2017 Australian GP: Vettel first to the flag - as it happened
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That's it from me - stay tuned for Jake Nichol's race report. But, I've been James Eagles. We'll do this again in a fortnight - for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Thanks for joining, bye for now.

And the Constructors' Championship.

Position Constructor Points
1 Ferrari 37
2 Mercedes 33
3 Red Bull 10
4 Williams 8
5 Force India 7

A look at the Drivers' Championship. It's fairly rudimentary to work out.

Position Driver Constructor Points
1 Sebastian VETTEL Ferrari 25
2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes 18
3 Valtteri BOTTAS Mercedes 15
4 Kimi RAIKKONEN Ferrari 12
5 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull 10

After an underwhelming pre-season, and even Kvyat's fire extinguisher going off around 20 minutes before the formation lap, Toro Rosso had a good race.

Sainz finished eighth, Kvyat ninth - after that late, forced stop.

Well done to Esteban Ocon, who gets his first F1 points on his Force India debut.

McLaren looked good for points. And then it all went wrong...

As for the racing - well it wasn't bad, was it? Overtaking is normally hard around here, but we saw moves. Even got three cars side-by-side down the straight. Well done to everyone for conducting themselves in a fair manner, which isn't always the case on the first weekend.

Well done to Antonio Giovinazzi - 12th place may be the penultimate classified place, but he had a stellar first weekend, considering he only found out that he's be racing before FP3. Will we see him become a more regular fixture in the coming seasons? Maybe in a Ferrari in time...

So, the first race of a new era is now complete. What a fantastic drive by Vettel - just what the sport wanted.

Hamilton and Mercedes simply had no answer, Bottas did well though, to really put the pressure on Hamilton and claim his 10th podium too.

Hamilton will really feel that this is a missed opportunity.

We get to hear the German anthem followed by the Italian anthem.

Tissues at the ready.

Ferrari's first win since Singapore 2015!

L57: And Michael Schumacher Sebastian Vettel wins the Australian Grand Prix!

L57: HERE COMES VETTEL, into sector 3.

L57: Final lap. Verstappen asks "How much faster is the fastest lap?"

"Too fast" replies Gianpiero Lambiase.

L56: Another German Ferrari driver looks to be in control. Two laps to go for Vettel. 10.5 seconds is the gap.

L55: Three laps to go. Michael Schumacher's lap record from 2004 is still intact, to many's surprise.

L54: Alonso is now out...two laps ago he was in the points for goodness sake.

L53: Jokes aside, Alonso may have a slow puncture.

Onto Magnussen, suspension failure ended his race.

L52: That's classic McLaren. They fail to defend from Ocon and all of a sudden Hulkenberg passes Alonso for good measure. Ocon is in the points, Alonso says "There's something f***ing wrong with this car".

We all know that.

L52: Alonso' 10th place is under threat from Ocon.

He was the last man to pit, and they had to top up on fluid. He's still in the points.

L50: Double blow for Haas as Magnussen pulls over in the same place as Ericsson did 27 laps earlier.

Kvyat...has pit?

L49: Niki Lauda has reportedly admitted on Italian TV that Ferrari and Vettel are simply quicker today.

L49: Nine laps to go for Sebastian Vettel.

L47: Vettel makes his way past Kvyat - Perez next.

L46: Something's flapping about on Perez' engine cover. Looks to be just cosmetic though.

L46: Bottas' pace has dropped off a bit. Has he used up his tyres?

L44: Verstappen sets the fastest lap - 1:26.964

L44: The Canadian's first race looks to be over.

L44: Stroll has problems.

L43: "Hamilton still complaining about tyres, Kim-"


I don't think he cares.

?L41: Maybe not, his pace has picked up again slightly. But Verstappen is still gaining.

L40: I have an inkling Raikkonen has a problem. He's around 1.5 seconds a lap slower than the rest of the top 5.

L40: Vettel is carving his way through traffic with ease. Bottas is still within touching distance of Hamilton.

L38: Bottas is flying, the fastest man on track at the moment.

L36: "Tyres looking like they're holding out. Looks like we're staying on Plan A."

L35: Bottas is closing slowly on Hamilton. But, he's coming up to the traffic the Brit has just passed.

