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Hmm, who's sandbagging?  And by how much?
We'll find out when the engine party modes come out in Qualy today.  Don't forget, Red Bull folks saying they will have a legit party mode for Qual for the first time also.

I am 100% certain that the biggest sandbaggers and whingers in history, Mercedes, are at it again.
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I have said it many times over the years, the FIA need to appoint stewards that are the same people for EVERY race. I have always felt that some stewards are biased toward "some" drivers (Of cour

F1 needs a Friday program including testing or the race tracks are going to lose a lot of ticket sales.  As a TV viewer, I find the Friday practice sessions quite enjoyable.   On par with the rest of

WILLIAMS CONFIRM SIROTKIN TO RACE AND KUBICA RESERVE Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin will race for Williams this season after being chosen ahead of Polish rival Robert Kubica on Tuesday in wh

I watched FP1 and FP2.  I think this year is going to be incredibly competitive especially in the mid pack.  Was Ferrari sandbagging it?  I don't know.  After watching the fast laps of Mercedes and Ferrari.  The silver arrows were more hooked up.  They looked twitchy and fast in the corners.  Ferrari wasn't attacking the course like Mercedes.  On Vettel's fast lap, he missed apexing corners more than once and definitely didn't take the 11/12 high speed chicane with the aggressiveness of Hamilton or Bottas.  I think the car wasn't dialed into the track more than they were sandbagging it.  

The midfield looks strong.  Kimi in the Alpha, Haas, Racing Point, and Toro Rosso have all put up good times.

Williams sadly is a train wreck.

I'm stoked for FP3 and Qualifying.  I think it's going to be a very competitive year.

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2 hours ago, TheGipper said:

Hmm, who's sandbagging?  And by how much?

We'll find out when the engine party modes come out in Qualy today.  Don't forget, Red Bull folks saying they will have a legit party mode for Qual for the first time also.

Do you agree with the tactic of not going full out to try and be deceptive? Just curious on your thoughts.

Yes, Redbull I think are the underdogs no one is giving a fighting chance to.  They seem to fall 3rd to Ferrari and Mercedez and because of that are often overlooked.  

Sidenote: I live Bottas helmet design the best and found him explaining the steering wheel very interesting. 

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I hope Danny-Ricc can pull it together this year. I’m worried that he took a step down in his car.

I can’t possibly see Mercedes being anything but fastest. They just plain have a technical machine in their organization. They know the formula.

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On 3/16/2019 at 10:00 AM, Lotusguy said:

I am 100% certain that the biggest sandbaggers and whingers in history, Mercedes, are at it again.

Biggest Whingers IMHO would be RBR... I think people have forgotten tis on the account they haven't been inning as much of late ;) 

As for Mercedes Whingers, that's simply just Hamilton :D

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Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas cruised to victory in the  2019 Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix, taking the lead from second on the grid, he never put a foot wrong all day, controlled this pace when required in dominant style.

Bottas did not win a race last year and the prospect of losing his job with the best team on the grid has clearly inspired him, he delivered the best drive of his career.

Bottas did the business as the lights went out and he got an excellent launch, while teammate Hamilton, on pole, was a tad tardy off the line and that allowed the #77 car to edge ahead and take the lead where it stayed until the chequered waved a couple of hours later.

He said after his fourth F1 victory, “That was my best race ever. I don’t know what just happened. The start was really good, definitely my best race ever, I just felt so good and everything was under control and the car was very good, I just need to enjoy today.

“The fastest lap is a new rule as I had strong pace, I had to go for that. I’m just so happy and can’t wait for the next race,” added the winner who banked 26 points on the day.

The Finn also set the fastest lap of the race for good measure, crossing the finish line by 20.9 seconds ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton who never really sparked under the Albert Park sunshine.

The one point for fastest lap introduced this season, prompted an intriguing late-race duel among the pacesetters as they targeted that point. In the end, Bottas became the first driver to score a point for fastest lap in the modern era.


As mentioned, Hamilton was beaten off the line and after that, there was no ‘Hammertime’ as the reigning World Champion appeared to have no answer to the pace of the sister car.

A few hours after the race the team discovered damage to the floor of the #44 car “in the area just in front of the left-rear tyre. There is a chunk of the floor missing, but we are not 100 per cent sure why yet.”

Hamilton summed up his afternoon, “It’s a good weekend for the team so I have to be happy for everyone, and Valtteri drove an incredible race today and deserved it. It’s a great start to the year and it’s what we could have hoped for the team.”

“I had Max covered behind me and I had some ideas of where the pace went but I’ll go through it with my engineers afterwards. I’ll just train and work hard to stay and improve for next time.

Max Verstappen gave the Red Bull Honda era positively, showing good pace as he overhauled both Ferrari drivers to finish third and gave Hamilton some food for thought late in the 58-lap race.

The Japanese manufacturer have obviously made huge strides with their power unit over the winter, reliability and pace is there in the package offering hope that while Ferrari wane the Blues find their wings again.

It was also Honda’s first podium since 2008 and Verstappen’s first at Albert Park.

The Dutchman said afterwards, “I had to overtake Seb to get on to the podium which is not easy around here so I was happy to pull off that move.”

“To start the season on the podium, challenging the Mercedes in front of us, is a very positive start to us and a big thank you to the team after a tough Friday.”

After being trounced in qualifying a day earlier, Ferrari will leave Australia with fourth and fifth in what was an underwhelming debut for the preseason favourites.

Sebastian Vettel chased the Mercedes duo early on in the race, but gradually the #5 car seemed to go off the boil and fourth was the reward for last year’s winner at Albert Park.

During the race, the German asking his pitwall: “Why are we so slow?”

There will surely be an internal inquest after a below-par start of the season for the Reds, they will look at 57 seconds gap to the winner and wonder where their ‘ponies’ disappeared when it mattered and how they recover from this trouncing will be the talking point ahead of the next race in Bahrain in two weeks time.

New teammate Charles Leclerc made a couple of errors on his debut for Ferrari but did get under his teammate’s wing late in the race to finish fifth.

