Lewis Hamilton found himself in the rare position of playing second fiddle to his team-mate Nico Rosberg as Mercedes went one-two in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday. Rosberg, who didn’t have to pass anyone and led for 23 laps of the 57-lap Melbourne season-opener, won his fourth straight GP after claiming the final three races of last season.
Hamilton’s runner-up place means the world champion is not leading the world championship for the first time in 18 months with Germany’s Rosberg heading to the next race in Bahrain on top of the standings. Hamilton was always trying to make up for lost ground from a tardy start off the pole and finding himself in sixth spot out of the notorious hairpin first turn as Rosberg largely enjoyed the rub of the green in the race. “Honestly, it was a great race,” the 31-year-old said.
“I love the fact we had to come for far behind. It was very tricky out there. It was just trying to get through the traffic with these tyres on. “I’m really happy to get second. It’s a good result for the team. I’ve had much worse in the first race. I take it as a real bonus to come back. Bag the points today.” Hamilton did not exactly explain why he was slow off the grid and squandering his advantage from qualifying, but was proud of how he fought back from early adversity. “My one (start) was quite eventful but fortunately I didn’t get any damage but obviously lost a lot of ground,” he said. “Getting off (pole) I just fell to maybe third or fourth. I was on the outside of Nico and Nico was forced wide or something maybe and I was on the outside of him so a little bit on the grass so I lost a little bit of ground.
“Got overtaken by quite a few people and after that did something to try and fight my way back which was hard work, but I enjoyed it.” Hamilton’s party-boy image rankles the F1 purists and he is in stark contrast to the earnest Rosberg. Respected F1 elder and three-time world champion Jackie Stewart has accused Hamilton of failing to come to terms with the “intoxicating” lifestyle of being a world champion. “It is a very intoxicating lifestyle to be a world champion racing driver. Lewis still hasn’t got over that. I think he will get over it, but I guess it is called maturity,” he said.
David Coulthard, the British former F1 racer and now television commentator, has also queried Hamilton’s balance between his lifestyle away from the track and his driving for Mercedes. “Lewis probably does not know where the limit is himself, but will there come a point when his lifestyle away from racing begins to take its toll?,” he said this week. “It seems crazy to question whether Lewis can win another title, given that he’s won the last two, but you have to ask where his energy is going. “He splits his time between F1 and being a global star — the car and the music. “There’s no question that Lewis is fit and focused when he’s at the racetrack. “But he does have a full-on social life away from Grand Prix racing.”
Driver and Constructor Standings after the Formula One Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on Sunday:
1. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes – 25
2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes – 18
3. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari – 15
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull – 12
5. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams – 10
6. Romain Grosjean (France) Haas – 8
7. Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India – 6
8. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams – 4
9. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso – 2
10. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso – 1
11. Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault – 0
12. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Renault – 0
13. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India – 0
14. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren – 0
15. Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber – 0
16. Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Manor – 0
1. Mercedes – 43
2. Ferrari – 15
3. Williams-Mercedes – 14
4. Red Bull-TAG Heuer – 12
5. Haas-Ferrari – 8
6. Force India-Mercedes – 6
7. Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 3
8. Renault – 0
9. McLaren – 0
10. Sauber-Ferrari – 0
11. Manor-Mercedes – 0