Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas took a dominant Australian Grand Prix victory, finishing 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton and claiming the bonus point on offer for fastest at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, got Red Bull Racing’s Honda-powered era off to good start by handing the Japanese manufacturer its first podium finish since 2008 as he claimed third place beind the Mercedes duo.
At the start, Bottas made a good start from the front row and managed to get past pole position man Hamilton in Turn 1 to take the lead. Max, meanwhile, held fourth place behind Vettel as the field streamed through the opening sector.
There was trouble though for Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie took an inside line from P12 on the grid but was squeezed by Racing Point’s Sergio Perez. Ricciardo went on the grass, hit a hummock and dislodged his front wing. He pitted for a new nose and wing. The Australian later retired on lap 29.
After taking the lead, Bottas then began to consolidate it, opening up a 3.5s gap to Hamilton by lap 12 of the 58 and a 7.2s lead to Vettel.
The German Ferrari driver was the first of the leaders to pit at the end of lap 14, taking on medium tyres. He was followed on the next lap by Hamilton who made the same compound choice. Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc continued to stayed out, however, and by lap 21 Bottas held a 14s advantage over Verstappen who was 10.3s clear of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Bottas eventually made his stop for medium tyres on lap 23. That handed the lead to Verstappen, with the Mercedes driver rejoining seven seconds behind the Red Bull and three seconds ahead of Leclerc.
Verstappen was next in, at the end of lap 25, and a good stop of 2.3s saw him take on mediums and rejoin in P5 behind Vettel. Leclerc, though, still needed to make his stop for new tyres.
The Monegasque drivers finally stopped for hard tyres on lap 28, leaving Bottas to lead Hamilton by 15s with Vettel third ahead of Verstappen.
That order wouldn’t last long, however. After the stops, Verstappen found himself just half a second behind Vettel and on lap 30 he attacked. The Red Bull driver couldn’t make the move stick into Turn 1 but he then pulled alongside the German on the next straight and, thanks to fresher tyres, rounded the Ferrari through Turn 3 to slot into a podium position.
Verstappen then tries to close on Hamilton but the Briton was able to respond and with Bottas in control at the front, the leading order settled.
There was a flurry of action in the closing laps as Verstappen tried to steal fastest lap and the point on offer for the marker from Bottas. The Finn wasn’t to be denied however, and on lap 57 he punched in a 1:25.580 to take the bonus point.
At the end of the next tour he took the fourth win of his career ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen. Fourth place went to Vettel, with Leclerc settling for fifthKevin Magnussen took sixth place for Haas ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen and Stroll held onto ninth ahead of the final points score, Kvyat.
2019 Formula One Australian Grand Prix – Race
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes –
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 20.886
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull 22.520
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 57.109
5 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 58.230
6 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1’27.156
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 lap
8 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1 lap
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point Mercedes 1 lap
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1 lap
11 Pierre Gasly Red Bull 1 lap
12 Lando Norris McLaren 1 lap
13 Sergio Perez Racing Point 1 lap
14 Alex Albon Toro Rosso 1 lap
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1 lap
16 George Russell Williams 2 laps
17 Robert Kubica Williams 3 laps
Romain Grosjean Haas
Daniel Ricciardo Renault
Carlos Sainz McLaren