The 2015 Australian Grand Prix (formally the 2015 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix) was the first race of the 2015 Formula One season. The race was the 80th Australian Grand Prix, the 31st time as a round of the Formula One World Championship, and the 20th F1 race to be held at the Albert Park Circuit. Lewis Hamilton entered the race as World Champion.
Hamilton took pole position, over half a second ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes duo were clear of the remainder of the field, with Felipe Massa only managing to lap with 1.4 seconds of Hamilton. Marussia's return saw them not make it to the track at all, while the new McLaren-Honda partnership started off in disastrous fashion, as Jenson Button and Magnussen locked out the back row.
There was drama at the start of the race as Pastor Maldonado was hit off in a racing incident with Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Nasr. Once this was clear, Mercedes went on to dominate the race, with Hamilton ahead of Rosberg throughout, the Brit eventually winning by just over a second. Sebastian Vettel undercut Massa at the pit stops to claim a podium on his Ferrari début, ahead of Massa. Nasr performed admirably to take fifth place on his début for Sauber, being the last driver on the lead lap. Aussie Daniel Ricciardo struggled to sixth, with Nico Hülkenberg valiantly driving his Force India to seventh. Marcus Ericsson scored his first points with eighth place, giving Sauber a double-points score the first race after a pointless season, just beating out Carlos Sainz, Jr., whose tyres faded towards the end of the race. Sergio Pérez picked up the final point, while Button managed to bring home the Honda-powered McLaren, albeit very slowly. Räikkönen retired mid-race after wheel wasn't properly put on during a pit stop, and Max Verstappen's race as the youngest ever F1 driver ended in engine failure. Romain Grosjean retired on the first lap with power loss. Hamilton set the fastest lap.
The result left Hamilton with the initial advantage over Rosberg, with Mercedes' Championship lead standing at a mammoth 28 points after just the one race.
Soft "option" and medium "prime" tyres will be used for the Grand Prix.
As a result of recommendations made in the light of the Jules Bianchi's crash, the start time was pushed forward one hour from previous seasons to 16:00 local (05:00 UTC) to ensure that sunset does not occur before the four-hour time limit.
Fernando Alonso missed the Grand Prix on medical advice following his crash at the first Barcelona test. Alonso was advised to miss the event following sustaining minor retrograde amnesia following his accident. Despite feeling fully fit, Alonso took the advice of his doctor's and missed the event and began preparing for his return in Malaysia.
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren's reserve driver who finished second at this track in 2014, replaced him for the weekend. The race marked the first since 2002 which hadn't seen Alonso present on the grid.
His teammate, Jenson Button on the Thursday ahead of the race weekend was celebrating fifteen years to the day he had first entered Formula One. Button, a three-time winner at the Albert Park circuit commented, "I was speaking to Lewis at breakfast yesterday, we were talking about years in the sport. This is my sixteenth year and this is his ninth year and I don't know what is more surprising really."
A week before the race, former Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde began a launch of legal action towards Sauber in the Victorian Supreme Court, saying that they broke a promise to have him race for the team in the 2015 season, and had decided to use Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr instead. A judgement took place on 11 March to see if van der Garde would take one of the seats, while Sauber's lawyer Rodney Garratt stated that he would risk his life in a car that is not experienced for him. Van der Garde won the challenge, with the team being ordered by the court to let him race in the Grand Prix. However, Sauber made a public announcement that they will not have their and other drivers' safety compromised by having him drive for the first time in the C34 car. They later submitted an appeal towards the verdict beside lawyers who were representing Ericsson and Nasr. The appeal was arguing that the team terminated van der Garde's contract in February with the FIA's Contract Recognition Board being approved, as well as that the contract's confidentiality clauses were violated by van der Garde when he discussed it to the media. The lawyers who represented Nasr and Ericsson also said that the proper legal avenues were not obeyed by van der Garde, because the action was not informed to their clients until van der Garde committed his motion However, the Supreme Court of Victoria dismissed Sauber's appeal, ordering them to let van der Garde race, although the FIA's entry list did not include van der Garde.The team went into court on 14 March, where van der Garde's lawyer threatened to have the principal Monisha Kaltenborn fined or even arrested. However, van der Garde surrendered his right to compete in the Grand Prix, aiming to search for a more permanent solution in the future.
