Vettel downs Hamilton to win AGP

Ross Houston
April 3, 2017

The victory was the four-time world champion's fourth for Ferrari and his first since Singapore in 2015 and his 43rd career win.

"It's a long, long way ahead but for now we're just over the moon ..."

Vettel, who started alongside pole-sitter Hamilton, had said after qualifying he hoped for a good start to reel in Mercedes. Right now it looks like we have equal machinery.

"There was a bit of luck that Lewis came out in traffic".

Hamilton congratulated Vettel on his success, and said the result boded well for a close championship fight between Mercedes and Ferrari.

It was a tough day for Red Bull's home racer Daniel Ricciardo, who started off with a five-grid penalty for a gearbox change and then had to retire with smoke billowing from his auto on turn three midway through the race.

Ferrari's impressive performance and strategy in Melbourne reflected an encouraging pre-season in which the team appeared to be in a better position than recent years to take the fight to Mercedes. But I was struggling with grip from the get-go. It's just the beginning and there's still a lot of work going on. "I think a key to delivering a great vehicle, which we obviously have".

Unfortunately, drivers Kevin Magnussen and Grosjean suffered DNFs in their new Haas VF-17s. Both cars continued on in the race.

Vettel added: "I have great respect for Lewis".

Vettel was equally complimentary.

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".

After three years with the same Silver Arrow out in front you could argue having a different auto atop the podium is just what Formula One needs. He took the lead when Hamilton dove into the pits on lap 17 and came out behind Max Verstappen's slower Red Bull, allowing Vettel, lapping in clean air at the front, to build enough of a gap to stay ahead after his own pitstop.

Shanghai will also be an opportunity for Australian Daniel Ricciardo to bounce back after his traumatic outing in Melbourne.

"Sorry mate - the car's done", the Red Bull team told the disconsolate Australian over the radio.

Vettel stalked Hamilton in the early stages before grabbing the lead when the three-time World champion was forced into an early pit stop. Indeed when Verstappen finally came in at at the end of lap 25, Hamilton was suddenly six seconds behind. "It's obviously a lot of fun to race for victories and a lot of fun to race against the best".

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