By Jonathon Momsen
Lewis Hamilton has won the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne with a dominant performance that saw him and Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg cruise home to victory.
Hamilton and Rosberg gapped the field and were never going to be caught with the next best, Sebastian Vettel, filling the final spot on the podium more than thirty seconds behind Rosberg.
Felipe Nasr overcame a frustrating build up to the grand prix to finish in the top five on his Formula One debut.
Despite the court battles occurring between Sauber and Giedo Van der Garde, both Nasr and Sauber team mate Marcus Ericsson put on career best performances finishing fifth and eighth respectively and are easily the most improved driver pairing at this early stage of 2015.
Daniel Ricciardo struggled and was unable to progress into the top five after qualifying a lowly seventh on Saturday, having to settle for sixth place in Sunday’s race.
He did better than most though as the opening grand prix of the season became a war of attrition.
Even before the lights went out Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren Honda went up in smoke as he suffered an engine failure on the out lap.
Not to be out done, Daniil Kvyat failed to reach the grid after scurrying through the gravel trap eventually parking his Red Bull without starting the race.
They both made it further than Manor Marussia, who were unable to compete due to software troubles in both of their cars and Valtteri Bottas, who suffered a back injury in qualifying leaving just 15 out of 20 competitors on the grid in Melbourne.
The drama continued on the opening lap as a turn one stoush between new Ferrari team mates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen triggered further contact back in the pack sending the unfortunate Pastor Maldonado into the wall forcing him out of the race.
Lotus would suffer even more as Romain Grosjean pulled into the pits shortly after, resulting in one of the most improved teams in Formula One without a car on track by just the second lap of the race.
Things could have been worse however as Jenson Button proved by starting and finishing at the back of the pack.
While he finished in 11th place he was the last of the remaining entrants to finish the race after being lapped twice by leader Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton’s performance was clinical, leading 56 of 58 laps around the Albert Park circuit.
The gap between Mercedes and the rest of the field showed no signs of closing yet, but the number of challengers has certainly risen.
The impressive pace of Vettel shows he is capable of pushing Hamilton and Rosberg as Ferrari continues to rebuild and gain strength.
Felipe Massa has again shown that Williams can be in the title hunt with a fourth place finish only a few seconds behind Vettel.
With only a fortnight before the Malaysian Grand Prix, it’s hard to see anyone reeling in the Silver Arrows before reaching Europe, but inclement weather and bold strategy may be a deciding factor in the tropics.
Image courtesy of Nehanda Radio