L33: Pete Bonnington asks for a half-a-second improvement per lap from Hamilton.

L31: We're a couple of laps over the halfway mark, the top 10 looks like this: Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Kvyat, Massa, Perez, Sainz, Alonso.

L30: Poor Daniel. He walks away to a great reception.

L29: "Okay Daniel, P0; sorry mate, car's done."

L29: I don't think he;s going anywhere. Still in the car though.

L28: Ricciardo is stopped at what looks like Turn 4.

L28: Replay of Vandoorne running wide at Turn 3. What a nice birthday present.

L27: Hamilton is toying with a two-stop. Is that viable?

L26: In comes Raikkonen, the final front-runner to pit. He puts on soft tyres.

L25: As does Verstappen. Bottas puts on softs, Verstappen super-soft.

L25: In comes Bottas from the lead.

L25: "There's nothing left in these tyres."

Hamilton still unhappy.

L24: Marcus Ericsson has stopped before Turn 13.

L24: Verstappen has a go at Vettel at Turn 3, he's pushed towards the grass and can't get it done. Hamilton still behind!

It's a good stop and Vettel rejoins ahead of Verstappen AND Hamilton!


L23: "I can't pass this guy."

"I'm struggling now."

Hamilton and Verstappen have their own problems.

L23: Ferrari have opted to leave Vettel out. He's coming up to the battling Stroll and Hulkenberg - will that cost him the race?

L22: "Okay Lewis, this is race critical, we need to get past Verstappen. Gap to Vettel is safe."

"Ah, I can't do that right now."

He's really not happy.

L21: Perez puts a bold move over Sainz at Turn 3 for 8th. He clipped the Toro Rosso's front wing, doesn't look like he has a puncture though.

L20: Hamilton is coming up to Verstappen. "Still a lot of understeer," he moans. "Is the floor okay?"

Suggests he's been off somewhere.

L20: "Tyres look very happy like this, you're doing well." A bit of encouragement for Seb.

L19: Sainz in the pits.

L19: Vettel put in the fastest final sector of all. Then Hamilton beats it.

L18: Good news for Ferrari, Vettel is past Ericsson and Hamilton is in traffic. Palmer retires, Perez and Alonso pit.

L17: Hamilton pits! Vettel is stuck behind Ericsson, Hamilton puts on the soft tyres and it's a quick stop at 3.3 seconds. He rejoins in 5th.

L17: Vettel is now within a second of Hamilton.

L16: Giovinazzi in the pits, Palmer's problems brings out the yellow flags for a second. It seems that his brakes are locking by themselves.

L16: Vettel is still staying within 1.5 seconds of Hamilton.

L15: Grosjean comes in to the pits, engine smoking and he is out. What a shame, from 7th position.

L13: Enticing battle for 14th between Giovinazzi and Stroll.

L13: No further action on Magnussen/Ericsson incident.

L12: "Problem, problem." Palmer is struggling for the third day running - brake issues seem to be the hampering problem.

He's doing a lot of whinging, but Hamilton's pace isn't really suffering. Only a tenth between Vettel's lap time and his - albeit in favour of the German.

L11: "Tyres are overheating." Another message from Hamilton.

L10: Vandoorne in the pits. He puts on a set of soft tyres. He has a lot of trouble getting away - he even has to restart the engine manually. Will his dashboard display return?

L10: Stroll puts a good move on Ericsson for 17th.

L10: Vettel sets a new fastest lap - a 1:28.234.

L8: "A [1:]28.000 is not possible." says Hamilton.

L7: Correction, we've beaten it. It was a 1:28.997, set by Ricciardo. Don't think he'll be fastest today though.

On to Michael's record, will we see a sub 1:24.125 laps?

L6: We're edging closer to the fastest lap from last year already. Hamilton does a 1:28.786.

L5: Despite not having grip, Hamilton is easing away now.

L5: "Struggling for grip."

Hamilton voices his concerns again.

L4: Kvyat complains that the DRS is not working for him. He wasn't within a second of Perez, so that's probably why.

The stewards are investigating the Magnussen/Ericsson incident.

L4: "My downshifts are not working."

More problems on a wretched weekend for Vandoorne.

L3: Out comes Ricciardo, two laps down.