However, he did not challenge the sister car after he was told to hold station. Not the start of the year the Scuderia, their fans or new team boss Mattia Binotto were anticipating.


It was another bittersweet day for Haas, both cars looking good for points but in the end, Kevin Magnussen did the business to end Best of the Rest in sixth but it was another loose wheel saga that forced Romain Grosjean to retire when a double points finish beckoned for the team.

Great expectations at Renault were seriously tempered by reality on Sunday as their new recruit Daniel Ricciardo was over-optimistic at the start, destroyed his front wing 20 metres from grid spot when he got on the grass and compromised his day. His race then ended on lap 31 when the team parked the car.

In the sister car Nico Hulkenberg hung in there to finish seventh on a day when Renault showed their hand, and what we saw was unimpressive as the French manufacturer now appears to have dropped to the bottom of the power-unit stakes.

Adding to the woes was that the first engine to go up in smoke this season was the Renault bolted to the back of Carlos Sainz’s McLaren, who had to park the orange car at the entrance of the pits with flames spitting out from under the engine cover.

In the sister car, rookie Lando Norris had a respectable start to his career in the top flight but could not make the most of his impressive eighth place start as he dropped down the field off the line, but he kept at it to finish 12th.

Kimi Raikkonen dug into his huge experience, survived the midfield mayhem to finish a solid eighth for Alfa Romeo, fending off Racing Point’s Lance Stroll in ninth and Daniil Kvyat claiming the final point on his return for Toro Rosso, the trio slugging it out in the dying laps of the race.


FIA Blow-By-Blow Report

At the start, Bottas made a good start from the front row and managed to get past pole position man Hamilton in Turn 1 to take the lead. Max, meanwhile, held fourth place behind Vettel as the field streamed through the opening sector.

There was trouble though for Ricciardo. The Aussie took an inside line from P12 on the grid but was squeezed by Perez. Ricciardo went on the grass, hit a hummock and dislodged his front wing. He pitted for a new nose and wing. The Australian later retired on lap 29.

After taking the lead, Bottas then began to consolidate it, opening up a 3.5s gap to Hamilton by lap 12 of the 58 and a 7.2s lead to Vettel.

The Ferrari driver was the first of the leaders to pit at the end of lap 14, taking on medium tyres. He was followed on the next lap by Hamilton who made the same compound choice.

Bottas, Verstappen and Leclerc continued to stay out, however, and by lap 21 Bottas held a 14s advantage over Verstappen who was 10.3s clear of Leclerc.

Bottas eventually made his stop for medium tyres on lap 23. That handed the lead to Verstappen, with the Mercedes driver rejoining seven seconds behind the Red Bull and three seconds ahead of Leclerc.

Verstappen was next in, at the end of lap 25, and a good stop of 2.3s saw him take on mediums and rejoin in P5 behind Vettel. Leclerc, though, still needed to make his stop for new tyres.


The Monegasque drivers finally stopped for hard tyres on lap 28, leaving Bottas to lead Hamilton by 15s with Vettel third ahead of Verstappen.

That order wouldn’t last long, however. After the stops, Verstappen found himself just half a second behind Vettel and on lap 30 he attacked.

The Red Bull driver couldn’t make the move stick into Turn 1 but he then pulled alongside the German on the next straight and, thanks to fresher tyres, rounded the Ferrari through Turn 3 to slot into a podium position.

Verstappen then tries to close on Hamilton but the Briton was able to respond and with Bottas in control at the front, the leading order settled.

There was a flurry of action in the closing laps as Verstappen tried to steal fastest lap and the point on offer for the marker from Bottas. The Finn wasn’t to be denied however, and on lap 57 he punched in a 1:25.580 to take the bonus point.

At the end of the next tour he took the fourth win of his career ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen. Fourth place went to Vettel, with Leclerc settling for fifth. Magnussen took sixth place for Haas ahead of Alfa Räikkönen and Stroll held onto ninth ahead of the final points score, Kvyat.

Round 1 Result: Australian Grand Prix – Melbourne, Albert Park

Result Australian Grand Prix 2019

Pirelli tyre stats

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Biggest Whingers IMHO would be RBR... I think people have forgotten tis on the account they haven't been inning as much of late  
As for Mercedes Whingers, that's simply just Hamilton 

Alright - but you’ll give them the sandbaggers title, based on today’s results, no? ;)
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A new Valtteri Bottas appears to have stepped up to the plate for the 2019 Formula 1 season as the Finn monstered his way to his best victory ever by winning the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Beating his World Champion teammate Lewis Hamilton by a whopping 20 seconds on the day in which he was faultless, dominating in the race manner in which few thought he had in him. This was Valtteri Reloaded.

The reserved and quiet spoken Finn, was a changed man after claiming his fourth Grand Prix win he said over the radio: “To whom it may concern, f*ck you.”

Indeed, a big FU it is to all his detractors while wiping the smile off the face of the pretender to his seat Esteban Ocon watching events unfold alongside team chief Toto Wolff in the pit garage.

Finally, after two years with the best kit at his disposal, Bottas has delivered on a level that will make Hamilton sit up and take note. This is not the guy he knew last year, the one that never won a race in 2018 while the Briton racked up 11 triumphs.


With Mercedes so dominant, F1 needs Bottas to up his game and take the battle to Hamilton to spice up a contest that might already missing the paprika of Ferrari to spice things up.

In parc ferme, after his mega-victory, the driver of car #77 was at a loss for words, but when he got going it became clear how much the 26 points meant to him – his insistence on claiming fastest-lap and a point for the effort signalled a tenacity that perhaps was lacking in Bottas 1.0.

Explaining his cheeky chirp top reporters afterwards, he explained, “It just came, I just wanted to send my best regards. That’s it, honestly, I didn’t think about it or plan it, it just came out.”

“Obviously there are many people who support you, and honestly I appreciate that a lot. There are always ups and downs, and you can really see the true support quite easily. And then through the difficult times, there’s the other part, which is a lot more negative. That’s their weakness, so it’s fine.”

“For whom it may concern, maybe they should look in the mirror sometimes and think actually why they do that. For me, it’s OK now,” added the Mercedes like a man who found redemption this afternoon in Melbourne.