After they exited administration and received a new investment, Marussia confirmed that they would compete in the Grand Prix, with the drivers being Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi. Merhi had signed for a one-race deal. Marussia used an updated version of the MR03 car with the correct designs for the 2015 technical regulations. However, the car had yet to run under its new configurations and the possibility of the team not qualifying or even making the car out for practice was questionable.
Note: Drivers in italics did not compete in any sessions.
Nico Rosberg set the fastest time of 1:29.557, 0.029 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Before the session ended, Sebastian Vettel slid on the dirt, but he was still able to get the fifth fastest time. Felipe Massa's fastest time was between Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen respectively. Massa's teammate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest.
Due to Sauber's legal problems with whether Giedo van der Garde should take part or not, none of their drivers came out onto the track. Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi were unable to take part due to Marussia's cars not being prepared. Problems occurred on the car of Romain Grosjean which saw him set only 5 laps in the session, finishing the session in last place. His teammate Pastor Maldonado, however, had no problems getting into ninth . Following a spin by Ricciardo on Turn 15, he and Kvyat did not seem to be happy with the driveability of the power unit. Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen were fourteenth and fifteenth respectively, after their McLaren cars received small mechanical issues during the session.
Red Bull were left frustrated at the end of first practice, both driver's Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat were questioning the driveability of the Renault powerunit. Ricciardo who spun at turn 15 finished the session in tenth ahead of teammate Kvyat.
Once again, Rosberg beat Hamilton in the second practice session, although Rosberg made a complaint that his DRS was not operable. Behind them both were Vettel and Räikkönen respectively, though Räikkönen complained the lack of grip on his car's front end. While Bottas got the fifth fastest time, Massa could not compete due to a water leak. Kvyat, who was sixth fastest, complained about having understeer. Carlos Sainz, Jr., whose time was behind Kvyat's, spun at Turn 15, but it did not stop him from setting his fastest time.
Following an hydraulic leak on his car, Grosjean spun on the circuit, while Maldonado complained about losing power. However, they were able to get the eighth and ninth fastest times respectively, ahead of Nico Hülkenberg, who made a complaint about his aero balance not being great. Despite orders to let van der Garde race, Sauber had both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson take part in the second practice session. Nasr finished eleventh, but Ericsson was fifteenth when he made hard contact with the exit kerb at Turn 15, breaking his left-rear suspension. Force India's other driver Sergio Pérez was twelfth fastest ahead of Button, who suffered from power loss. Max Verstappen was only able to go fourteenth.
Button's teammate Magnussen was slowest after he made an incorrect approach to Turn 6, losing the rear end of the car, and crashed into the barriers 17 minutes following the start of the session. While the car was being recovered, the session was red-flagged for seven minutes. He later said on his Twitter account that the crash was his mistake. Ricciardo did not compete due to a change of his engine required. Due to their software match-up problems continuing, neither of Marussia's drivers went onto the track.
In the final practice session, Hamilton was finally able to beat Rosberg to the fastest time of 1:27.867. The two Mercedes drivers were split by Vettel, whose teammate Räikkönen got the sixth fastest time. Things were going well for Lotus as Grosjean was seventh fastest. Despite running onto the gravel during the session, Maldonado managed to finish eighth. Bottas got the fourth time, slightly faster than his teammate Massa. Although he too went off the track at one point, Sainz was able to get the ninth fastest time, five milliseconds ahead of Verstappen.
