McLaren equal best result of last Honda era in first race with Renault

2018 Australian Grand Prix stats and facts

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Sebastian Vettel drew first blood in the grudge match between him and Lewis Hamilton as both bid to become Formula One’s third five-times world champion.

The Ferrari driver scored his 48th career victory and also made his 100th appearance on the podium. As Vettel is one race shy of his 200th start, that means he’s finished on the rostrum in more than more than half the races he’s started (and he’s had a few confiscated as well, at the Hockenheimring in 2012 and Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in 2016). For Ferrari it was their 950th race and 230th victory.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Albert Park, 2018
2018 Australian Grand Prix in pictures
After leading the opening 18 laps of the race Hamilton had to settle for second place. However he did notch up the 73rd pole position of his career.

He already has five more poles than the previous all-time record holder Michael Schumacher, so how high will this record stand to be after another 20 races? Ominously for his rivals, Hamilton’s 0.664s advantage on Saturday was greater than he enjoyed in most of his 11 poles last season, the only exception being at Monza where it rained.

That weekend was also where Vettel lost the championship lead to Hamilton last year. Vettel is back on top of the points again and Ferrari are ahead in the constructors’ for the first time since Monaco last year.

The race marked the fifth anniversary of Kimi Raikkonen’s last F1 win. He made his 22nd podium appearance since that date, further increasing his record for most consecutive podium finishes without a win. Hamilton, meanwhile, is now just one race shy of matching Raikkonen’s record of scoring points in 27 consecutive races.

Raikkonen was the more convincing of the two Ferrari drivers for much of the weekend. He out-qualified Vettel (something he only managed four times last year) and was quicker in the first stint. Only in the final stint on soft tyres did he seem to lose that edge, which could have been down to the fact he ran the longest stint at the end.

Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Valencia, 2012
Three drivers, 10 championships
Between them Hamilton, Vettel and Raikkonen have nine world championship titles. This is the most titles held by the occupants of a podium with one exception, the 2012 European Grand Prix, where the top three had 10 between them: Alonso (two), Schumacher (seven) and Raikkonen (one).

Daniel Ricciardo had to settle for fourth place, meaning he has still not scored a legitimate podium at his home race: He stood on the rostrum in 2014 but was later disqualified on a technicality. As a consolation he took the fastest lap, the 10th of his career, giving him as many as champions Graham Hill, John Surtees and Mario Andretti.

Fifth place for Fernando Alonso and ninth for Stoffel Vandoorne meant that McLaren, in their first race with new engine supplier Renault, matched the best individual and joint results they achieved in three seasons with Honda. They took fifth and ninth in Hungary 2015, Monaco 2016 and America 2016. It was also the first time McLaren scored points in a season-opening race since the last time they didn’t have Honda engines, when Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were second and third in 2014.

Valtteri Bottas gained the most places of any driver in the race, moving up seven spots on his way to eighth place following his crash in qualifying. Renault made good on their pre-season aim of scoring points with both cars at every race as both Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jnr finished in the top 10.

However 11th and 12th for Force India meant this was the first time in 14 races they failed to score a point. There was no joy for Marcus Ericsson either, who is now one race away from going 50 in a row without scoring.

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2018 Australian Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “McLaren equal best result of last Honda era in first race with Renault”

  1. I see mclaren getting better and better. Slow to start with slowed testing and limited aero kit, but the chassis is sound. They have lots of updates coming, and I believe they will be always top 3/4 as the year goes along with maybe a few podiums.

  2. This is the first opening race and also the first Australian Grand Prix in over 20 years to have at least 14 finishers on the lead lap. There were a total of 15 classified finishers.