As for his faultless and most impressive race to date, Bottas acknowledged, “My best race ever so far so I’m really pleased. The race start was the key moment, I had the pace and it would’ve been a shame to be stuck behind another car.”


“The car was amazing, truly enjoyable. Twenty-six is better than 25 and in the end I got it [the point for fastest lap]. It is a bit risky with worn tyres to go for it, but it was worth it. Every point will count and I couldn’t be happier for myself or the team.”

“I’ve never had a race like this with such a lead. I just had a really good feeling with the car today. I could’ve gone quicker in qualifying and in the end I couldn’t but Lewis could, but overall it’s today that matters.”

“Your brain tricks you and says it’s easy, but it isn’t. there are so many things that can go wrong especially when you have that gap with you teammate.”

“For sure it’s not easy, what I have personally if you have big goals and you definitely fail to achieve those and you’re way behind, it’s difficult; for your performance level to come back from that it took time. Over Christmas and new year I wasn’t feeling good at all, but in January I began to feel better and started to get back on it.”

When asked jokingly what he had for breakfast, he pointed out, “It is not just the breakfast, it is all the past years, the work in the winter, the work I’ve done inside [the head].”

“I truly enjoyed it and it would not be possible without the amazing car. In the beginning it was about managing the race and I saw after five, six seven laps I was starting to build the lead. I knew I could do it, I have done it before. When you are really on it it feels kind of easy.”


With Ocon waiting in the wings for slip up, the result is the best boost Bottas could have wished for on all fronts and his boss was impressed.

“We are very pleased,” declared Wolff. “Especially with the second half of last season he was written off, but he bounces back in the most dominant way and he’s been in control for most of the weekend.”

“I just remember his early years in F3 when he was the benchmark and he would destroy everyone and that was lost last year. When he came back after winter he said ‘I’m back’

“I think he really worked hard and enjoyed the rallying he did this winter. You can see the extra point which nobody gave much notice to, become important at the end, and Valtteri was bang off the line,” added the Merc team chief.

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2 minutes ago, Lotusguy said:


Alright - but you’ll give them the sandbaggers title, based on today’s results, no? ;)


LOL!! Mercedes ALWAYS Sandbag bud ;) 

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Early warning signs that all was not well at Ferrari came to a head on Sunday as the would-be Formula 1 contenders flopped in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

While Valtteri Bottas claimed a dominant win for Mercedes and his teammate Lewis Hamilton held off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for second place, Ferrari’s drivers were left scrambling for minor points in a sobering start for the Scuderia.

Ferrari had been the quickest car at winter testing, just edging champions Mercedes, but Barcelona must have felt a distant memory as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc crossed fourth and fifth, nearly a minute behind Bottas.

Vettel sounded alarm bells after Friday practice when he said he felt strangely uncomfortable with the car. But the German would have hoped for better after qualifying third on Saturday.

Instead, it took an order from the team garage just to preserve his fourth placing, with new boy Leclerc warned off from overtaking the four-times F1 champion in the final laps.

Called in to pit early to change soft tyres for mediums, Vettel lost pace late on and said the strategy was wrong. By the looks of it, of course, we did (pit too early) because I was struggling with the tyres, so we need to have a good look.”

But the strategy could not explain why the car was sluggish at corners and had handled so poorly, “But I think even ignoring the lap that we pitted, it looked like other people had way less problems so I´m not quite sure what was the issue.”

Team principal Mattia Binotto said the performance was not what Ferrari were expecting, “I think winter testing we were certainly different.”

“Since Friday, FP1, we never found the right balance on the car and we struggled with the car. We tried different set-up approaches during the weekend but I have to say that we never concluded with the right balance.”

Runners-up to Mercedes in the last two championships, hopes were high that Ferrari, under new management, had produced a car that could finally knock the Silver Arrows off their perch.

Instead, they will head to the next stop in Bahrain trying to stop old doubts resurfacing.

“One thing we are certain is that today, this weekend, is not the real potential of the car. We are pretty sure that the potential is certainly bigger. And we have not been able to exploit it through the weekend,” explained Binotto.

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Haas driver Romain Grosjean suffered a painful sense of deja vu on Sunday after a repeat of his team’s 2018 pitstop woes at Formula 1’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Last year’s nightmare featured prominently in a recent Netflix documentary series and Grosjean’s latest retirement, after another problem with his car’s left front wheel, came as an unwelcome re-run.

“Deja vu,” said the Frenchman. “Second year in a row, same problem. Third year in a row retiring here while I’m into the points.

“I think Australia doesn´t like me. I love the country, I love coming here, I love the track. I´ve always had a good feeling here. The car was fast, the pitstop was very long. And then something broke on the car.

“I haven´t really looked at the car. I just put the steering wheel back on and I walked away shouting some bad words,” he said of his retirement.

Last year both Grosjean and teammate Kevin Magnussen qualified in the top 10 and were fourth and fifth and heading for the team’s best result until it all went wrong at the pitstops.

Both left the pits with left side wheels not fully attached, retiring shortly afterwards.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner, now hailed as a Netflix star even if he has yet to find time to watch the episodes, assured fans before Melbourne that the team had worked overtime on pitstop practice.

“It´s deja vu,” he agreed on Sunday. “We got it (the wheel) on but lost the positions anyway and then I think it was five or six laps later and this happened.

“It looks like just something broke when we put it on with sheer force the second time around.”

Steiner could at least take consolation in Magnussen finishing sixth to send Haas fourth in the standings and ahead of Renault.

“The good thing I take away is that last year we went away last because we didn´t score any points,” said Steiner. “This year we go away fourth, we are two points ahead of fifth.

“The car seems to perform very well. For sure we have to do the same in the next 20 races but it seems to be solid, the drivers like it.”

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Verstappen third australia f1

While Ferrari imploded at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix it was encouraging to see the Red Bull Honda combo get off to a great start, inciting hope that the new partnership will take the battle to Mercedes as the season develops.

Max Verstappen grafted hard for his first podium, overtaking Sebastian Vettel for third late in the race and then giving chase to second-placed Lewis Hamilton, but the ammo ran out as did the laps but while Mercedes driver claimed Max was no threat.