Nasr was eleventh fastest ahead of Ericsson, who had more drama of the session when he had a huge slide and half spin after he was exiting Turn 12. Following up was Hülkenberg, whose time was faster than the time of his teammate Pérez. Just as he was exiting the pits, Ricciardo's car stopped, but it started working again after it was pushed back to the pits by the marshals. However, his time was not very fast, resulting in fifteenth. Kvyat, meanwhile, had handling trouble, which put him into eighteenth. McLaren was still not fast in the session as Magnussen and Button finished sixteenth and seventeenth respectively. Still trying to resolve their electronic software issues, Marussia did not have any of their drivers go out on track, acknowledging that they would highly unlikely not take part in the race and wait for Malaysia.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1:31.570||10||No Time||17||1:31.185||15|
|9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber-Ferrari||No Time||17||1:32.303||15||1:30.613||12|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.247||12||1:30.980||12||1:30.993||14|
|12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber-Ferrari||No Time||18||1:30.755||11||1:29.934||10|
|19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||1:31.188||7||No Time||18||1:28.988||5|
|26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||1:32.073||11||1:30.016||6||1:32.830||18|
|27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:32.261||13||1:30.473||10||1:30.741||13|
|28||Will Stevens||Marussia-Ferrari||No Time||19||No Time||19||No Time||19|
|33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:31.067||6||1:31.395||14||1:29.952||11|
|55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso-Renault||1:31.014||4||1:30.071||7||1:29.869||9|
|98||Roberto Merhi||Marussia-Ferrari||No Time||20||No Time||20||No Time||20|
Following his process in the third practice session, Hamilton took the fastest time of Q1 ahead of Rosberg. Still suffering from electronic software issues, Marussia failed to get their drivers out on track. McLaren's problems were still worse when Button and Magnussen set the slowest times respectively. The other driver to be knocked out in Q1 was Ericsson.
Speaking afterwards, Button explained: "This level of performance wasn't a surprise for us: we knew from winter testing that the pace wasn't there, so we knew we weren't going to be competitive here. However, there's a good feeling about the car - I know we're so far off, but the basic car is there beneath me, and we're adding to our experience and learning with every lap we do. And that's really impressed me - we've gone through our first race weekend together, and we've managed to solve each issue that's confronted us. There's just a lot of work needed to add power and downforce - but this is an important car for the future of McLaren-Honda. It's going to be a really difficult race for us. We haven't done a race distance yet, and my longest run is 12 laps - but we want to do the best we can because there's so much learning to be had."
Rosberg was still beaten by Hamilton in Q2, while Ericsson's teammate Nasr was eleventh fastest, putting him in the knockout zone. Following him was Verstappen, who lost some momentum when he wobbled massively on the exit of Turn 5, but was able to do a great save. Following his engine problem in the third practice session, Kvyat could only handle thirteenth, followed by Hülkenberg and Pérez.
Going wide at Turn 15, Rosberg could still not beat Hamilton, who took pole position in Q3. Williams went well with Massa finishing in third, but Bottas was sixth after making a mistake at the final corner. After Q3 ended, he had to have medical checks after receiving a pain in his back before the end of Q2. Vettel drove well for Ferrari, getting fourth position ahead of Räikkönen. Ricciardo managed to get the seventh fastest time in his home country, followed by Sainz. The two Lotus drivers made the final two positions of Q3.
|7||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||11||1:29.788||9||1:28.679||7||1:28.329||6|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso-Renault||7||1:29.597||8||1:28.601||8||1:28.510||7|
|12||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||4||1:29.248||12||1:28.868||11|
|13||26||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||14||1:30.402||13||1:29.070||12†|
|14||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||9||1:29.651||14||1:29.208||13|
|15||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||13||1:29.990||15||1:29.209||14|
|107% time: 1:34.787|
|DNQ||28||Will Stevens||Manor-Ferrari||19||no time||DNQ|
|DNQ||98||Roberto Merhi||Manor-Ferrari||20||no time||DNQ|
- * Valtteri Bottas suffered a tear in a disc in his lower back, and did not race. All drivers who qualified behind him moved up a grid slot.
- † Did not start.
|Carlos Sainz, Jr.||8|
- * Daniil Kvyat's and Kevin Magnussen's cars stopped out on track on their out lap to the grid, with gearbox problems and an engine blowout respectively.
