Valtteri Bottas crushed the competition to win the Australian GP as Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari struggled at the F1 2019 season-opener.
Bottas, a distant third in the championship and without a victory last year, overtook Hamilton off the line and went on to win the race ahead of his pole-sitting team-mate by more than 20 seconds.
The Finn also took the maximum 26 points available after setting the fastest lap.
Hamilton never seemed comfortable in his Mercedes, which the team subsequently claimed was damaged, and only just held off a charging Max Verstappen in the Red Bull for second place.
Verstappen’s impressive display in Red Bull’s first race with Honda engines included a sensational overtake on Sebastian Vettel, with Ferrari finishing almost a minute behind race-winner Bottas.
Vettel challenged Hamilton at the start of the race but drastically fell back, and was fortunate to hold onto fourth place as Ferrari instructed Charles Leclerc not to attack.
Although second place and sealing a Mercedes one-two was decent consolation for Hamilton, it’s certainly not what the world champion had in mind when lining up on pole position.
The world champion’s start was solid, but Bottas’ was spectacular. And from there the Finn put his foot down, immediately opening up a one-second advantage. Hamilton didn’t manage to match his team-mate’s pace until Lap 11 and by that point Bottas was already three seconds ahead.
That gap would normally see Bottas given preference on a pit-stop but Mercedes brought Hamilton in first, on Lap 16, as they responded to Ferrari’s early stop with the chasing Vettel.