Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton began his 2015 F1 campaign in great style to win the first race of the new season at the Albert Park in Melbourne on March 15, 2015. With his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg close on his heels for the second place, it was once again the Mercedes, who began with a dominance and acquired the 1-2 finish at the season-opener Australian GP. While Hamilton and Rosberg creamed the headlines, Sebastian Vettel made a remarkable comeback in his first season with Ferrari by taking the third place and sharing the podium with Hamilton and Rosberg. In the qualifying on previous day too, Vettel had taken the fourth place behind Hamilton, Rosberg and Felipe Massa and just ahead of his Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen. After an eminently forgettable 2014 season, his last with Red Bull, Vettel appears determined to regain his old F1 glory. His helplessness can only come from the superior Mercedes machines but the Ferrari is no mean car either.
After taking the top pole position in the qualifying on Saturday, Hamilton led from the start in Sunday’s race. His team-mate Nico Rosberg was hot on his trail but Hamilton ensured that he kept at least one second’s margin at most times. On a few occasions, Rosberg came close to challenging Hamilton but the reigning world champion remained in perfect control over the entire 58 laps of the Albert Park circuit. During this period Hamilton had change of tyres, managed the fuel levels and kept his Mercedes W06 Hybrid engine in top shape. For the former world champion Sebastian Vettel, the career with Ferrari began on a positive note. Beginning with a satisfactory performance in the qualifying sessions, Vettel kept his car behind the two Mercedes drivers. But he couldn’t help the technical aspects that reflected in a margin of over 30 seconds that Mercedes’ Hamilton and Rosberg had over Vettel’s Ferrari.
There are many old-time observers, who feel that the change of engine configuration introduced before the start of the 2014 season has given Mercedes a lop-sided advantage. As per them, Mercedes has transcended into a category of one-horse race, killing fair competition for good. That was evident in Mercedes’ 2014 performance while the rivals have continued to struggle. In Sunday’s race, Valtteri Bottas of Williams was ruled out with a back injury from qualifying onwards while Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat and Kevin Magnussen in McLaren suffered technical issues on their way to the grid. For the first time since 1963 Monaco Grand Prix, the season began with a field of just 15 cars. Then at the end of first lap, two more cars went out. Pastor Maldonado came off after the first corner collision and Romain Grosjean was forced to leave his Lotus before the end of the first lap. In fact the chain of collision began, when Kimi Raikkonen nudged team-mate Vettel and slowed the passage of Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso. Maldonado’s was the last car in the collisions. Safety car came out to allow the marshals to clear Grosjean’s Lotus before racing resumed on lap four.
However, Hamilton comfortably continued in the lead as before with Rosberg and Williams’ Felipe Massa in pursuit. A little later Carlos Sainz dropped from fifth to seventh place and Raikkonen was the first to go to the pits to get some clean air. Kimi had a set of soft tyres, which allowed him to log the fastest laps but yet again he pulled to one side because the left rear tyre was not properly fitted. Most drivers adopted a one-pit-stop strategy. It was after his single pit-stop that helped Vettel to go ahead of Massa. The Williams driver tried to regain his place but only managed to finish 3.6 seconds slower than Vettel at the chequered flag. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr took the fifth place ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo; Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was seventh; Marcus Ericsson of Sauber was eighth; Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso ninth and Sergio Perez of Force India took the tenth and the final spot.