The 2017 F1 season has begun with Sebastian Vettel beating Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight at the Australian Grand Prix.
It was Vettel’s first win since the Singapore GP in September 2015, and final proof that Mercedes’ domination is over as F1 ushers in a new era of faster cars.
Hamilton came in as pre-race favourite after storming to pole on Saturday, but Vettel’s Ferrari had an advantage on pace and tyre wear as he claimed a landslide victory on Albert Park.
A dejected Hamilton, who has voiced frustrations over losing acceleration, crossed the line almost ten seconds behind Vettel with Valtteri Bottas finishing third on his Mercedes debut.
Sunday’s victory is good omen for Vettel as the winner of the first race of the campaign has proceeded to win the championship in 19 of the last 27 seasons.
The four-time champion pressured Mercedes into an early pit stop and benefited when Hamilton was held up by Max Verstappen.
By the time Verstappen himself pitted, Vettel was already five seconds clear of Hamilton, with Mercedes opting to follow Vettel home in tacit acknowledgment they had no answers to the new speed of Vettel and the SF70-H.
Three-time champion, Hamilton, said at the start of the season that he wanted to fight for the title; it appears he’s finally got his wish.