Nevertheless, it was a great showing and indicates that Honda have made huge strides with their power unit package. The Japanese manufacturer were last on the podium back in 2008.

In the wake of all this, one has to wonder what the top brass at McLaren (no points and a blow up with Renault power) are thinking right now…

Pierre Gasly’s debut weekend with the Blues was disappointing and totally overshadowed by his younger teammate. The Frenchman was not helped by his team’s strategy gaffe during Q1 that confined him to the wrong end of the grid.

In the race, he was overly cautious, perhaps too much so, as he could not find his way around Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso also powered by Honda.

Red Bull report from the 2019 Australian Grand Prix:

Max got the Team’s partnership with Honda off to a champagne-drenched start in Melbourne, with the Dutch driver claiming third place at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Max held his starting position of fourth at the race start and over a long first stint steadily edged his way towards Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The German made his sole stop for tyres on lap 15 but Max held on until lap 25 and when he emerged he used the greater pace at his disposal to make a textbook move on Vettel around the outside into Turn 3 on lap 30 to claim third place.

After 58 laps the position was made official and Max handed the team its first podium of 2019 and gave Honda its first F1 trophy since the 2008 British Grand Prix when Rubens Barrichello finished third.

Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly’s team debut ended in P11. Starting from P17, the Frenchman put in a hugely long first stint on medium tyres. He emerged in P11 behind Dany Kvyat, but despite pressing hard in the closing laps, Pierre could find no way past the wily Russian.

Max Verstappen, 3rd: “I am very happy for the Team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today. Since we started working together it has been amazing and I am really enjoying the partnership, so this is a well-deserved third place for all of us.”

“To be able to challenge Lewis at the end of the race and overtake Seb on-track, which around here is very difficult, is very positive. We had a little advantage with the tyres but it was satisfying to pressure Lewis even though I couldn’t get quite close enough to overtake him.”

“The car was working really well and we also look strong on the straights which is hopefully a good sign for the rest of the season. I heard this is the first podium for Honda since 2008 so I am very happy that I managed to achieve this for them today.”

Pierre Gasly, 11th: “It was a pretty difficult race. With the new bigger rear wings, I couldn’t see the lights on the grid so I had to react with the cars around me and I lost a couple of places. Then I got stuck in traffic and even with the DRS, it’s super difficult to overtake here plus I had some debris in my front wing which didn’t help.’

“I spent the whole race five tenths from the car in front but my tyres were just sliding and I couldn’t get past. I pushed as much as I could and I tried everything but it wasn’t enough to make it into the points. In general, the pace over the weekend was really good.”

“In qualifying, we got knocked out of Q1 but I was happy with my first lap and it was just unfortunate that we didn’t make it through. Bahrain is a race I really like and we’ve seen the car is competitive so we’ll keep our heads down, stay focused and give a big push in two weeks’ time.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal: “A fantastic start to the season with a podium finish at our first Grand Prix with our new power unit partner Honda, who haven’t finished in the top three since 2008.”

“Max put in a remarkable performance today, and after a decent start and one of the day’s fastest pit stops, he was able to take advantage of the C3 tyre and make a great pass on Sebastian. He went on to put Lewis under pressure for the rest of the race, but didn’t get quite close enough.”

“Pierre battled his way from P17 to finish just outside of the points, but at this track it’s notoriously hard to overtake. He drove the wheels off the car and it’s a shame that it wasn’t rewarded with a point. He raced hard and I’m sure his time will come. After a promising season opener, we now look ahead to Bahrain.”

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The Mercedes F1 steamroller continued where it left off last year, as the German team look to make it 12 titles in six-year come the end 0f this season, with Valtteri Bottas heading home Lewis Hamilton for a dominant one-two at the Australian Grand Prix, round one of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship.

The manner of the victory was so comprehensive that the entire paddock and F1 world are reeling as the reality of Mercedes’ gap to the rest was made evident by the trouncing they gave their arch-rivals Ferrari.

In the end, 57 seconds was the gap from race winner to Sebastian Vettel down in fourth for the Scuderia. More telling is the fact that the Bottas was capable of wringing the fastest lap at the end of the race, suggesting much more in that car.

His winning margin over Hamilton was 20 seconds.

Mercedes team report from Melbourne:

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport start the 2019 Formula One season with a 1-2 victory

Valtteri Bottas, 1st: “This feels so good – I don’t think I’ve ever had a race like this! We could not have asked for a better start to the season – getting maximum points for the team is a perfect result and we couldn’t be happier. It’s also an important result for me personally, I’m really pleased with how the race went.”

“These things don’t just happen – both the team and I have worked hard for this and it seems like the hard work paid off today. The key was the start; I think Lewis may have had a bit of wheel spin, so I was able to take the lead. My race pace was really strong, I could pull away and build a gap.”

“In the end, I managed to get the fastest lap as well, which of course means an extra point this season, so I went for it. It can be a little risky with worn tyres, but I had it all under control. I’m very, very pleased with today, but it’s only the first race and we have another 20 races to go.”

Lewis Hamilton, 2nd: “It was an incredible weekend for the team, we’re leaving Melbourne with maximum points. Valtteri did an exceptional job today – congratulations to him. I had a pretty straightforward race today; I lost position at the start and my race was pretty much done and dusted after the first corner.”

“Afterwards it was really about bringing the car home and bagging the points. I had to pit early to cover the pit stop from Ferrari, so I had a long second stint and drove super carefully to make sure I had tyres left at the end of the race.”

“I’ll bag the eighteen points I got today, keep working and come back recharged for the next one. It was a really great weekend for the team and I’m really happy for everyone. We showed a great performance today and we need to continue to build on this – we have a long season ahead of us.”

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: “That was a great day and an awesome drive for Valtteri – a perfect rebound after how last season finished. Over the winter, he recharged the batteries, reset, found his joy of driving again with the rally in Finland – then today it all came together for him.”