L2: Vettel is still on Hamilton's tail.

L1: Magnussen has a puncture.

L1: WE'RE UNDERWAY FOR 2017! For all his complaints, Hamilton gets a great start, Vettel is second, Bottas third, Raikkonen fourth, Verstappen fifth. Ericsson and Magnussen are off at Turn 3. For the wider cars, I'm surprised everyone got through the tight Turn 1.

Perez passes Kvyat in the midfield at Turn 9.

"Grip feels poor on the grid."

Hamilton is not too happy.

The man to blame is Nico Hulkenberg for taking the wrong grid slot.

We have an aborted start, which means we an extra formation lap. I believe we now have 57 laps.

That won't last.

Let's take a look at the Drivers' Championship in order to cheer McLaren fans up.

Position Name Constructor Team
1 Stoffel VANDOORNE McLaren 0
2 Daniel RICCIARDO Red Bull 0
3 Sebastian VETTEL Ferrari 0
4 Kimi RAIKKONEN Ferrari 0
5 Romain GROSJEAN Haas 0

It's 4 o'clock local time and we leave for the formation lap.

Ricciardo is in his car. There may be hope after all.

What was Red Bull's launch slogan for the RB13? "Unlucky for some."

How ironic.

Contrarily - Grosjean is very smiley.

Ricciardo's nightmare weekend could well be over in a moment. His car is in the garage, stuck in sixth gear with a sensor problem. Could his race be over before it begins? The capacity crowd will hope not.

We're around 10 minutes away from the formation lap in Melbourne and the start of a new era in Formula 1.

I'm James Eagles - if you're in the UK, very well done for getting up on time!

Hello, and welcome back to VAVEL's live stream commentary of the Australian Grand Prix.

So that's it for now, join me bright an early UK folks at 5:30am. Remember, the clocks go forward an hour - so you have an hour less in bed. Oh glory be!

But you won't want to miss any of this.

Lewis Hamilton: "These new cars are so fun to drive. This track is incredible as it is, but having that grip we have now... [Turns] 11 and 12...oof! I wish that you could feel how crazy fast it is! To be honest, my last lap through there wasn't that good - generally through the weekend, it has been good."

Sebastian Vettel: "You always want to fight for the win. I think whoever is at the front is doing a good job and certainly [Mercedes and Hamilton]  has done a good job the last couple of years. So, [Hamilton's] the one to beat again today but the year is long. We had a fairly competitive car the last couple of years, but we're getting there."

Valtteri Bottas: "I felt good. I'm feeling better today than yesterday, but still didn't quite get the perfect lap. It is a tricky place to get a lap right and it's easy to have three or so tenths time lost, if you don't get everything perfect. Historically this place has been quite poor for me. I think P15 has been the best for me before, so it's a step forward!"

This is very much a journey into the unknown for everyone, and leaves the watching world licking their lips in anticipation. Will Mercedes continue their dominance or can Ferrari take the fight to them? Have Red Bull got any pace at all and who will win a very close midfield battle?

We go back to 2002 for a carnage packed race that saw a certain young Finn claim his first podium for McLaren.

Can Kimi Raikkonen get a repeat of that third place 15 years ago? The odds are stacked against him, having been eight tenths off of third place in Qualifying; but never say never.

New boys Toyota were finally ready for a crack at the big time, three years after announcing their intentions to join Formula 1 - with a driver pairing of Mika Salo and Allan McNish.

Raikkonen was one of few driver changes as many teams kept their 2001 line-up. His seat at Sauber was assumed by Felipe Massa. I wonder where he is now...

As they did the previous year, Ferrari locked out the front row in an updated version of the F2001. This time it was Rubens Barrichello from Michael Schumacher. However, that order wasn't to stay for long. Around 500 metres, in fact.

Believe me, there are more cars the other side of the camera. | Photo: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz
Believe me, there are more cars the other side of the camera. | Photo: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz

From the start, Ralf Schumacher hassled Barrichello, but the Brazilian's early braking caught Schumacher Jr. out, as he catapulted over the top of the Ferrari and came to rest by the far tyre wall. That set off a chain reaction, with eight cars retiring on the spot. When the Safety Car pulled in at the end of lap six, David Coulthard lead from Jarno Trulli, Juan Pablo Montoya, Schumacher Sr and the Jaguar duo of Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa.