    2018: 14 (15 classified)
    2017: 6 (13 classified)
    2016: 13 (16 classified)
    2015: 5 (11 classified)
    2014: 10 (13 classified)
    2013: 12 (18 classified)
    2012: 12 (16 classified, 3 classified despite failing to finish)
    2011: 7 (14 classified)
    2010 Australia: 12 (14 classified)
    2010 Bahrain: 13 (15 classified)
    2009: 11 (15 classified, 3 classified despite failing to finish)
    2008: 5 (8 classified, 2 classified despite failing to finish)
    2007: 6 (17 classified)
    2006 Australia: 9 (13 classified)
    2006 Bahrain: 11 (18 classified)
    2005: 10 (17 classified)
    2004: 6 (14 classified)
    2003: 10 (13 classified, 2 classified despite failing to finish)
    2002: 3 (8 classified)
    2001: 7 (14 classified, 1 classified despite failing to finish)
    2000: 7 (9 classified)
    1999: 7 (8 classified)
    1998: 2 (9 classified)

    That’s as far back as I care to check. If anybody else wants to carry on, please do

    1. Interesting. Too bad more cars didn’t translate into racing action on track. It was Monaco-like in that regard.

      1. Indeed. I can’t help but think that if the cars didn’t have so much aero, this could possibly be one of the most competitive seasons for a very long time

    2. Just wanted to point out an interesting one: I remember in 1995, last adelaide edition, damon hill won with 2 laps of margin, so only 1 car on lead lap!

  3. Hamilton has now failed to convert 5 poles into victories on a single track (Albert Park). He equals Senna for the San Marino track (1985, 1986, 1987, 1990 and of course the fateful 1994 edition).

  4. Not a single overtake in the last 23 laps. Is there any record of this?

    1. Something very similar happened at the last race (2017 Abu Dhabi)… what a horrible back-to-back pair!

      https://www.racefans.net/2017/11/26/2017-abu-dhabi-grand-prix-interactive-lap-charts/

      1. @neilosjames – Agree.

        F1 needs to go on a serious aero and weight diet. The teams will never give up a single point of downforce on their own.

        Hope we don’t need to plan a fan intervention, but we need to consider it. Let’s invite all the team’s over to Keith’s place for an ‘awards’ dinner – then put them into an aero-rehab clinic for a month. ;-)

      2. I agree there were few overtakes but it was a good race imo, I gave it 8 on the rating page; on the other hand I gave 3 or 4 to abu dhabi 2017 and I’m a halo hater!

    2. Unfortunately no, There are 4 races that recorded 0 overtakes. The most recent one being the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.

  5. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    26th March 2018, 19:08

    Vettel became the first driver to win back to back races in Australia since Button in 2009/10. Michael Schumacher is the only other driver to have won consecutive races at Australia. Vettel also became the third driver to lead 3000 laps.

    1. @vettelfan17 you can add damon hill to that – he won the oz gp in 1995 and 1996. his was a cooler stat because they happened to be consecutive races – the last of 1995 in adelaide and the first of 1996 in melbourne.

      1. Vettel fan 17 (@)
        27th March 2018, 11:48

        Sorry, I meant Melbourne only. Though Hill did win consecutive races there and in consecutive races.

  6. For the 2nd season running Haas faced a double-DNF on this circuit and Ericsson has suffered a DNF on this circuit for two times in a row now as well. Also, the 3rd race in which Haas has made an error of letting a driver go with the car being in an unsafe condition following a pit stop (the previous two being 2016 Malaysian and the 2017 Hungarian GPs respectively).
    – Sirotkin became the first ‘race retiree’ of this season. Furthermore, Gasly’s first DNF in his so far short F1 career.
    – Hartley finally got to take part in a race without having to face a grid-drop penalty.
    – For two season’s in a row, a driver has crashed in Q3.
    – The official lap record from 2004 still stands although the outright record got beaten, which in the end was to be expected.
    – Although this is mentioned in the article already, I’ll still bring it up here as well, but in a bit different way: Hamilton now needs to keep both his points-scoring as well as race-finishing streak alive for at least two more races to beat the record of consecutive points-finishes held by Raikkonen.

    1. I forgot to include a thing regarding the first paragraph: Since at least 2013 an unsafe release due to a loose wheel has occurred at least once every season. Furthermore, this type of incident has now happened for two consecutive races.

  7. Max didn’t win driver of the day….

    1. Max didn’t win driver of the day…. for the fourth race in a row! And he’s on his way to most times not winning driver of the day in a season. Record so far for him is 17 from last season.