“I can see again the young boy I first met over ten years ago and who dominated the junior series in 2008; it was a strong comeback and a really well-earned win today. For Lewis, it was a harder afternoon – the start was not as good as Valtteri, then we had to pit him earlier than ideal to cover the risk of being undercut by Vettel.”

“That gave him a long stint on the tyres and none of us knew if they would make it to the end, so it was hard to judge the right pace and he wasn’t happy with the car balance; my feeling is that it can be tricky to find the sweet spot with these new cars and tyres, and probably we didn’t manage that today with Lewis.”

“Overall, though, a fantastic day for the team and a perfect result in the opening race – including the point for fastest lap. I know we have a very big supporter who is in Vienna now and not here with us in Melbourne – to you, Niki, we send all our best wishes and we hope you’re happy with this one.”

“But this feeling will only last as long as we stay at the circuit; when the plane takes off for home, our eyes will turn to Bahrain. We know that Ferrari have the speed to fight back, so we won’t be jumping to any conclusions after just one race. We have a long season ahead full of twists and turns and challenges; we’re looking forward to the fight.”

James Allison, Technical Director: “Days in motor racing do not come much sweeter than this. A 1-2 finish is a precious thing and to top it off with the cherry of the fastest lap point for the first time, makes it feel even nicer.”

“I guess the main reason it feels so good is that it was unexpected. We came to Australia expecting a very tough fight against a car that had set the benchmark throughout winter testing. But we found ourselves in the happy position of being very competitive from the first time we turned a wheel – and almost spent our weekend waiting to wake up from that state of slight disbelief.”

“However, we should have trusted what our numbers told us, because Sunday turned out almost exactly how an impressive Friday had promised, and it’s a fantastic feeling for all of us to achieve this result at the first race.”

“That doesn’t mean we will do the same at the next race but it is a good start: it was fantastic to see Valtteri drive so flawlessly to answer some of his critics and remind everybody that he is a class act.”

“Lewis, on the other hand, was punished for a poor start and had to contend with damage to the floor of his car, but nonetheless was able to drive a strong race to seal off the 1-2 finish for the team, which will see us heading to the next race with very happy spirits indeed.”

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While in their post-race press release they trumpet solid points finish, the facts are that Renault were one of the biggest disappointments of the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

In a season in which they were supposed to edge closer to the top three teams and podiums in their script, they appear to have gone backwards.

Daniel Ricciardo had a hugely disappointing debut for the team on home soil, smacking a gutter (what are track walks for?) as he got on the grass as the field roared towards Turn 1 and bust his front wing. From then on he was out of the running.

In the sister car, Hulkenberg soldiered on to finish seventh for the umpteenth time in his career, bringing some joy to the team which under-delivered on the day.

McLaren had the embarrassment of the first engine failure when the Renault PU on Carlos Sainz’s car went up in smoke, there was no noticeable ‘party mode’ and the race pace was hardly impressive compared to, for instance, Red Bull…

No matter how they spin it, this was not the start to the new campaign they were targeting and force them back to the drawing board in the team department as well as the engine warehouse.

Renault report from race day in Melbourne:

Renault F1 Team began the 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship with a solid points finish courtesy of Nico Hülkenberg’s seventh place in the Rolex Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park, Melbourne.

Nico made an excellent start from eleventh on the grid, rising to eighth on the opening lap before driving a conservative race to the flag in seventh place, a repeat of the result recorded in Australia last season.

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, making his debut for the team at his home Grand Prix, retired on lap 28 as a precaution following damage to the car suffered during an unfortunate lap one incident.

After making a bright start off the line, Daniel lost his front wing after running wide on the main straight, forcing him into an early pit-stop for a front wing change. He was consequently forced to retire later in the race as a preventative measure.

  • Nico started from P11 on Pirelli’s Soft (red) tyres, battling his way to eighth on the opening lap. He inherited seventh after pitting for Hard (white) tyres on lap 13 and defended that position to the end.
  • Daniel started from P12 on Soft tyres, pitting at the end of lap one for a nose and front wing change, as well as Hard tyres. He retired on lap 28 as a precaution for his lap one incident.

Nico Hülkenberg, P7: “It’s a good start to the season with some solid points on the board. It was a tricky race – especially the final 10 laps – I was under pressure and really had to fight to hang onto seventh place. I’m pleased to pull that off.”

“The start and the first lap made our race; it’s so crucial to have track position around here and from there it was about managing the car and the tyres.”

“We can be pleased with today, it’s a positive result, but it also shows we have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to dig deep and continue finding performance especially to improve the car balance.”

Daniel Ricciardo, P12: “I’m gutted, that’s for sure. I made a good start, managed to get a good run on Perez and then moved to the side. I put a wheel on the grass, which didn’t concern me, and then a massive bump caught me by surprise.”

“It’s unlucky more than anything and, unfortunately, that was our race run there and then. It all happened very quickly and it was a shame we finished like that. Nico showed in the race that the car belongs in the top eight and we’ll be aiming for a smoother weekend in Bahrain and a strong result.”

Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal
“We’re leaving Australia with mixed feelings and a contrast of positive and negatives. The main negative was Qualifying, where we had a number of issues that impacted our potential and starting position.”

“That made Daniel’s first race complex and we tried to recover positions at the start but we ultimately had to retire his car due to the damage. Nico managed to turn around the situation and had a very strong race. He was very smart and drove a good race to finish seventh.”

“We know the car has much more pace than we have shown, especially in Qualifying, and it will be the priority of the next race to extract more from the initial platform with a smoother execution across the weekend while we work on our planned upgrades.”

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Lawrence Stroll dishing out hundreds of millions to save Force India, now morphed into Racing Point, was vindicated as his son – the raison d’être for the project – scored points in his debut for the team with a solid run to ninth place at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

While young Lance did his first race shift for Daddy’s team, their veteran Sergio Perez had an off-kilter afternoon exacerbated by a poor start he just never found the sweetspot on a weekend in which he was outperformed by his teammate in just about all sessions barring qualifying, where stroll was tripped up in traffic.

As they step on their private jet to Bahrain, one could imagine the Strolls saying: “What a difference a year makes!”

