Though it may have been the Lewis Hamilton Show throughout Formula One practice and qualifying this weekend, it was Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who took the top spot on the podium after the Australian Grand Prix season opener Sunday.
The Mercedes driver started second and got off a great start, immediately racing to the inside of pole-sitter Hamilton on the run to the first corner to seize the lead of the race. He never looked back for the remainder of the race as his teammate, nor Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, could keep up.
“I don’t know what just happened,” Bottas said. “I don’t know what to say. It was definitely my best race ever. It felt so good and the car was so good”.
The win was the fourth of Bottas’ career and first since his victory in the season-finale Abu Dhabi GP in 2017.
Hamilton finished second in the Australian Grand Prix for the fourth consecutive season, holding off Max Verstappen, who took third and gave Honda its first podium since the 2008 British GP.
“I had to overtake [Vettel] to get the podium, which isn’t easy around here,” Verstappen said. “To start the season on the podium challenging Mercedes is very good for us”.
Rounding out the top five were Vettel in fourth, and teammate Charles Leclerc in fifth. Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen finished sixth, Nico Hulkenberg placed seventh in his Renault, and Kimi Raikkonen was eighth in his first GP driving for Alfa Romeo.
Lando Norris, 19, had a respectable finish of 12th in his first Grand Prix for McLaren.
Robert Kubica was the final driver to finish the race in 17th, three laps down. The Williams driver was making his first start since the 2010 season, having missed the last eight seasons because of a serious hand injury sustained in a rallying crash in 2011.
Of the three drivers to retire, the most notable was Perth, Australia, native Daniel Riccardo. The Aussie went into the grass off the start, losing his front wing. He pitted early to replace it but eventually retired on Lap 31 as a precaution.
Full results are below. The next race the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 31.