Mercedes are the team to catch again as Ferrari continue to struggle | Giles Richards

Victory for Valtteri Bottas at the Australian GP left Sebastian Vettel in the shade as F1’s new regulations left the drivers cold in Melbourne

Already conspiracy theories abound that Mercedes had been involved in an elaborate plot to mask their true form through the entire pre-season. Yet while such a monumentally impressive piece of sandbaggery would be an achievement of which they could be proud, the truth is more prosaic. Everyone involved, Toto Wolff, James Allison, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were all surprised by the advantage they held over Ferrari in Australia. Seven tenths was Hamilton’s lead over Sebastian Vettel in qualifying. They have simply once again done a ruthlessly efficient job of adapting to new regulations and coming out on top. What they showed in Melbourne with the surprise victory from Valterri Bottas was that their car, in favourable conditions is currently the best on the grid and as things stand, by some distance. Which is not to say they already have it sewn up. As Wolff acknowledged, Albert Park is an unusual circuit and finding the sweet spot of the new cars is tricky. Mercedes had it nailed but performance in Melbourne is no guarantee for a season.

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Source: Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton vows to learn from Australian GP travails

  • ‘Positive things to take from race,’ says Mercedes driver
  • Hamilton came second in season opener in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton has said he will be heading straight back to the Mercedes factory in the UK to participate in an investigation into the issues he faced at the Australian Grand Prix. Hamilton was second to his teammate Valtteri Bottas but had a poor start and suffered damage early in the race that cost him performance. Mercedes were dominant in Melbourne but Hamilton also warned that he still believed the championship battle would be a three-way fight with Ferrari and Red Bull.

Bottas scored an emphatic win, having beaten Hamilton off the start line and into the first corner after the British driver suffered from some wheelspin. The Finn then dominated the race and deservedly took the chequered flag but Hamilton revealed afterwards he had lost downforce after sustaining damage to the floor of his car on lap four.

Related: ‘My critics need to look in the mirror’ – Bottas hits out after Australian GP win

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Source: Formula 1

‘My critics need to look in the mirror’ – Bottas hits out after Australian GP win

• Finn responds to detractors after victory in Melbourne
• Lewis Hamilton admits he had been outraced

Valtteri Bottas hit out at his detractors and claimed he has entered the new season with a fresh approach after an emphatic win at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Finn won the opening race of the 2019 campaign ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who acknowledged he had been outraced by Bottas but, in finishing second, said he had been struggling with the balance of his car due to damage.

Related: Valtteri Bottas dominates Australian Grand Prix to win Formula One opener

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Source: Formula 1

Valtteri Bottas dominates Australian Grand Prix to win Formula One opener

  • Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton finishes second
  • Max Verstappen completes podium, with Ferraris in fourth and fifth

Valtteri Bottas took the win for Mercedes in the opening race of the Formula One season at the Australian Grand Prix. The Finn started in second but having beaten teammate Lewis Hamilton off the line, dominated from the front and the British driver could manage only second. Max Verstappen gave Red Bull and their engine supplier Honda cause for optimism for the forthcoming season by claiming third – in front of the two Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in fourth and fifth.

Bottas, who struggled last season without a win, thoroughly deserved his victory in Melbourne. He established a strong lead and was unchallenged by any of his rivals. He also claimed the extra point for fastest lap – a new addition to the regulations this season.

Related: Lando Norris: ‘A lot of swearing goes on generally when I am driving’

Related: Lewis Hamilton claims Australian Grand Prix pole as Mercedes shine

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Source: Formula 1

Australian Grand Prix: Formula One 2019 season opener – live!

  • Updates from race at Albert Park in Melbourne
  • Any thoughts? Get in touch with Richard on email

4.46am GMT

It would be remiss of me not to mention race director Charlie Whiting, who passed away last week. The news seemed to touch pretty much everyone involved in Formula One. Genuinely beloved. “He has been our man, the drivers’ man” – Sebastian Vettel. Here’s the Guardian report. A nice gesture on the track today too…

4.40am GMT

The size of Mercedes’ advantage over Ferrari at qualifying yesterday came as a surprise to everyone – not least the drivers themselves. Ominous stuff.

Hamilton: “It’s a real shocker. We kept working away at our pace and balance through the weekend, since Barcelona [testing] we made some really big steps forward and we brought that here and it seemed to have worked. I was not expecting to see the performance difference that we have here. It’s difficult when you have a session like that to grasp exactly what happened.”

Related: Lewis Hamilton claims Australian Grand Prix pole as Mercedes shine

4.35am GMT

1. Lewis Hamilton (ENG/MER)
2. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/MER)
3. Sebastian Vettel (GER/FER)
4. Max Verstappen (NED/RBR)
5. Charles Leclerc (MON/FER)
6. Romain Grosjean (FRA/HAA)
7. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/HAA)
8. Lando Norris (GBR/MCL)
9. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/ALF)
10. Sergio Perez (MEX/RAC)
11. Nico Hulkenberg (GER/REN)
12. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/REN)
13. Alexander Albon (THA/STR)
14. Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/ALF)
15. Daniil Kvyat (RUS/STR)
16. Lance Stroll (CAN/RAC)
17. Pierre Gasly (FRA/RBR)
18. Carlos Sainz jr (SPA/MCL)
19. George Russell (GBR/WIL)
20. Robert Kubica (POL/WIL)

