THE AUSTRALIAN Grand Prix has been run and won for another year and for those on the grid, as always, just one of their 20 stories had a happy ending.
And it certainly wasn’t Lewis Hamilton’s.
Sebastian Vettel jagged a win and sent the Tifosi into raptures, Kimi Raikkonen making it a 1-3 for the Scuderia.
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RICCIARDO: So close, so far from Albert Park podium
Here are some of the other tales from the opening race of the 2018 season.
THE HALO’S SURPRISE HIDDEN BENEFIT
There was plenty of talk about the negative aspects of the halo, but the Australian GP unveiled at least one positive.
Leave it to Kimi Raikkonen to find the silver lining.
“I think it was helpful here because the sun, when it’s coming in the right height, it’s blocking the sun in the eyes,” he said.
Vettel backed up his teammate’s assertion, even if he was slightly sure of the vocabulary.
“I don’t know what you call the thing in the car … it worked like a sun visor, that helped,” he said.
But we’ll leave the final word to the pragmatic Finn.
“Maybe people don’t like how it looks but y’know it might make a difference for us one day and it’s a good thing to have,” he said.
HELLO, EPA? YES, I’D LIKE TO REPORT A TOSSER AT TURN 1 …
Sergey Sirotkin’s race suit may not have made it past his maiden grand prix.
The Russian rookie was the race’s first retirement, the Williams driver enduring a terrifying moment when his brakes failed at the end of the back straight on Lap 5.
The cause? A piece of rubbish he believes he picked up at Turn 1.
“You would not believe what happened — it was a plastic sandwich bag, which went into the rear-right brake duct,” he told media after the race.
“We still have a piece of the bag in our bodywork. Yes, that’s how exciting it is. It was a big bag, a big sandwich bag.
“It was Lap 3 or Lap 4, and it made (the brakes) overheat massively. It caused massive temperature spikes and destroyed all of the brakes.”
The team will do further investigating to determine if the plastic bag was indeed the cause.
TUMMY TROUBLE NEARLY BROUGHT SAINZ UNDONE
Carlos Sainz Jr’s run to 10th place was hardly a run in the park.
In fact, the Spaniard came perilously close to vomiting in his helmet during the race.
The nausea had been caused by a mechanical issue with a system that was meant to help the driver stay hydrated during the race.
“We had a problem with the water pump and during the first 10 or 15 laps it was squirting water on my face, so I was drinking too much water,” he said.
“When the Safety Car came out I had a lot of water in my stomach and was moving from side to side and I was feeling it a lot in the corners and I wasn’t feeling well.
“I managed to survive as best I could and I reached the finish.
“With the g-forces we have this year, having the stomach full of water, moving from side to side, I don’t know if it was a stomach cramp or what, but I wasn’t comfortable.
“So I’m half happy to have been able to score a point because there was a moment in the race where I nearly started vomiting during the Safety Car, so I struggled.”
MAX’S BOULEVARDE OF BROKEN DREAMS. AND PARTS
Max Verstappen’s hopes of getting stuck into the Mercedes and Ferraris ended when Kevin Magnussen’s Haas swept across his bows and into fourth place at the first corner of the race.
Try as he might, the Dutchman couldn’t find a way past the Ferrari-powered Haas, and appeared to have been frustrated into a spin at Turn 1 a few laps later.
Turns out young Max had his hands full with a car problem.
“Suddenly I got a lot of issues with the car, just balance problems,” he explained to Sky Sports.
“We found out after 4-5 laps something broke off the car. All the time in the middle of the corner I was just losing a lot of grip and at one point it caught me out so I spun.
“It’s not ideal of course, luckily with the 360 I didn’t lose too many positions.
“Then you’re in the hunt but you cannot overtake in this track, so it’s a bit of a shame.
“With the circumstance with the damage we had, we scored some points.”
TYRING ALBERT PARK DEBUT FOR HARTLEY
Brendon Hartley’s first Australian GP won’t be one he’ll have fond memories of.
A massive lockup at Turn 1, Lap 1 was the precursor to a lonely afternoon.
“I locked the brakes into Turn 1 at the start and flat-spotted the tyres, so I had no choice but to pit because it was probably the biggest flat spot I’ve ever had,” he said.
The team fitted soft Pirelli rubber in a bid to run to the end, but that was scuppered by a puncture.
“It was game over from that point onwards and I think I had a little bit of damage on the rear from that, so I was driving around by myself all day.”
For the record, he was the last classified car in 15th place, one lap down.
His Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly’s Albert Park debut ended early, an MGU-H problem with his Honda power unit putting it in limp-home mode on the 13th lap.
“After Turn 12 the engine just switched off, it came back on again but I was really slow and I couldn’t upshift,” he said.
“I tried to return to the pits and then I was told to stop. It’s a shame, especially since we didn’t have anything go wrong in testing.”
THE FINAL WORD ON ‘PARTY MODE’
Lewis Hamilton flatly denied that the alleged ‘party’ Mercedes engine mode was a thing, never mind his seven tenth advantage in qualifying.
He has an unlikely ally: Sebastian Vettel.
“You know we do get a bit of data, GPS data and stuff like that,” he said after the race.
“I think they did turn it up for Q3 but not by seven-tenths.
“I think probably if you look at qualifying carefully — I tried to do so last night — it’s fair to say they were quick in Q1, quicker than us, Lewis was quick in Q2 and then his second run, I don’t know, something happened.
“So, his last run in Q3 was the only proper run at the end and he had a clean run and I don’t think the gain that he had in time was down to engine. Probably a tenth, a little bit more, but not seven tenths.
“The credit is for his lap that he did and not for the engine power.
“It’s completely fine what they’re doing because they didn’t do anything special. Not more than they did last year, probably even a bit less by the looks of it.
“So, it was clear that he just had a very good lap and he drove well.