Lewis Hamilton felt satisfied with second place in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix after fighting back from a poor start to follow home Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg at the checkered flag.
Hamilton started the opening race of the season from pole position, but made a sluggish getaway to drop down to sixth at the end of the first lap.
Hamilton fought his way back up to fifth before pitting, having already been passed by net race leader Sebastian Vettel to put the Briton a stop behind.
Mercedes moved Hamilton onto a one-stop strategy that was aided by a red flag period called after a terrifying crash between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez.
Hamilton made his medium tires last until the end of the race, and although he could not keep pace with Rosberg at the front, he did manage to fend off Vettel in the closing stages to complete a Mercedes one-two.
“I love the fact that we had to come from far behind, it was a tricky race,” Hamilton said.
“I’m really happy to get this result, it’s great for the team. I’ve had it much worse in the first race. I take this as a real bonus to come back from seventh.”
Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.
“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”
Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.
The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.
Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.
Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.
Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.
Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.
Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”