Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes – 8

Lewis Hamilton may have continued his stunning Australia qualifying record on Saturday by taking his sixth consecutive pole for the race, but a third win at Albert Park eluded him once again. A sluggish start allowed Valtteri Bottas to grab the lead, after which Hamilton never got close to his teammate. Floor damage compromised his race, but the 20-second gap to Bottas was sizeable.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes – 10

What a statement to start the year. Bottas put in a brilliant Q3 lap on Saturday to sit on provisional pole before Hamilton’s late stunner, but was in a league of his own in the race. He managed his pace well, eking his first sting out long and getting quicker throughout to create such a buffer to the chasing pack that a second pit stop would have been possible. Easily the best display of his F1 career to date, making it too harsh to dock a point for not getting pole.

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Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari – 6

Ferrari was at a loss to explain its lack of pace in Australia, with Vettel going from pre-race favourite to finishing almost a minute down by the time the chequered flag fell. Struggles on the Medium tyre after an early first stop to try and get the undercut on Hamilton left Vettel losing chunks of time late on, having already been passed by Max Verstappen. Only kept P4 thanks to team orders after being out of touch for much of the weekend.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari – 6

Finishing fifth may have been Charles Leclerc’s career-best result, but the fact he was so disappointed with it should speak volumes. Leclerc’s race panned out in reverse to Vettel’s as he struggled early on before fighting back, clawing back 12 seconds on his teammate through the second stint. It may not have been the Ferrari debut many had envisaged, but that’s more on the team than Leclerc.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull – 9

A really strong start to the year for Max Verstappen as he notched his sixth consecutive podium, and a first for Honda power since the 2008 British Grand Prix. A strong showing in qualifying saw him split the Ferraris before doing well in the race not to fall into Vettel’s trap of pitting early. This ensured Verstappen had the tyres to push hard for the second stint and comfortably pass the Ferrari before putting pressure on Hamilton for second place. A pleasant surprise.

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull – 6

Pierre Gasly’s Red Bull career got off to a rough start in Melbourne, with a strategy cock-up by the team on Saturday causing him to drop out in Q1 and start a lowly 17th on the grid. Gasly struggled to make up places through the early part of the race – a sign that the field is more evenly-spread than before – but still looked on-course for points when he came out 11th with 20 laps to go on a fresh set of tyres. However, his failure to get past Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso was all on him. 

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault – 5

Another year of disappointment for Daniel Ricciardo on home soil. Struggles in qualifying left him P12 on the grid, and his race was practically over in a matter of seconds when he hit a gutter on the side of the track that destroyed his front wing. Sure, he was wheel-to-wheel with Perez, but should he have been on the grass that far to begin with? A weekend to forget.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault – 8

In a year that will see the real making of Nico Hulkenberg up against Ricciardo, this was a very strong way to start. Outpaced his teammate in qualifying and then made a great start in the race to launch up into the points. Hulkenberg avoided getting stuck behind Antonio Giovinazz and stayed in touch with Kevin Magnussen until late on, picking up a decent haul of points to start the year.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas – 8

Top dog for the midfielders in Melbourne, Magnussen went some way to soothing Haas’ scars from last year’s race. While he was three-tenths back from teammate Romain Grosjean in qualifying, Magnussen got ahead on the start and never looked back. He was the first to get ahead of Giovinazzi after dummying a divebomb at Turn 13, with the move paving the way for him to take a hard-earned P6 finish.

Romain Grosjean, Haas – 7

Grosjean said after the race that he thought “Australia doesn’t like me”, and after retiring due to a wheel nut issue for the second year in a row, you can understand why. Up to his slow pit stop where the problem arose, it was another good showing. He outqualified Magnussen and remained a solid seventh through the first stint, and would have been on course for a good finish.

Carlos Sainz, McLaren – 6

Not the start Carlos Sainz would have hoped for at McLaren. The Spaniard was a surprise Q1 drop-out after getting caught out behind Robert Kubica following the Williams driver’s crash, and stood little chance of rising up the order in the race when an MGU-K issue forced him to park up and retire early on. 

Lando Norris, McLaren – 7

A mixed weekend for Lando Norris on debut, but nevertheless enough to be ranked as the top rookie. He starred in qualifying on Saturday, becoming the first driver since Sainz in 2015 to reach Q3 on debut as he secured P8 on the grid. But a poor start plus a failure to get past Giovinazzi for seven laps cost him dearly in the race, allowing Lance Stroll and Daniil Kvyat to bump him out of the points. Not bad for starters, though.

Sergio Perez, Racing Point - 5

Like Norris, Perez fell into the gaggle of cars stuck behind Giovinazzi after an early pit stop, but was unable to get back on the pace when the Alfa Romeo driver pitted quickly enough, limiting him to a lowly 13th-place finish. For the apparent Racing Point team leader, being gazumped by his junior teammate wasn’t a great look.

Lance Stroll, Racing Point – 8

Things may have been looking like same old, same old for Lance Stroll after his Q1 dropout, yet he managed to produce a superb display to rise up into the points on debut for Racing Point. A long first stint meant he could drop into the gap made by Giovinazzi ahead of the early pitters, but he kept on-pace throughout the closing stages, seeing off Daniil Kvyat’s charge from behind and only finishing two seconds back from Hulkenberg in P6 at the chequered flag. A quietly impressive charge.

Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo – 7

Eighteen years on from his F1 debut for Sauber in Australia, Kimi Raikkonen was back – even if the team is known as Alfa Romeo – and impressed with a hassle-free weekend. He made Q3, qualifying ninth after being edged out by Norris. He was the first man to pit but could not get the undercut on Hulkenberg or Magnussen, leaving him trailing the duo for the remainder of the race. Some handy points to start the year all the same.

Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo – 6

A fresh start did not bring the best of results for Antonio Giovinazzi in Australia. A failure to match teammate Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying forced him into a reverse strategy, but he couldn’t keep his tyres alive to try and match either Stroll or Kvyat’s rise up the order, leaving him a lowly 15th.

Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso – 6

After a couple of setbacks in practice to start his first F1 race weekend, Albon impressed on Saturday by outqualifying teammate Kvyat, and he sat on the fringes of the points before – just like Norris and Perez – getting stuck behind Giovinazzi. He got passed by Perez as the train snaked through, meaning P14 was all he could muster at the flag.

Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso – 8

A decent return to F1 for Kvyat after 18 months away. Qualifying didn’t go to plan as he finished 15th, but a brilliant strategy call in the race allowed him to get in contention for points. Kvyat’s chances of keeping P10 looked slim when Pierre Gasly was on his tail on fresher tyres with 20 laps to go, yet the Russian held firm and soaked up the pressure for a hard-earned point.

George Russell, Williams - 7

As miserable as Williams’ weekend may have been, George Russell did very well indeed to keep his chin up and make the most of his F1 debut. He comfortably outqualified Kubica and stayed ahead throughout the race, opting for a two-stop strategy so he could use all three tyre compounds as the team continues its data gathering process.

Robert Kubica, Williams – 5

It was a comeback most thought would never happen after his rally injuries, so to see Robert Kubica back on the F1 grid was remarkable – even if the weekend itself was a struggle. Mistakes in practice and qualifying offered setbacks to a team already short on spares before sustaining front wing damage on the first lap. Kubica lost a mirror early and ended the race with three pit stops completed, leaving him three laps down.

 

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