Mercedes, despite failing to take the top prize in the recently concluded Australian Grand Prix, made a clear statement of what the team is aiming for the rest of the season. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel won his first Grand Prix title since 2015, and he is flanked by two Mercedes drivers on the podium.
Mercedes was expected to take the top honors in the Melbourne, especially since Lewis Hamilton scored the pole position with Valtteri Bottas in the third grid. However, Hamilton suffered early grip problems which forced him for an early pit stop. This allowed Vettel to take the number one spot, and the Ferrari driver never looked back.
Vettel closed the 57-lap race with a record time 1:24:11.672. Hamilton came in second with +9.975 and his teammate Bottas placed third with +11.250. Completing the top five spots are Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on fourth place and Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen on fifth.
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The Australian Grand Prix is the first race this season and the changes in the new F1 regulations were clearly visible. Changes in regulations have significant effects in aerodynamic downforce which makes it harder to tailgate.
Nearly 10 laps into the race, the Mercedes team noticed that Hamilton's car is starting to loose grip. This forced the team to call a pit stop on the 18th, a lap earlier than originally planned.
In a statement acquired by BBC, Hamilton said, "I didn't know how long the tires were going to last so I didn't want to close the gap knowing I couldn't overtake anyway and then run out of tires and lose second place."
The next leg of the 2017 Formula One season will be in Shanghai, China. The race will be on April 9 and will be held at the Shanghai International Circuit.