Making a perfect (and not so perfect) start to 2016...
Sebastian Vettel got the jump on his opposition as the lights went out for the first time in 2016, rocketing away from the line and jamming his Ferrari in between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg's Mercedes. Riding onboard with Hamilton, we can see the Briton's reaction time is actually very good - but after the revs drop, he picks up wheelspin and is helpless as Vettel and then Rosberg on the far right drift by. Hamilton's woes are compounded at Turn 1: Vettel edges Rosberg onto the dirty side of the track, causing the German to run deep into the right hander. Hamilton, on the outside, has to take avoiding action - and in fact he and Rosberg make the slightest of contact, breaking off a small piece of Hamilton's front wing. His slow exit then leaves him vulnerable all the way down the long run to Turn 3 - and Kimi Raikkonen, Max Verstappen and Felipe Massa are only too happy to take advantage.
McLaren's Jenson Button was one of the biggest losers at the start, as a stuttering getaway and a slight hesitancy under braking allowed the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson and the Renaults of Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen to move ahead. It wouldn't be long until Button was on the move, however - especially with Magnussen somehow picking up a puncture through the opening turns. Button's onboard is perfectly placed to follow Magnussen's path - at least until the run to Turn 3, when the Dane's now-sunken Renault pours out a stream of sparks right into Button's line of sight.
Palmer and Bottas go toe-to-toe
Jolyon Palmer showed no signs of being overawed by the occasion as he made his F1 race debut in Australia, demonstrating the kind of inch-perfect car control and race craft that carried him to the GP2 title in 2014. The Briton had started three places ahead of Valtteri Bottas due to the latter receiving a five-place grid drop - but by lap 12 they were running nose to tail, Bottas most definitely on the attack. It appeared that the Finn would make a move into Turn 3 stick as he barrelled around the outside of Palmer - but the Renault man hung on, and then had the right to the outside - and grippier - line through Turn 4. His exit compromised, Bottas suddenly had to wrestle oversteer and back out of the move completely, allowing Palmer momentary breathing space. It was a fleeting luxury - Bottas roared back through the next few turns, before finally executing an around-the-outside pass at Turn 9.
Fortune smiles on Alonso
When the TV cameras first panned to Esteban Gutierrez's stricken Haas, it wasn't clear exactly what type of incident we were looking at - that is until Fernando Alonso crawled from a very battered McLaren. The replays told the story of just how scary the Spaniard's crash was - while the onboard gives a fleeting sense of just how quickly events unravel from the moment the two cars make contact. Thankfully both men were unhurt, and shared an embrace on the gravel trap as they surveyed the extraordinary - and alarming - wreckage.
The Iceman feels the heat
Having followed his team mate's example to vault from fourth to second at the start, Kimi Raikkonen looked well set for a podium in the 2016 opener - right up until lap 23 that is, when he suddenly slowed and headed for the pits. We didn't have to wait long for the reason to emerge - in fact flames began belching from the Finn's air intake before he had even pulled to a halt outside the Ferrari garage, prompting some nifty work from the men with the extinguishers.
Toro Rosso's gang attack
Palmer was in the thick of the fight later on in the race too, fending off Toro Rosso duo Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen superbly for several laps. The two Red Bull juniors were in no mood to hang about though - with his ears burning from Verstappen's gripes, and under duress from team instructions to 'push' or switch positions, Sainz finally makes a superb move stick under braking at Turn 1. Having complained his team mate was 'taking too long', Verstappen makes sure he pounces at the first opportunity - he has the run on Palmer down to Turn 3, and while the Briton defends superbly, Verstappen is absolutely inch-perfect on the brakes, edging around the outside of Palmer to snatch 10th, and with it the final point of the race.