Arrows' final season got off to the worst start - both Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi disqualified for separate infringements.

Whilst attacking Trulli, Montoya ran wide at Turn 1, giving Schumacher third place and a run at the Renault, but a traction control error saw the Italian hit the wall three laps later, handing second place to the German. Schumacher also benefitted from another stroke of luck, Coulthard's gearbox failing. But, he had to hold of a typically fired up Montoya, who could have won, but for running wide on a patch of oil - allowing Schumacher to eat up the miles and build an unassailable lead.

At the end, the best battle on track saw a young Mark Webber in his Minardi fending off Salo for fifth. The Finn spun at Turn 3 in the closing laps, ensuring the popular Aussie scored points on his debut - at home to boot.

Schumacher won - and earned his record equalling fifth world title by Round 10, from Montoya and Raikkonen. Irvine took fourth in a rare high for Jaguar - Webber and Salo rounded out the points. Just eight cars finished.

Montoya (L) had no answer to Schumacher's pace. | Photo: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz
Montoya (L) had no answer to Schumacher's pace. | Photo: Getty Images/Andreas Rentz

Will we see such carnage with wider cars thus year?

Just like 2014, we see a major shake up in the rules. The maligned V6 turbo hybrid power units stay, but the cars around them are very different animals. Wider, longer, faster and more aggressive with chunkier tyres - Bernie Ecclestone's vision has come to life, creating a much needed air of excitement around the new season.

One of the most notable changes comes in the tyres, wider at the front and back. The front tyres have changed from a width of 245mm, to 305mm. The rears hark back to the 70s and 80s, changing from 325mm to 405mm. This encourages a larger contact patch for the tyre, thus resulting in more grip. Furthermore, Pirelli expect the tyres to last longer, with one-stop races the most likely outcome.

The rear wings look more akin to the pre-2009 cars, lowered by 150mm and stretched by 200mm. The endplates slant backwards, bringing an increase of 200mm in length. As for the front wing, they've brought back at the perimeter by 150mm, and are more arrow-like in shape. The noses are narrower too.

The width of the car has been increased to pre-1998 levels - standing at 2 metres. So, whilst the cars look more menacing, stylish and faster, overtaking may be at a premium.

The emphasis on aerodynamics has been increased. An S-Duct at the front of the car features on most models, and the bargeboards have been made larger. We also see a return to shark fins. However, we say hello to T-Wings at the back of them, an unfortunate development made by many of the teams.

Speaking of Saturday's hotly-anticipated hour, it didn't disappoint. For all the details and time, check out my Qualifying report here.

For a small rundown, Hamilton claimed pole by two tenths from the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, on his Silver Arrows debut after his move from Williams. McLaren endured another trying Saturday; Fernando Alonso managed to drag the new orange car to 13th - Stoffel Vandoorne encountered problems, only able to start 18th.

In regards to the debutants, Lance Stroll will start last for Williams - down from 19th - after a gearbox change as a result of a scrape with the wall at Turn 10. Antonio Giovinazzi - deputising at Sauber - put up a brilliant display, narrowly missing out on Q2.

And now, for a look at the past ten winners here. Can Lewis Hamilton grab his third win around here from pole position?

Year Driver Constructor
2016 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2015 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2014 Nico Rosberg Mercedes
2013 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus
2012 Jenson Button McLaren
2011 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
2010 Jenson Button McLaren
2009 Jenson Button Brawn
2008 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
2007 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

Situated around the man-made Albert Park lake, this temporary street circuit offers a really different challenge to the drivers and cars after spending the winter in Barcelona. Away from the coolish European climate, the air temperature is expected to hit a very nice 26° by the time we get to lights out.

Photo: Wikipedia

A track that evolves and gets quicker across the weekend, click here for the full guide to each of the 16 turns and 3.2 miles of track.

Hello and welcome to VAVEL's live coverage of the 2017 Formula One Rolex Australian Grand Prix. Just like last year, I'm your correspondent James Eagles and will be guiding you through all the events of tomorrow's Grand Prix from the wonderful Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne, Victoria, for the opening race in an wonderfully poised 2017 season.