Almost but not quite.
After storming ahead of the two Mercedes cars from the second row during the opening lap of the Australian Grand Prix, Ferrari was confident that it could score its first victory for the 2016 season. That was before the red flag for the crash between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez.
According to a report published in Autosport, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen surged ahead from the second row of the grid to lead the opening lap of the race. The four-time champion Vettel was even able to maintain a 2.5-second lead over the two Mercedes cars.
However, opting to go on super soft tyres which mean an additional stop, Vettel finished the race in third with Nico Rosberg emerging as the winner. The Mercedes team went on medium tyres during the restart which meant they could go all the way to the checkered flag. Vettel’s teammate Raikkonen retired due to a mechanical problem.
Team Ferrari were quite confident of a race win after the pair of Prancing Horses blew by Nico Rosberg. World champion Lewis Hamilton had a poor start and found himself dropping all the way to sixth place. According to team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, they were confident that they would win the opening race. “On the pit wall we were confident in all honesty. We were looking at the strategy and we were quite comfortable,” Arrivabene said.
However, things fell apart for the Scuderia when the race had to be halted for 20 minutes during the 17th lap when McLaren Fernando Alonso clipped the tail of Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez causing a crash. After the restart, Vettel managed the 24-second lead he had on Rosberg. However, running on super soft tyres as compared to the mediums of the Mercedes, the four time champion had to pit on the 35th lap thus surrendering the lead to Rosberg. He was also passed by Hamilton, who had already recovered and made his way back to the leaders.
“We went for the aggressive route. Maybe with hindsight we could have done something else but I don’t want to put the blame on anyone, “ Vettel said after the race.
“It’s a shame the other car didn’t make it but it is positive. We know we can up our game and put pressure on these guys,” he added.
Photo Courtesy: Alberto Rovi/Wikimedia Commons.org