2019 Australian Grand Prix Blog
This was going to be Ferrari’s year wasn’t it? Ask anyone in the Paddock and they all thought the Scuderia had the fastest car. But nobody told Valtteri Bottas…
The ‘Flying Finn’ put in a devastating display to pass Lewis Hamilton at the start and then kept extending his lead, before coming home 20 seconds clear of the field. He also set the fastest lap to boot, taking his points tally for the weekend to 26. This was, without doubt, the best race of Valtteri Bottas’ life.
So what’s changed? Bottas hid himself away for the winter, first in the Chilean mountains and then back in his native Finland. It seems this time to reflect has transformed him into a stronger and more determined character. He’s also under no illusions that if he doesn’t deliver this season then he will lose his Mercedes seat. When asked about it he said: “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.”
It was the perfect weekend for Mercedes. With Lewis Hamilton finishing in second place they stand on 44 points, already double Ferrari’s score of 22, in the Constructors. Hamilton is perhaps the only member of the team left disappointed. He was seen checking his car immediately after the race as if something were amiss, and Mercedes later reported: “We have discovered damage to Lewis’ floor in the area just in front of the left-rear tyre. There is a chunk of the floor missing, but we are not 100 per cent sure why yet.”
This should be comforting news for Hamilton but will bring a sense of dread to Ferrari. It wasn’t just that Mercedes beat them this weekend, it’s the fact they weren’t even close. We suspect the team at Maranello will be working round the clock to try and eek out further improvements before Bahrain in 2 weeks’ time.
Ferrari also came under further criticism when they decided not to let Charles Leclerc pass an obviously struggling Sebastian Vettel. The radio transcript has since emerged:
CL: “Should I stay behind Sebastian, yes or no?”
Team: “Yes, and back off to have some margin”
Team orders for race one is not something fans want to see. Hopefully this won’t be repeated over the coming weeks and months…
The midfield battle looks tighter than ever this year. Sadly, Williams are well off the pace, but all other teams will go into each race knowing there’s the potential to score points. Haas will have been pleased with Kevin Magnussen’s 6th place. Kimi steered his Alfa Romeo home in 8th and Lance Stroll did well to finish 9th for his new Racing Point team, ahead of team mate Sergio Perez.
Lastly, Daniil Kvyat is one to keep an eye on this year. ‘The Torpedo’ is perhaps a bit unfair as a nickname because the Russian has matured from his earlier misdemeanours. That said, he is very much a livewire and capable of pulling off moves that other drivers would not attempt. Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost certainly has faith, saying: “Daniil is a high skilled driver with fantastic natural speed, which he has proven several times in his career… We’ll push very hard to provide him with a good package, and I feel the best is yet to come from his side.” Watch this space…
Next up is Bahrain, a race which Vettel has won for the past two years. Ferrari will be praying for a hat trick and to put some of the pressure back on Mercedes.
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