#maxverstappen in fifth as Australian Grand Prix kick-starts exciting season.
The cars finally let loose and showed off their race pace in Melbourne with Sebastian Vettel overcoming Lewis Hamilton to take victory.
With Ferrari and Mercedes occupying the top four spots, Verstappen came home in fifth but teammate Daniel Ricciardo suffered a frustrating afternoon.
The Australian’s car stopped on the way to the grid and despite getting it going again after two laps, his race ended on lap 28 with a fuel cell issue.
Scuderia Toro Rosso duo Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat enjoyed a positive season opener. They qualified in eighth and ninth position, and finished the race in the same spots to pick up some early points.
Red Bull Racing
#maxverstappen, Finish Position: 5th, Start Position: 5th
“The start was really good but it was just a shame that out of turn one I had dirty air ahead of me, this allowed Kimi to stay on the outside and get in front of me again. From then on the pace wasn’t too bad, I could follow him pretty well which was a nice surprise and I had no pressure from behind me. It was positive to see we weren’t that far off Ferrari and Mercedes over a full race distance, this was a concern this morning but I’m relieved now to finish within touching distance. Physically I feel fine, you have to fight the cars a bit but to be honest I feel better than I did last year after race distance. The car behaved and handled quite a bit better than in qualifying. It was hard to follow and drive close behind others, I think as soon as you get within two seconds you can really feel it and could destroy your tyres. Looking ahead to China I think we need to keep working hard on the car, race pace was good but you can still see we are not quick enough in certain situations.”
#danielricciardo, Finish Position: DNF, Start Position: From garage
“Not the weekend I wanted at home. For all these things to happen at my home race that’s probably the most frustrating thing. We were on the back foot already after the crash in qualifying and then today we had an issue during the warm up lap followed by a second issue in the race. On both occasions the car just came to a stop so I couldn’t do anything else. But look, it’s the first race so hopefully we’ll move forward from this. Sure I’m disappointed now but it is what it is. I’ve been here before so I’ll wake up tomorrow and be motivated to get ready for China. I feel for the fans. I’m sure they would have loved seeing me in action, but I feel super grateful for everyone that came this weekend and supported me. Even when I stopped they were still cheering and shouting my name. That goes a long way and it makes me stand here now feeling a lot better than if I didn’t have that so I definitely appreciate their support. Also, the boys worked so many hours this weekend, and did a great job getting me out on the track again but unfortunately it hasn’t come together for any of us. Max’s pace in the race looked a bit more encouraging, so I think we’re better than what we’re showing but it’s still a bit of a puzzle we’re trying to figure out. If any Aussies have a bit of energy left in a few weeks, then come out to China and you’ll hopefully see a better race from me.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A really frustrating start to the race with Daniel having a problem with what looks like a sensor on the gearbox stopping the car in sixth gear on the formation lap. It was an unbelievable recovery from the mechanics to get him into the race, nobody gave up in working to get the car out there. Then we were always going to be relying on safety cars to get back on to the lead lap. We decided to put the mileage in and get the knowledge anyway. Unfortunately on lap 28 he encountered another issue with a fuel cell that we need to look at to understand it fully. Max made a good start and even though he was able to have a go at Kimi, unfortunately he didn’t have the line for turn 3 but he never gave up, didn’t put a wheel wrong all afternoon and drove a very mature race. I think strategically we picked the right tyre for the pit stop and he did everything that could have been asked of him. He had some brake wear to manage in the last three laps but fifth position today was the optimum result. Congratulations to Sebastian, I think he owes us a beer (!) but he drove a strong race today.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso
CARLOS SAINZ: Finish Position: 8, Start Position: 8
“A tricky race! Obviously, with this new generation of cars, we didn’t know really what to expect, but to finish P8 is a decent result I’m happy with. It’s a shame that soon after the pit-stop we lost the position to Perez. I struggled after having to let Daniil and the two Mercedes by, as my tyre temperatures dropped down a bit and it took me some time to get back into rhythm. Towards the end of the race I was coming fast, catching the Force India, and I got quite close to overtaking him - if only there had been a few more laps, I could’ve given it a try. This race weekend was definitely a confidence boost for the whole team – to get both cars into Q3 yesterday and end with a double-points finish today is a really good start and now we need to make sure we keep on going like this.”
DANIIL KVYAT: Finish Position: 9, Start Position: 9
“What a good race! It was just a shame that we had to make an extra stop during the final laps, as we had to fill my car with air again… If it hadn’t been for that, P7 was definitely on the table and we were fighting for it well! The team has done a fantastic job all weekend and I’m very glad about that – congratulations and thank you everyone! We now need to keep pushing and fighting for more points like today. Physically speaking, it wasn’t an easy race but I felt good the whole time – I need to thank my trainer for that, we worked very well throughout the whole winter! All in all, a good way to start the season, showing strong pace and with both cars in the points; now we can start to prepare for China and we can all be pleased with ourselves.”
FRANZ TOST, Team Principal: “We started today’s race from eighth and ninth position on the grid, after performing well in yesterday’s qualifying session and getting both cars into Q3. This shows that our complete package is very competitive and this is certainly encouraging. In today’s race, both drivers did a good start and defended their positions well. Perez drove quite a solid race, overtaking both Carlos and Daniil, therefore finishing ahead of us. I think that, under other circumstances, we could have caught him back, but unfortunately we lost around ten seconds of time as we had to fill air twice in Daniil’s car. At the end of the race, Carlos got quite close to the Force India driver in seventh place, but because of the blue flags for the leading cars he lost contact. After that, there were not enough laps remaining for him to try and overtake the Mexican. Generally speaking, the car showed a good performance and our pit-stops worked very well. I’d like to congratulate the organizers of this race, as they did a fantastic job during the whole race weekend, attracting many fans – it was nice to see a full house. The race itself was also interesting, as it was Ferrari who won, with Mercedes finishing close behind. I think this will become a very interesting fight throughout the whole year. I’d like to congratulate our ex-driver Sebastian for the race win today, he really deserved it!”
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