Mercedes enjoyed a dominant start to the 2019 Formula One season, with Valtteri Bottas winning the Australian Grand Prix ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari team never troubled the leaders.
The Finnish driver started second on the grid but flew past Hamilton at the start of the race and never looked like letting his lead slip.
“I don’t know what just happened,” said Bottas after picking up his first race win since 2017 after spending last season in the shadow of Hamilton. “I don’t know what to say. It was definitely my best race ever. I felt so good and the car was so good.”
Bottas also ensured he claimed the new fastest lap bonus point, reclaiming that on the penultimate lap from Max Verstappen, who finished third.
German driver Sebastian Vettel was a fairly distant fourth after Verstappen eased past him just past the halfway point but it appeared team orders from Ferrari stopped his new teammate Charles Leclerc from going past him.
“I guess we were just slow,” said Vettel. “I didn’t have much chance to fight anyone becasue I was quite slow.”
The dominance of Bottas in particular raises the notion that Mercedes, who have won the last five constructor’s championship, will once again dominate and Hamilton said he was pleased for his teammate.
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“It’s a good weekend for the team so I have to be happy for everyone, and Valtteri drove an incredible race today, and deserved it,” Hamilton said.
“It’s a great start to the year and it’s what we could have hoped for for the team. I had Max covered behind me, and I had some ideas of where the pace went, but I’ll go through it with my engineers afterwards.”
The second race of the season is in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.