Rosberg wins 2016 Formula One Australian Grand Prix, Alonso crashes out

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Mercedes AMG's Nico Rosberg at the 2016 Formula One Australian Grand Prix

Mercedes AMG’s Nico Rosberg at the 2016 Formula One Australian Grand Prix

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Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] put on a strong showing at an action-packed Formula One Australian Grand Prix today, though a slip in strategy meant Mercedes AMG would ultimately reign supreme.

The race was won by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg. Fellow Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in second about 8.0 seconds later, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished third just over 9.0 seconds behind the leader.

Hamilton started the race on pole and was joined at the front row by his teammate. Hamilton suffered a poor start and even came into contact with Rosberg going into Turn 1. Rosberg came out ahead while Hamilton dropped to sixth.

While this was happening, Vettel and his Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen, starting from row two, were able to pull into the lead, with Vettel ahead of Räikkönen. After 18 laps, though, the race was red-flagged because of a huge crash involving McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Haas’ Esteban Gutierrez. Alonso ran up the back of Gutierrez and crashed into a barrier before ending up in the gravel. Fortunately neither driver was hurt, though both were forced to retire.

The red flag wiped out the advantage the Ferrari men had built up and upset their team’s strategy. Vettel was on the supersoft tires prior to the red flag. Rosberg, though, took advantage of the stop to change to the mediums. Vettel would later have to pit again. Both Mercedes drivers were then able to pull into the lead. Räikkönen, meanwhile, was forced to retire after suffering electrical problems on lap 22.

With Räikkönen out, it meant fourth place ended up with local hero Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing, though he finished more than 23 seconds behind the leader. Fifth place went to Williams’ Felipe Massa almost a minute behind the leader. Haas’ other driver Romain Grosjean finished in sixth, securing the American team some points in its debut race.

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg managed to finish seventh while Williams’ other driver Valtteri Bottas was eighth. Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen put on a great show as they fourth with each other and other cars throughout much of the race. The two even came into contact towards the end, with Verstappen spinning out but later recovering to regain his position.

Renault’s comeback wasn’t the ideal start the team would have hoped for. Its drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen finished 11th and 12th, respectively. McLaren also didn’t have a great start to the new season. In addition to Alonso crashing out, his teammate Jenson Button could only manage 14th, a worrying sign for the team which has suffered from dismal performance in recent years.

Indonesian driver Rio Haryanto’s debut race ended with him retiring due to drivetrain problems with his Manor. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was also forced to retire while Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat couldn’t even start due to car trouble.

Following the results of the race, Rosberg leads the 2016 Drivers’ Championship with 25 points. Hamilton is second with 18 and Vettel is third with 15. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG has 43 points versus the 15 of Ferrari and 14 of Williams. The next race on the calendar is the Bahrain Grand Prix in a fortnight.

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