Racing Point report from race day in Melbourne:

Sergio Perez, 13th: “I’m disappointed to come away from Melbourne missing out on points. It was quite a difficult race for me from lap one because I made a poor start and lost a couple of places before turn one. Overtaking was extremely difficult, so we tried the undercut with the strategy but it didn’t really work out for us. After my pit stop I was stuck in traffic for the rest of the race. I was able to get ahead of Albon, when he made a mistake, but apart from that it was difficult to really show our pace.”

Lance Stroll, 9th: “I am really pleased with my race today – it has been a great day at the office. It’s really nice to pick up some points on the first weekend of the season, but it wasn’t easy. It was a really challenging afternoon, chasing Hulkenberg and Raikkonen ahead of me while also keeping Kvyat and Gasly behind me for most of the race.”

“I was under a lot of pressure and it was very tight, but I am glad we managed to pick up two points. We were always planning to go long with our strategy: we were starting out of position so we knew the key was to make a good start and gain some places in the opening stages, which we did.”

“After that, we had good pace and managed to hold off the cars behind us on softer tyres than ours. We saw today that it’s going to be really close in the middle of the grid, but we are definitely in the fight.”

Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal: “I’m delighted to see Lance score points in his first race with us. It was a very mature drive and he thoroughly deserves this result. Scoring points is a great way to start the season after the huge effort back at base and trackside over the last few months.”

“It’s a shame Sergio’s strategy didn’t’ work out because we had a chance to get both cars in the points today. We saw, once again, that overtaking is extremely difficult around Albert Park and getting stuck in traffic after his early stop proved very costly.”

“We take away lots of positives from this weekend and have learned a huge amount from all the testing we did in the lead up to the race. Now we switch focus to Bahrain and a very different track. We will keep pushing, keep developing and we hope to take a step forward and get both cars in the top ten in a couple of weeks’ time.”

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The fall of Williams to even lower than they were last year for all the reasons we know so well was lamented, even mourned, by the entire Formula 1 world as the once mighty superpower of our sport crawled around the back doing their drivers no favours.

There is too much to be said about the sad and rapid demise of this great team, suffice to say that expect the worst for the foreseeable future because there is no light at the end of the tunnel of shambles.

Williams report from race day in Melbourne:

Race Notes:

  • George Russell finished 16th and Robert Kubica 17th in the Australian Grand Prix
  • George started 19th on the medium Pirelli tyre, with Robert 20th on the grid on the hard
  • George had a clean two-stop race, boxing on Lap 26 for the soft Pirelli tyre and for the hard on Lap 42
  • After contact at turn one Robert picked up damage which compromised his afternoon having to pit for a new front wing. He continued to drive a solid race making two further pitstops for the soft Pirelli tyre on Laps 28 and 44

Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: “It was a tough day as you would expect but it was an achievement to bring two cars home. Robert had an unfortunate first lap, but once we got him back out with a new front wing he was able to settle down and he drove a good race on his comeback.”

“It was George’s Formula 1 debut and he has had a solid weekend all round and now has his first race under his belt. This should give both drivers some confidence in moving forward. The pitstops the team carried out today were very good as always, and operationally the team did a good job with what we have at the moment.”

George Russell: “I feel happy that I brought the car home with no dramas. I physically feel fine and it was a good first race from my side but obviously it is disappointing that we are so far behind the pace. We did an additional pitstop to try all three compounds of the tyres, so that is unfortunately where we are at the moment.”

“We have got a lot of work to do tomorrow to understand and hopefully improve from there. I am not interested in fighting Robert for last, we need to work together to make this right. Overall, I can be proud and pleased with myself because we went into this weekend knowing what to expect and I achieved pretty much all of my goals.”

Robert Kubica: “It definitely wasn’t an easy race and we knew that before the start. We opted to start on the hard tyre to get experience on them but, I got a good start for those tyres. In turn one, I was on the inside and on the exit of the corner one of the Red Bull’s moved right to avoid another contact and we touched, damaging my front wing so I had to come in to box.”

“Additionally, on lap three, I lost one of my mirrors, so the blue flags weren’t easy. I was not in the best shape with some damage but, I know it sounds strange and I thought I would never say something like this, although it was very difficult I think there were some positives. I want to thank again everyone in the team.”

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raikkonen giovinazzi f1 photo 2019 melbourne australia

If Haas are the measure for Alfa Romeo then the Hinwill outfit fell short at the Formula 1 season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, as the American team outshone the Swiss outfit by quite some margin.

Kimi Raikkonen made his return to the grid with the team that gave his break in F1 almost two decades ago. He soldiered on to finish eighth, in a car which by his own admission was better than the results suggest.

Rookie Antonio Giovinazzi made an inauspicious start to his first full season in F1, but thankfully he did not put it in the wall and brought it home in 15th.

In comparison, also with Ferrari power units, Haas were well up the road and best of the rest, which is ultimately the benchmark Alfa Romeo need to target.

Nevertheless an encouraging start to the team which not long ago was last in the pecking order.

Alfa Romeo report from race day in Melbourne:

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: “For the first race of the season, it was an ok race. We had some small issues which we could not have anticipated and both drivers put up a good fight.”

“We are returning home with 4 points, which is a positive. To start the season with one car in the top ten is a good achievement and we will push hard to score some more points at the next Grand Prix in Bahrain.”

Kimi Räikkönen, 8th: “Our car was pretty strong in the race, but then we got stuck behind cars and there is not much you can do. It seems that it is easier to get closer to the car in front of you but it’s still very hard to overtake.”

“In addition, we had an issue with the temperature of the rear brakes as one of the tear-offs from the visor went in and that’s why we had to pit earlier than planned. But as I said, the car has a lot of speed and it felt good, so I’m looking forward to the race in Bahrain.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 15th: “It was a tough race. I picked up some damage to my car on lap 1 and after that it was challenging to stay up to speed. There were some battles and I did my best to defend my position. It was only the first race of the season, so I look forward to fighting for a stronger result in Bahrain.”

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Before race day at Albert Park, McLaren flattered only to deceive as they depart the season-opening Australian Grand Prix as they departed Melbourne without a point, a year earlier they finished fifth with Fernando Alonso.

