Ferrari, Vettel opt for winning strategy at Australian Grand Prix

Indo Asian News Service

Melbourne, March 26 (IANS) Ferrari and its German driver Sebastian Vettel opted for a winning strategy on Sunday at the Australian Grand Prix here, managing to snatch the 43rd victory of his career.

The race was decided in pit lanes, with Mercedes opting for a risky strategy by having United Kingdom's Lewis Hamilton come in early on lap 17 with a clear lead ahead of Vettel in second, reports Efe.

Mercedes' gamble did not pay off as Vettel took the lead from Hamilton when the Brit emerged from the pit lanes behind him, Bottas (also Mercedes), Finnish Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) and Dutch Max Verstappen (Red Bull).

Vettel, on the other hand, was able to delay the tire change and maintain his lead with Hamilton stuck in traffic behind him.

However, the Briton managed to claw his way back into second place ahead of Bottas in third and Raikkonen in fourth.

Verstappen took fifth, Brazilian Felipe Massa (Williams) took sixth, and the Mexican Sergio Perez (Force India) finished seventh.

The victory of Vettel and Ferrari comes after a year of Mercedes dominance, who won 19 out of 21 races in 2016.

None of the Ferrari drivers had made it to the top of the podium since Vettel won the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.

Sunday's victory came 10 years after Ferrari won its last race in Melbourne, when the Finn Kimi Raikkonen was the last Ferrari driver to win the World Championship in 2007.

Spain's Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) finished eighth ahead of his Russian teammate Daniil Kvat and France's Esteban Ocon (Force India), who closed the points zone at 10th place after overtaking the Spaniard Fernando Alonso (McLaren-Honda), who was forced to abandon three laps from the end due to a mechanical problem.

Commenting on the race, Vettel said: "There is a long, long way ahead but for now we are over the moon. It has been a hard winter and an incredible race today."

"I was a bit nervous at the start and Lewis was better, then I had to take care of Valtteri in turn one, then I had to keep the pressure on, to get the message that we are here and we are here to fight," the German added.