After it turned out that Bottas received a tear in a disc in his lower back, the FIA decided that Bottas was not fit enough to take part in the race. Kvyat and Magnussen could not start the race, when Kvyat received a transmission failure, and Magnussen suffered engine failure on the way to the grid, leaving the race with the lowest number of drivers since the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.
As the race started, Hamilton lead the way from Rosberg. Vettel started slowly, which allowed his teammate Räikkönen to go side by side on the approach to Turn 1. Clipping the inside kerb, Vettel went across the track, forcing Räikkönen to go wide on the outside. As Nasr tried to overtake him with Maldonado alongside, they all pinched together, making Maldonado crash into the barriers, and bringing out the safety car. Ericsson came in straight away at the end of lap 1 to change tyres, while Grosjean was forced to retire with power loss.
The safety car came in at the end of lap 3, with Hamilton making a brilliant start in front of Rosberg. Pérez, meanwhile, was forced to give his place back to Ericsson after overtaking him before the safety car came in. By lap 5, Hamilton was about 2.7 seconds ahead of Rosberg. Nasr was in fifth place on lap 6, but had a series of drivers behind him, consisting of Ricciardo, Sainz and Räikkönen. Räikkönen managed to overtake Sainz on the next lap while Ricciardo reported on the team radio that he was having "oversteer at high speed." Meanwhile, Pérez was adjusting his visor when he went onto the gravel, but was able to continue, still in last place. Rosberg was able to close the gap to Hamilton to under two seconds. On lap 12, former teammates Button and Pérez were battling for 12th place. On the next lap, Hamilton extended his lead to about two seconds. Yellow flags came out on lap 14 when Pérez and Button made contact. Pérez was making a dive at Button, who did not seem to see him, and slammed the door on him. This made Pérez spin, along with pieces of debris from his car going onto the track, although he stated to his team that it was not from his car. He was able to keep going, while Button was reminded by McLaren that there were 13 cars left and that there could be an offer for points. Massa was also managing to keep Vettel behind for third place. Räikkönen took a pit stop on lap 16, but it turned out to be a disastrous one, when the Ferrari pit crew struggled to get his left-rear tyre on, forcing him to wait for nearly nine seconds.
Massa came in on lap 21, rejoining in sixth place. He struggled to take fifth until Ricciardo took his pit stop on lap 23. Sainz took his pit stop on lap 24, which was much worse than Räikkönen's, when Toro Rosso's crew spent about 30 seconds trying to get his left-rear tyre unstuck. Vettel also came into the pits, and surprisingly came out in front of Massa, despite being told by the Williams team to push hard, with one of the mechanics saying "It's qualifying! It's qualifying!" Hamilton finally gave the lead to Rosberg when he pitted on lap 25, but regained it after Rosberg pitted on the next lap. Ericsson got into ninth place while Hülkenberg took a pit stop on lap 28. Verstappen took his first Formula One pit stop, coming back out in ninth place. However, his hopes of being the youngest driver to score points were over when his power unit failed, forcing him to retire from the race as his father Jos stormed out of the Toro Rosso garage upon seeing this.
On lap 36, Rosberg closed the gap to Hamilton down to about 1.5 seconds. By lap 37, Ricciardo was told on the team radio, "You're faster than Nasr, let's have him." Additionally, the Mercedes team told Rosberg to save fuel, making him open the gap slightly. Pérez took a pit stop on lap 39, but a problem with his front-right tyre dropped him back in eleventh place behind Button. Räikkönen came in for new tyres on lap 40, but he came to a halt on the circuit after it turned out that his rear-left tyre was not fitted on properly. Pérez managed to get past Button into the points on lap 43, and Ericsson took another pit stop after he took a trip off the track. Meanwhile, Massa was about three seconds behind Vettel in the battle for third. All of the drivers up to Ricciardo were lapped by Hamilton by lap 46, while Sainz was in eighth place ahead of Ericsson during lap 49. Button, meanwhile, mentioned to the McLaren team about having problems with his downshift.