Lando Norris gave the team reason to smile when he qualified eighth on his first Saturday as a Grand Prix driver, but that’s as good as it got for the Woking outfit.

Carlos Sainz was the first retirement of the season when the Renault power unit lit up and went up in smoke forcing the Spaniard to park the car to the side of the pit entrance.

In the sister car, Norris botched his first Grand Prix start and was quickly gobbled up by rivals and spent the afternoon toiling on the wrong end of the mid-pack. It was a solid, if not stellar start to his career in the top flight, with his qualifying effort notable.

McLaren report from Melbourne race day:

Team Report: McLaren endured mixed emotions in the Australian Grand Prix today with Lando finishing a creditable 12th on his Grand Prix début, while Carlos retired from the opening round of this year’s FIA Formula 1 Championship.

The British teenager coped admirably with tyre and fuel management throughout the 58-lap race, run in hot sunshine weather conditions around the temporary 5.303 km (3.12-mile) Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, finishing as the top F1 rookie.

Lando was shuffled down to 10th while Carlos gained three places on the opening lap. The Spaniard moved up to 14th but retired on the 10th lap with a suspected MGU-K failure. Lando ran seventh before a scheduled pit-stop and lay 12th at mid-distance, his pace having been compromised behind a car running on a different tyre strategy. The second round of the 21-race championship is staged in Bahrain (31 March).

Carlos Sainz, DNF: “It’s been a weekend to forget. I think we lost the MGU-K, which was a shame as the race was going well. I’d put yesterday behind me and I was feeling positive going into today. I’d done everything I wanted to do: I made a good start, overtaking four cars, getting in the fight for the points and starting to attack the cars in front.”

“The car felt good, we had strong pace and I was fighting with other cars that ended up in the points today, which shows us that points could have been possible.”

“This one hurts, but this is Formula 1. My season has started with a really unlucky weekend but hopefully we can start having more positive results from Bahrain onwards. I’m happy to put this one behind me and keep pushing.”

Lando Norris, 12th: “The team gave me a good car, with enough pace for me to be in the top 10 but I made a couple of mistakes which cost me any chance of scoring points, so I’m a little disappointed. But it’s cool to finish my first [F1] race and get it out of the way.

“I didn’t make the perfect start, struggled to get ahead of a slower car and then had a big lock-up so I need to work on these mistakes. I’m annoyed with myself as there was more potential. Now I focus and look forward to Bahrain.”

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “Overall, I must admit that, although there were several positives to draw from this weekend in general, we come away from the Australian Grand Prix a little disappointed. Carlos had a good start, but unfortunately had to retire with an early mechanical failure.”

“On Lando’s side, the race was going well early on, until he was held up in traffic for some laps, which sealed his result outside the points. On the positive side, I’m pleased that Lando was able to put up a fighting performance in his début grand prix and see the chequered flag.

“As predicted, it’s clear that several teams are in a tight battle, including ourselves, so any small improvements in our pace and execution can have a significant impact on our ranking. So, head down, and onwards to Bahrain.”

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Vettel slow

After ‘winning’ the Formula 1 preseason testing, Ferrari were touted as having the fastest cars when Sebastian Vettel arrived in Melbourne with the intention of winning his third consecutive Australian Grand Prix.

Instead, they leave without a podium place and, worryingly for the Scuderia faithful, after conceding a 57-second margin to Valtteri Bottas, who led Lewis Hamilton in a 1-2 finish for Mercedes on Sunday.

More concerning for Ferrari was the 35-second gap to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who overtook Vettel on the outside and finished in third place.

Four-time F1 world champion Vettel, who beat Lewis Hamilton here in the previous two years but finished second to the Mercedes driver in the season championships in 2017 and 2018, finished a distant fourth.

Charles Leclerc was fifth in his first GP for Ferrari, his best result ever in F1, but the 21-year-old from Monaco had a few driver issues.

“I guess we were just slow,” Vettel said. “I was struggling with the tires, but even ignoring the lap l pitted, it looks like everyone else was having way less problems than l was.”

At one point in the race, the German asked over the radio: “Why are we so slow?”

Vettel was fastest enough in qualifying to start in third spot on the grid but didn’t have the pace to get close to the Mercedes or Verstappen’s Red Bull.

His fastest lap of 1:27.954 seconds – on the 16th lap – was well behind Bottas’ bonus-point winning 1:25.580 and was slower even than Lance Stroll, Danill Kvyat and Pierre Gasly, who placed ninth, 10th and 11th.

Team principal Mattia Binotto had forecast issues when he said on the eve of the race that winter testing was nothing like the racing environment, and Mercedes remained the team to beat. It turned out he was right, at least for Melbourne.

Ferrari will be looking to regroup in the next ten days ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend where they head to already on the backfoot and in the wake of a very disappointing start to their season.

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Ferrari explains call to back Leclerc off Vettel

Ferrari explains call to back Leclerc off Vettel

Ferrari told Charles Leclerc to stay behind Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1's season-opening Australian Grand Prix because there was "no reason" to take a risk fighting over fourth place.

Leclerc, making his Ferrari debut, caught his four-time world champion teammate in the closing stages of the grand prix.

He asked if he should stay behind Vettel, who was on older tyres, and was told "yes, and back off to have some margin".

Explaining why Vettel was struggling so much compared to Leclerc, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said: "When Seb pitted, put the medium tyres on, he didn't have the grip he was expecting.

"And he was attacked by [Max] Verstappen, having been in the position to hold his position on track. So, we decided to bring the car home. He was managing the tyres to the end.

"I think 10 laps to the end, we decided not to take any risks and hold positions, bring the cars home and score points."

In pre-season, new team boss Binotto had made it clear Vettel would be prioritised early on in the season if the situation required it, as he is Ferrari's initial title focus.

But Binotto said instructing their drivers to hold position in Melbourne was neither "difficult" nor a "decision" that Ferrari had to make, because it did not make sense to let them risk fighting when it was not for the win.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90 runs wide

"As I said, Sebastian was managing his pace because of poor grip, and bringing the car home," he added.

"Charles did a great second stint, [but] 10 laps to go, there was no reason to take a risk today. They were not fighting for the first position."

