Saturday 18 November 2017

Rivals in a spin as Hamilton wins opener at a canter

Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates on the podium next to Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP after winning the Australian Formula One Grand Prix

Daniel Johnson

The chequered flag had barely fallen in yesterday's Australian Grand Prix before Mercedes were involved in a bitter row with their rivals who were demanding an urgent shake-up of the rules to prevent a two-horse race this Formula One season.

The scale of victory enjoyed by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg left Ferrari and Red Bull in particular reeling, immediately pressuring the sport's rule-makers to peg back Mercedes' advantage for the sake of the show. However, their pleas drew a withering response from Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, who urged them to "get your f****** head down, work hard and try to sort it out".

Rosberg, who finished second behind his team-mate, even suggested he hopes the competition will gain ground to help the sport, prompting ridicule from third-place man Sebastian Vettel in his first drive for Ferrari.

But Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, was most vocal in his warning, after a chastening weekend for the team with engine supplier Renault hopelessly behind the rest.

"I fear the interest will wane," Horner said. "The highlight for me was Arnie (Schwarzenegger) on the podium."

So towering was Hamilton's victory in Melbourne, the world champion almost rose above Mr Universe as he surveyed the pretenders to his throne after the race.

Hamilton, the cyborg assassin, the undisputed governor of F1, obliterated the opposition with machine-like precision. Pole position, fastest lap, chequered flag. Job done. Do not let the margin of victory over his team-mate Rosberg - 1.3 seconds - fool you. This was taken at a canter. Every time the German attempted to claw back ground, Hamilton instantly reasserted himself.

It was a worrying prelude to the season for the rest of the sport.

Cue misery in the paddock and instant calls for a change to the rules. Formula One must not be too hasty, remembering that there have been dull openers before. (© The Daily Telegraph, London).

Telegraph.co.uk

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