4.23am GMT

Hello everyone and welcome to the start of the Formula One 2019 championship, kicking off as usual with 58 laps around Albert Park. Lights out at 4.10pm local time (5.10am GMT). Despite all the pre-championship hype about Ferrari being faster than ever and hiding pace, there was an ominous sense of deja vu yesterday when Lewis Hamilton streaked to pole with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in second (I’ll put the full grid on shortly). But hey, guess what, one qualifying session does not a season make, and there’ll certainly be plenty of twists, turns and T-bones before the season’s done. And Hamilton, more than anyone, knows that starting at the front of the grid in Melbourne can be a fickle reward – just one of the past seven Australian GPs have been won from pole. Can Sebastian Vettel turn it around and get his championship off to a flyer like last year? Can Charles Leclerc challenge Vettel at Ferrari? Can Max Verstappen take that next step up? Which team will come out on top in a tight midfield tussle? Those, and a whole chunk of other questions, should become a little clearer over the next couple of hours. In fact the only thing I can say with any certainty at the moment is it’s going to be a long season for Williams – although I’ll be among the many cheering on Robert Kubica this year.

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Source: Formula 1

Australian Grand Prix: Britain’s Lando Norris unafraid of F1 curse

Norris, the rookie McLaren driver, is the youngest British driver to compete in Formula One and admits to being fiercely – and verbally – self-critical during a race

There is a strong likelihood that regardless of how Lando Norris performs in his debut Formula One race in Australia on Sunday morning, the young British driver will at some point have turned the air in his cockpit blue. Norris is fearsomely self-critical of every aspect of his craft and brutally honest in assessing his own performances. They are traits he shares with Lewis Hamilton, the driver he hopes to emulate, and they will be absolutely invaluable at McLaren this season.

Only 19-years-old, Norris is the youngest British driver to compete in F1 and daunting a prospect as it may have been, he has acquitted himself admirably over the weekend under the intense pressure and scrutiny that comes with climbing behind the wheel of a McLaren. The first task for a rookie – to keep the car on the island – was achieved with solid runs through all three practice sessions. Perhaps unsurprising given he had done due diligence on Albert Park already, putting in over 600 laps on the simulator he has at his home in Guildford.

Related: Lewis Hamilton claims Australian Grand Prix pole as Mercedes shine

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Source: Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton claims Australian Grand Prix pole as Mercedes shine

  • Mercedes world champion sets lap record to earn pole
  • Home hero Daniel Ricciardo qualifies well down in 12th

Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the opening grand prix of the new Formula One season in Australia.

The British driver, who won his fifth world championship last year put in a magnificent lap to to secure pole at Albert Park, and complete what has thus far been a dominant performance in Melbourne.

Related: Mercedes bank on Lewis Hamilton’s sixth sense in record-seeking season | Giles Richards

Related: F1 has no plans to ban tobacco company sponsorship despite health calls

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Source: Formula 1

Mercedes bank on Lewis Hamilton’s sixth sense in record-seeking season | Giles Richards

British champion’s mental strength will again be a key asset in Mercedes’ bid for another drivers’ and constructors’ double, starting in Melbourne on Sunday

There are no illusions at Mercedes as to how tough a Formula One season lies ahead as the team principal, Toto Wolff, calmly sets out the scale of the challenge. They are attempting to become the first team to claim six consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles. Ferrari would like nothing better than to deny them and in doing so end their title drought. As they begin what is likely to be a season-long struggle this weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, Wolff was, however, relaxed and assured of one vital facet. He has the man behind the wheel who will make the difference. He has Lewis Hamilton.

The British driver took his fifth title last year and only Michael Schumacher has more with seven, a once seemingly insurmountable tally that now looks to be achievable. Hamilton and Mercedes managed to secure both titles in 2018 despite a resurgent Ferrari. That the 34-year-old had it sewn up with two races to go reflected errors by the Scuderia and their driver Sebastian Vettel, but equally just how strong Hamilton and his team were in the second half of the season.

Related: Toto Wolff: ‘Lewis Hamilton is such a complex individual”

Related: F1 2019: team-by-team guide to the cars and drivers | Giles Richards

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Source: Formula 1

F1 has no plans to ban tobacco company sponsorship despite health calls

  • WHO wants all sponsorship by tobacco companies outlawed
  • FIA and F1 ban tobacco advertising but not sponsorship
  • Hamilton on top in Australia GP practice as Vettel struggles

Jean Todt has insisted the FIA is aligned with the World Health Organisation which has called on Formula One to completely ban tobacco companies sponsoring teams even if they are not promoting cigarettes. That is despite neither Todt, the FIA president, nor Formula One’s CEO, Chase Carey, saying they plan to legislate against companies that currently do so.

Related: Robert Kubica: ‘You gain nothing from giving up. You have to adapt’

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Source: Formula 1

Charlie Whiting, Formula One race director, dies aged 66

  • Briton dies from pulmonary embolism in Melbourne
  • New season opens with Australian GP this weekend

The FIA race director, Charlie Whiting, has died as a result of a pulmonary embolism three days before the first race of the new Formula One season. He was 66.

Whiting had been race director since 1997, and was responsible for all activity on track over a race weekend, including safety, starting the race and enforcing rules and regulations.

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Source: Formula 1

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