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Winners and Losers - Australia

16 Mar 2015

Lewis Hamilton scored a classy triumph in the 2015 season-opener, but he and Mercedes weren't the only team celebrating on Sunday night. Sauber put a tumultuous few days behind them in style, Ferrari made a welcome return to the podium - while McLaren were two laps down, but did at least see the chequered flag. We take a team-by-team look at the highs and lows of Sunday's action at Melbourne Park...


Lewis Hamilton, P1
Nico Rosberg, P2

While a 1-2 finish looked easy for Mercedes, it wasn't for the drivers as they played a cat and mouse game of fuel and tyre conservation in between fastest lap-setting spurts. As they circulated way ahead of their opposition, Hamilton judged things finely and was always in control of the race, but knew that the slightest slip would hand the result to Rosberg.


Sebastian Vettel, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, Retired lap 41, loose rear wheel

Vettel was delighted to finish third after passing Massa during the pit stops, especially after inadvertently pushing team mate Raikkonen wide in the first corner. The Finn lost ground in that incident, was delayed further during his first pit stop, and then retired at his second when the same left rear wheel proved problematic. It was improperly fastened, but the team were unaware of the issue and he managed to pull off the road before it parted company with the SF15-T. For that reason the stewards did not impose any penalty for unsafe release.

A welcome return to the podium for Ferrari then - but it is worth pointing out that Vettel was 34.5s behind Hamilton, pretty much the same distance that Alonso was behind Rosberg last year.


Felipe Nasr, P5
Marcus Ericsson, P8

What a difference a few days made! Beleaguered by the driver situation until Friday night, Sauber enjoyed a superb race. Nasr put in an excellent performance to take fifth place after a fight with Raikkonen, Sainz and Ricciardo, thus becoming the best Brazilian debutant in F1 history. Ericsson added to the shine with eighth, instantly helping to sweep away memories of last year's failure to score a single point.


Felipe Massa, P4
Valtteri Bottas, Did not start, back injury

Williams went one man down when Bottas was instructed not to race after tearing an annular disc in his lower back during Q2. Initially Massa held third comfortably from Vettel, but then he lost ground in the pit stop and fell behind the Ferrari. He said later that the red car was simply faster, and that he couldn't mount a sustained challenge to regain his lost podium position.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, P6
Daniil Kvyat, Did not start, transmission

This was not Red Bull's most auspicious race. Kvyat didn't get to the grid thanks to transmission failure, while Ricciardo struggled throughout with inconsistency and poor driveability, saying later that he thought Red Bull had slipped two seconds off the pace.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, P7
Sergio Perez, P10

Despite lacking pace, Force India picked up seven valuable points in Australia. Hulkenberg put in one of his trademark smooth runs to capture an impressive seventh, while Perez got delayed in a clash with Button and by a long pit stop, but recovered to grab the final point.

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz Jr, P9
Max Verstappen, Retired lap 33, fire

Toro Rosso got short-changed. Sainz was running comfortably in the top seven until the left rear wheel stuck during his pit stop, dropping him to 13th. He fought back well to eighth, but could not resist Ericsson, who was on fresher soft tyres, in the closing stages. Nevertheless, ninth on his debut was impressive. Verstappen, who at 17 became F1's youngest-ever starter, also impressed with a controlled early run on mediums which promised a charge on softs in the final stint. Sadly, smoke in the cockpit obliged him to retire.


Jenson Button, P11
Kevin Magnussen, Did not start, power unit

McLaren's race hadn't even begun before Magnussen had retired on his way to the grid with engine failure - grim viewing for the watching Honda presidents. But Button somehow kept running in a car that had hitherto never managed more than 12 consecutive laps. He was uncompetitive and two laps down on the winning Mercedes, but it was a major step forward for the beleaguered team and the mileage provided key data on which the McLaren-Honda alliance can build.


Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 1, power loss
Pastor Maldonado, Retired lap 1, accident

After the promise of both cars getting into Q3 on Saturday, Lotus's race could not have been worse. Maldonado was the innocent victim in the first corner melee between Raikkonen, Sainz and Nasr, and was out immediately. Grosjean at least made it back to the pit lane, but he too retired on the opening lap with power loss.


Will Stevens, did not start
Roberto Merhi, did not start

Marussia's 11th-hour rescue meant it was always going to be an uphill battle to be ready for Australia. They deserve credit for getting their cars to the garage at Melbourne, but that was as far as they got as both Stevens and Merhi spent the weekend on the sidelines due to software issues.