Team by team analysis of the Australian Grand Prix

(Reuters) – Team by team analysis of Sunday’s season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix (listed in championship order):

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The starting grid is seen during the Formula One F1 Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne, Australia, March 17, 2019. AAP/James Ross/via REUTERS

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MERCEDES (Valtteri Bottas 1, Lewis Hamilton 2)

Bottas took his first win since 2017, and fourth of his career. He banked an extra point for the fastest lap, becoming the first Formula One driver to score more than 25 points in two separate races (the Finn took 30 in Abu Dhabi in 2014 when double points were awarded). Hamilton started from a record-extending 84th career pole position but lost out at the start. The one-two finish was Mercedes’ 45th.

FERRARI (Sebastian Vettel 4, Charles Leclerc 5)

Vettel’s bid for an Australian hat-trick, after wins in 2017 and 2018, never looked likely and he was passed by Red Bull’s Verstappen during the race. It was the first time since 2014 that Vettel had failed to make the podium in Australia. The drivers were told to hold station late in the race because rivals ahead were out of range.

RED BULL (Max Verstappen 3, Pierre Gasly 11)

Verstappen gave new engine partners Honda their first podium finish since 2008, when they had a works team and before the current V6 turbo hybrid era. The Dutch 21-year-old started fourth and passed Vettel for third and has now had six successive podiums, including the five at the end of last year. Gasly was making his Red Bull debut after graduating from Toro Rosso but got stuck behind his replacement Kvyat.

HAAS (Kevin Magnussen 6, Romain Grosjean retired)

Grosjean started sixth and Magnussen seventh but the Frenchman had a repeat of last year’s pitstop nightmare, retiring shortly after the team had struggled to fit a front wheel. Magnussen drove a solid race without mistakes.

RENAULT (Nico Hulkenberg 7, Daniel Ricciardo retired)

Ricciardo’s Renault debut ended almost as soon as it began, with the Australian smashing his car’s front wing when he went onto the grass at the start. He pitted and went to the back before retiring on lap 28 as a precaution. Hulkenberg started 11th but was up to eighth after the opening lap.

ALFA ROMEO (Kimi Raikkonen 8, Antonio Giovinazzi 15)

Raikkonen started his post-Ferrari era in the points, moving up a place from where he started but spending much of the race stuck behind cars he could not pass. He also had a rear brake temperature issue caused by a visor tear-off that went in. Giovinazzi picked up some damage on the opening lap.

RACING POINT (Lance Stroll 9, Sergio Perez 13)

Stroll got his new season, at a team owned by his father, off to a scoring start after lining up 16th on the grid and holding off Kvyat and Gasly in the closing stages following a long opening stint. Perez qualified 10th but lost places at the start and was then stuck in traffic.

TORO ROSSO (Daniil Kvyat 10, Alexander Albon 14)

Kvyat marked his return to Formula One after a year and a half out by denying Red Bull Racing, the team he was demoted from in 2016, a double points finish. Debutant Albon, the first Thai racer since the 1950s, started 13th and made up two positions before falling back on tyre strategy.

MCLAREN (Lando Norris 12, Carlos Sainz retired)

Norris, 19, had hoped to score on his debut after qualifying eighth but lost out at the start. He still finished as the highest-placed rookie. Sainz gained three places from 18th on the grid but retired on lap 10 with the car suffering a suspected MGU-K failure.

WILLIAMS (George Russell 16, Robert Kubica 17)

Kubica suffered damage on the opening lap and had to pit for a new front wing. He also lost a mirror on lap three. The Pole then made two further pitstops. Russell made his debut without drama in a car seriously down on performance. He did an additional pitstop to try all three tyre compounds.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis

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