After starting on pole position Lewis Hamilton came home in a hard fought second place, showing great character to battle through the field from P7 after a poor getaway.
Unlike Hamilton, Vettel got off to a dream start and overtook both Silver Arrows before the first corner as his team-mate slotted into second place. Vettel and Raikkonen appeared in complete control and maintained the gap back to the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in third place.
Ferrari were to be undone by a strategic mistake after the race had been red flagged due a crash between Alonso and Gutierrez. Under red flag conditions the teams are allowed to change the tyres in preparation for the restart. Both Ferrari’s opted for supersofts whilst Rosberg went for the medium tyres which ultimately proved an inspired decision.
The red flag was brought out as a result of Alonso suffering a spectacular crash as he hit the back of Esteban Gutierrez’s car. This sent his car veering into the wall before digging into the gravel and summersaulting into the wall. Amazingly both drivers were unhurt and walked away from the crash unaided which is a real testament to how far F1 safety has come.
Daniel Ricciardo delighted the crowd by finishing in fourth position to match Mark Webber’s previous record for the highest finishing position by an Australian in the Australian GP. Felipe Massa finished a distant fifth almost one minute off the pace.
The Australian GP saw the introduction of an official ‘driver of the day’ voted for by the fans. The inaugural winner of this prize was the well deserving Romain Grosjean. He brought his Haas car home in sixth place in the American team’s first ever Formula One race, the result was even more impressive as he started in P17 on the grid. They executed the perfect strategy during the red flag period and managed to keep many more experienced teams behind them once the race got restarted.
Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas came home in seventh and eighth ahead of the Toro Rosso pair of Sainz and Verstappen. Verstappen voiced his annoyance over team radio as he believed the strategy that he had been given gave his team mate an unfair advantage. With so little to choose between the two drivers this could be a common theme throughout the season.
Renault narrowly missed out on points on their first race back as a full constructer and despite McLaren making a clear step forward compared to last season they were still unable to finish inside of the top ten as Button came home P14.
2016 Australian GP results
1. N. Rosberg, Mercedes, 57 laps
2. L. Hamilton, Mercedes, +8.060
3. S. Vettel, Ferrari, +9.643
4. D. Ricciardo, Red Bull, +24.440
5. F. Massa, Williams, +58.979
6. R. Grosjean, Haas, +1:12.081
7. N. Hulkenberg, Force India, +1.14.199
8. V. Bottas, Williams, +1:15.153
9. C. Sainz, Toro Rosso, +1:15.680
10. M. Verstappen, Toro Rosso, 1:16.833
11. J. Palmer, Renault, +1:23.399
12. K. Magnussen, Renault, +1:25.606
13. S. Perez, Force India, +1:31.699
14. J. Button, McLaren, +1 lap
15. F. Nasr, Sauber, +1 lap
16. P. Wehlrein, Manor, +1 lap
DNF M. Ericsson, Sauber, Not Classified
DNF K. Raikkonen, Ferrari, Not Classified
DNF R. Haryanto, Manor, Not Classified
DNF E. Gutierrez, Haas, Not Classified
DNF F. Alonso, McLaren, Not Classified
DNF D. Kvyat, Red Bull, Not Classified