Leclerc ended up on the grass on the exit of the first corner after being accidentally squeezed by Vettel, who he had tried to pass on the outside.

Risk-management was also the reason Ferrari opted not to pit Leclerc, who had a massive advantage over sixth-placed Kevin Magnussen, and put him on fresh tyres to push for fastest lap.

"I think at that stage, whenever you pit it may be a risk," said Binotto. "It was more important for us to bring the car home, score the points.

"Sometimes races where you are not the best, it's still important to score points.

"That was our choice. We will review the race and eventually the decision, but it was for that reason."

Leclerc said he pushed for the bonus point for fastest lap anyway, on his existing tyres, but accepted that race winner and eventual fastest lap earner Valtteri Bottas was too fast.

"We tried on the last lap but obviously [it] was not enough, by quite a bit," said Leclerc.

"I don't think we wanted to take the risk to do a pitstop. There are a lot of risks with a pitstop obviously and we just wanted to finish this race clean.

"I tried myself but it was definitely not enough and by quite a big margin."

MIKA: This is why I dislike Ferrari. Had that have been Vettel in P5, they would have asked Leclerc to allow him to pass. Charles was clearly faster and should have passed, gain or no gain for the team, but still a gain for the actual driver.

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Bottas ignored Wolff instruction not to go for fastest lap

Bottas ignored Wolff instruction not to go for fastest lap

Mercedes Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas and his engineer ignored his pre-race instructions not to take a risk by going for fastest lap in the Australian Grand Prix.

Wolff says he made it clear on Sunday morning that he didn't want his drivers to potentially lose a podium position by going for the fastest lap, which under new rules gets a bonus point if the driver finishes inside the top 10.

However, race winner Bottas was heard on team radio discussing his quest for the extra point, while his engineer warned him that there were "games going on" with other drivers clearly trying to take it from Bottas.

Wolff admits that in the end he was happy that his driver earned the extra point.

"Today in the morning meeting when we talked about strategy, I forbade them to go for the fastest lap if we were running first, second or third," said Wolff.

"They ignored me. All of them!

"I think it was a plot between the engineers and drivers, because the engineers were keen. I need to reconstruct the radio calls and how that happened.

"At the end I'm very happy. Collecting that extra point I think is good. It's entertaining. It's a great new part of the spectacle."

However, he admitted that he was still nervous about it.

"I believe that it's taking risks. Especially when you're aiming for the big points, should you go for the fastest lap?

"But then maybe my reference point in keeping control of a car is my own driving and not the level of the Formula 1 drivers? I didn't like it so much."

Bottas insisted that points for a result remain the priority, but felt that his big lead gave him the opportunity to go go for fastest lap.

However, he acknowledged that it wasn't worth pitting for new tyres.

"Obviously getting the big amount of points from the result itself is a much, much bigger priority," he said.

"And the second priority, the fastest lap. Once the gap to behind was decent there was enough margin to speak about that, and make a plan for that.

"I asked about a possible pit stop, but it's something that we actually spoke about before the race, that it's the first race of the season, we don't want to do silly mistakes, we want to be slightly on the conservative side with some preparations – obviously still racing hard and being the best we can, but we need to make sure we do get the best points.

"That's why we didn't stop in the end, because stopping again is always one more risk, whether at the same time there's a safety car, or an issue with the pitstop.

"I just decided in the last few laps, even though I was in traffic, trying to find a bit of a gap.

"I was pulling back, with some cars behind, went to some other engine modes, and went for a quick lap. I'm glad I got it, so it's obviously one point more."

Bottas expects fastest lap to add to the show this year: "I think it will. Obviously it's only top 10, still I think always it's going to be priority to the position you finish the race, but there's a possibility for sure, everyone is keen to take one extra point."

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Wheelnut damage led to Grosjean's retirement

Wheelnut damage led to Grosjean's retirement

The Haas Formula 1 team believes damage to a wheelnut in Romain Grosjean's slow pitstop led to his eventual retirement from the Australian Grand Prix.

A year ago in Melbourne both Haas drivers retired because their wheels were not correctly affixed during pitstops. The team had been holding fourth and fifth places prior to that.

Twelve months on, Grosjean was running seventh behind teammate Kevin Magnussen before a slow pitstop in which Haas had to have two attempts to fit his left-front wheel.

That dropped Grosjean into the midfield, and he retired 14 laps later when the wheel became loose.

Team principal Gunther Steiner said the "deja vu" retirement was the result of the wheelnut having been damaged during the troubled stop.

"On the pitstop you could see that there was an issue, He lost seven seconds and the race was gone there - even if he got to the end there wouldn't have been points," said Steiner.

"They got the wheel back on, so we didn't lose the wheel like last year. But after 15 laps it mechanically broke because we forced it on."

Asked by to clarify exactly what had happened, Steiner said "the wheelnut broke", adding "it was on, but when you take it off and put it on it gets damaged and then the thread breaks".

In 2018 Haas had admitted that its Australian GP disaster was partly a consequence of insufficient pitstop practice during the winter.

Asked if memories of last year had made Haas practice pitstops too much this season and make the process more tense, Steiner replied: "No, no, no, it's difficult to define if you over-practice. We know not practicing doesn't work!

"I think we did very good preparation this year. I'm not a big believer in being unlucky, you make your own luck.

"If you think about last year, after Australia there were no issues and then we come back to Australia and there's an issue again.

"What can you say? I don't think it's about practicing. We did the right job and it just happened."

Steiner said Grosjean had been sanguine about what happened.

"He was disappointed. I spoke with him about it, which is the right thing to do, and apologised because this should not happen," he said.

"But he's in good spirits because the car is good. It's not his last chance to make points.

"That's what I said to the guys: let's not dwell too much on what and if and what could have happened and if this and that. Let's focus on how we fix this.

"Do we change people around? We'll come up with a solution. It happened. It's gone."

Magnussen continued to finish the race in sixth, meaning Haas leaves Australia fourth in the constructors' championship.

"In general there are more positives than negatives - therefore you don't see me in tears or down," Steiner added.

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