Motorsport

First blood to Ferrari at Australian GP

By Matthew Knight, CNN

Updated 1203 GMT (2003 HKT) March 31, 2017
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It's been a long time coming ... After a winless 2016, Ferrari is on top of the Formula One podium again. AFP/Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel raises a finger in triumph as he crosses the finish line to win the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday. AFP/Getty Images
Vettel's 43rd F1 career win was the German's fourth since joining Ferrari in 2015. AFP/Getty Images
"It was a fantastic grand prix," the four-time world champion told reporters. "When I was coming back to the pits and there were people running on track going wild with Ferrari flags -- it was unbelievable."
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Vettel's emphatic win, combined with teammate Kimi Raikkonen's fourth place in Melbourne, means Ferrari tops the constructors' standings for the first time since 2012. AFP/Getty Images
Ferrari's improved pace in 2017 was first revealed at winter testing in Barcelona, finishing top of the time sheets ahead of Mercedes. The 2017 F1 cars are faster thanks to improved aerodynamics. The new-look cars are wider, lower and increased tire width has helped improve grip -- especially when cornering. AFP/Getty Images
Vettel celebrates on the podium with one of the Ferrari engineers. Second-placed Lewis Hamiton and new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished third, are in the background. AFP/Getty Images
Melbourne's Albert Park was hosting its 22nd grand prix in what is the 68th F1 season. AFP/Getty Images
Hamilton led the way at the start, with Vettel, Bottas and Raikkonen in hot pursuit. The Briton had taken pole in Saturday's qualifying. AFP/Getty Images
Three-time world champion Hamilton got caught in traffic after his pit stop, and was ultimately outpaced by Vettel's Ferrari during the 57-lap race. AFP/Getty Images
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff was "surprised" by Ferrari's pace. "The Ferrari was simply the quicker car today," Wolff told F1.com. "The way Sebastian held on to Lewis was simply surprising. We were pushing flat out but were not able to pull away." AFP/Getty Images
Bottas (right) clinched his 10th career podium in his first race for Mercedes. "We worked really hard for this first race to be ready," the Finn told reporters. "Everything went nice and smoothly but it's just that the red guys are a bit too quick, so that means we need to work harder." AFP/Getty Images
Ferrari joy was matched by frustration for Red Bull in Melbourne. Daniel Ricciardo was hoping to become the first Australian to get on the podium at his home race, but failed to finish. He had crashed in the final stages of qualifying and started the race on the second lap after suffering electronic problems prior to the start. BRANDON MALONE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Ricciardo then suffered engine failure on lap 25 of the race. There was better news for his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (pictured). The teen star finished fifth, but some way off the pace of the Ferrari and Mercedes. AFP/Getty Images
Veteran driver Fernando Alonso (pictured) was buoyed by the performance of his McLaren car, despite having to retire shortly before the end with suspension issues. "In terms of driving, I probably had one of my very best races today," the two-time world champion said. "I was able to drive the car at my maximum. With such little degradation from this year's tires, it's enjoyable to be in the cockpit again."
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America's only F1 team, Haas, had a disappointing opening day of the season with Romain Grosjean and new driver Kevin Magnussen both forced to retire from the race with engine and suspension failures respectively. AFP/Getty Images
Hamilton (left) is still confident he can beat Vettel (right) over the season but says it will be tough. "(This result) shows we are going to have a race on our hands, which we are very happy to have, which is great for the fans," Hamilton said.
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The drivers posed for a group photo at Albert Park.

Front row (L-R): Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari); Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes); Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen (Red Bull); Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon (Force India).
Middle row (L-R): Stoffel Vandoorne, Fernando Alonso (McLaren); Felipe Massa, Lance Stroll (Williams); Nico Hulkenberg, Jolyon Palmer (Renault).
Back row (L-R): Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean (Haas F1); Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso); Marcus Ericsson, Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber).
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