saying: “He always had the speed. Last year did not go well for him for many reasons. He won the race, he was straight away far away from us, which is not good news for us. But he is a nice guy so I am really happy for him today.”
Hamilton blamed his lack lustre performance on floor damage that caused his car to lose rear downforce. Throughout the race, Hamilton was complaining about the way his car handled, and although his team tinkered when he was in the pits, he struggled to the end.
But the main mystery was where did Ferrari go?
IN pre-season testing, the car was quicker around the track than any of the others, but the speed seems to have evaporated in Melbourne.