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Vettel ends Ferrari drought with Melbourne win

F1

Melbourne - Sebastian Vettel out-manoeuvred Lewis Hamilton and the world championship-winning Mercedes team with a stunning victory in the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday.

Vettel won by almost 10 seconds from Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a commanding victory of tactics and speed around the Albert Street circuit.

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Picture: William West / AFP.

It was Ferrari's first win in Melbourne since Kimi Raikkonen's victory in 2007 and Vettel's second in Australia after winning the 2011 race with Red Bull.

It was also a major fillip for the 2017 season and the new generation of quicker cars after Ferrari's superior pre-season test times as they chase their first world constructors' title since 2008.

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

"A title challenge is a long way ahead. For now we are just over the moon at the start we have made here today," Vettel said.

"I was not entirely happy with my start, there was a bit of wheel spin, but I was trying to keep the pressure on to give the message that we are here to fight.

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

Ferrari got the better of Mercedes in the sole round of tyre changes which ultimately decided the race.

Hamilton's early stop meant he rejoined behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen which allowed Vettel to open up a decisive gap at the head of the field.

"A big congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian," Hamilton said.

"In the race, I struggled with the tyres. I had to stop very early and I got stuck behind one of the Red Bulls but that's just the way it goes."

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was fourth with Verstappen fifth ahead of Brazilian Felipe Massa in the Williams.

Australia's big hope Daniel Ricciardo had a heartbreaking day with gear box problems ending his race on the 29th lap after he was forced to start from pit lane when his Red Bull car broke down on the warm-up lap.

RACE RESULTS

1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1:24:11.670

2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes +00:09.975

3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 00:11.250

4. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 00:22.393

5. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull – TAG Heuer 00:28.827

6. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 01:23.386

7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – Mercedes 1 lap

8. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso – Renault 1 lap

9. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso – Renault 1 lap

10. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India – Mercedes 1 lap

11. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Renault 1 lap

12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) Sauber – Ferrari 2 laps

13. Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren 2 laps

RETIREMENTS

Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 6 laps

Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas – Ferrari 10 laps

Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams-Mercedes 16 laps

Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – TAG Heuer 31 laps

Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber – Ferrari 36 laps

Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault 41 laps

Romain Grosjean (France) Haas – Ferrari 44 laps

FASTEST LAP

Kimi Raikkonen,1:26.538, lap 56.

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 25

2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 18

3. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 15

4. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 12

5. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull 10

6. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 8

7. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 6

8. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 4

9. Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso 2

10. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India 1

11. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Renault 0

12. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) Sauber 0

13. Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren 0

14. Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 0

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