  8. There wasn’t a single Grand Prix in Melbourne (out of total 23), where the first 3 drivers on the starting grid have all kept their positions on the finish.

  9. Totally unrelated, but I’d like to suggest something. If you are posting headlines claiming a piece of information for a motion of the debate, like “mercedes power scary by Riciardo” then you should have followed it with an article of vettel claiming it isn’t and with it link other already published article links of opinions of other F1 team members on the same topic just so, even though we have already read the old argument before of another member on the same topic, we can read it again and debate better.

    Just a suggestion. The new site content is great. But its too much this driver saying this and that driver saying that but I’d rather prefer it to have clammed up views of motions on a topic even if the motions are old. Eg. (totally unrelated) “Hamilton saying the halo is ugly” should include links to articles of opinions of other drivers and team members on it or just a quote. It gives a better perspective according to me because I prefer views of all against 1.

    1. Well done Prab. From what you say, you’re well on the way to starting your very own F1 Blog! Keep us informed of your progress, and remember not to be too downhearted by the critics.. 👍

  10. If Vettel’s engine had exploded a couple of minutes later in Bahrain 2016, his 100th podium would have come in his 200th start.

    7th pole for Hamilton in Melbourne – his most at any circuit (but only 2 wins). He also keeps alive his record of at least 1 pole per season since his debut.

    Hamilton and Vettel keep alive their records of at least 1 podium every year since 2007 and 2008 respectively.

    Alonso keeps alive his record of at least 1 point every year since 2003 – he is only 1 year shy of Button’s record (2000-2016 inclusive).

    Red Bull keep alive their record of at least 1 fastest lap every year since 2009.

    Ferrari keep alive their records of at least 1 point per season since 1950 (or 1958 depending on your view), and at least 1 podium every year since 1981.

    16th consecutive season in which at least 1 Mercedes-powered car has scored a pole position – just 1 shy of Ford Cosworth’s record (1967-1983 inclusive).

    First time since 2004 that Ferrari have got both cars onto the Melbourne podium.

    Hulkenberg is the first driver ever to manage 4 consecutive 7th-place starts.

    First time since Italy 1961 that 4 Ferrari-powered cars started in the top 6.

    Thanks to magnetimarelli.com and statsf1.com for some of these.

    1. Interesting ones, so basically ferrari has been at least a midfield team for the last 37 years, if you are in the lower midfield you don’t get podiums, see mclaren honda’s last stint, with the caveat that there were more retirements back then.

  11. All 6 Renault powered cars finished within the top 10. The last time this happened (6 renault cars in the top 10) was Brasil ’86

  12. McLaren equal best result of last Honda era in first race with Renault

    Only because they were gifted 4 places.
    Being thoroughly out-qualified by both other Renault powered teams is a better reflection of where McLaren’s performance actually stands, and it’s not at all flattering.

  13. Love that picture of the 2012 GP at Valencia.

    3 famous Ferrari drivers with Andrea Stella who engineered all 3 of them in some capacity over the years.

  14. Something that seems obvious to me but I don’t see mentioned often is the fact that the current regs of any given timeframe seem to suit some drivers better than others.
    It’s always hard to compare because of many other variables, and some drivers excel through any changes, but I’ll use Raikkonen as an example. He was as quick as anyone else out there in ’07 but since rejoining Ferrari he has lacked that special something. Last year with the new regs he started coming good again and pipped Vettel to a couple of pole positions.

    My theory is that now this year’s cars are more developed it will come towards his style more and he will give Vettel a harder time. I think the same is also true of Massa last year, and Webber with the blown diffuser era. I’m hoping that it’s also the case for Hulkenburg and Grosjean, but the theory works both ways and some may go ‘off the boil’ so to speak.

  15. @jaymenon10 I think that was in Ferrari’s mind too when they sent Stella to the podium.

  16. Lets be honestest without the HAAS problems and the Redbull spinning they would have been about 9th. For a team that has “The Best chassis” they were behind by over 1 sec to the team they said they would be within a half second of.

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