Sainz was dropped to ninth after Ericsson overtook him for eighth on lap 55. Hamilton won the race 1.360 seconds ahead of Rosberg, while Vettel finished third in his first year for Ferrari. Massa was only able to manage fourth. Sauber finally scored points after 2014 when Nasr and Ericsson finished fifth and eighth respectively. Ricciardo was sixth in his home country ahead of Hülkenberg, whose teammate Pérez finished the race in tenth place behind rookie Sainz.
Thomas Weber Mercedes team joined on the podium to receive the winning manufacturer's award.
During the podium ceremony, the top three drivers were interviewed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who also joined Lewis to say to the crowd the famous quote from the Terminator franchise, "I'll be back."
On the day following the race, Red Bull made threats to pull out of Formula One if Mercedes keep on dominating for the rest of the season with the current regulations. Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone agreed with having a change, saying that Red Bull "are absolutely 100 per cent right." However, Hamilton went against the idea, saying "I was sitting next to Sebastian after the race and I said: 'Sebastian, you did this for four years. You were 30 seconds ahead. So I know how it must have felt back then.' He had nobody behind pushing him. At least I've got my team-mate, who I was really racing. I don't remember that ever being the case with Red Bull. If you want to put someone in the same car, there is no doubt where I would be finishing. People say it's all the car. Well, it's a big team that built this car. I'm the one who has to get in and extract the best from it." He later said a day later that "It's not for us...So you've got to hire some better people I guess. Ultimately it's a test and a challenge of evolution, of innovation and we've hired great people to - and we've done a great job and we weren't complaining when they were doing."
Due to not notifying the stewards about being unable to use any of their cars, the FIA summoned Marussia for the reason why they did not qualify. However, after the team wrote their explanation to the stewards, the FIA took no further action, although Ecclestone said that the team still had to pay freight costs.
Ferrari's unsafe pit release that led into Räikkönen retiring from the race was dismissed by the stewards, who stated: "The team explained that the system used to monitor the pit stops gave no indication that the car was in an unsafe condition when released and the team caused the driver to stop the car immediately the problem was apparent from the driver and telemetry. The team had paid close attention to the telemetry after the actions of the team members involved in the pit stop and further that the FIA Technical Delegate accepted the car was not in an unsafe condition when released the stewards took no further action."
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||50||1:30.945||209.915 km/h||1|
|2||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||47||1:31.092||+ 0.147 s||209.577 km/h||2|
|3||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Ferrari||36||1:31.426||+ 0.481 s||208.811 km/h||Ret|
|4||5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||52||1:31.457||+ 0.512 s||208.740 km/h||3|
|5||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber-Ferrari||51||1:31.560||+ 0.615 s||208.505 km/h||8|
|6||19||Felipe Massa||Williams-Mercedes||50||1:31.719||+ 0.774 s||208.144 km/h||4|
|7||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||46||1:31.959||+ 1.014 s||207.601 km/h||10|
|8||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||48||1:31.970||+ 1.025 s||207.576 km/h||7|
|9||12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber-Ferrari||46||1:32.612||+ 1.667 s||206.137 km/h||5|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||46||1:32.797||+ 1.852 s||205.726 km/h||6|
|11||55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso-Renault||49||1:32.872||+ 1.927 s||205.560 km/h||9|
|12||22||Jenson Button||McLaren-Honda||56||1:33.338||+ 2.393 s||204.534 km/h||11|
|13||33||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||30||1:34.925||+ 3.350 s||202.458 km/h||Ret|
Laps in the lead
|1||Lewis Hamilton||1 – 24||24||127.272 km|
|2||Nico Rosberg||25 – 26||2||10.606 km|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||27 – 58||32||169.696 km|
|1||Lewis Hamilton||56||296.968 km|
|2||Nico Rosberg||2||10.606 km|
- Best finish for a Sauber rookie on their debut (Felipe Nasr, 5th)
- Max Verstappen became the youngest driver to start a World Championship race at the age of 17 years and 166 days.
- Daniil Kvyat's first race for Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel's first race for Ferrari, and Marcus Ericsson's first race for Sauber.
- Due to his accident, this is the first time Fernando Alonso has missed a Grand Prix in his 14-year career.
- Sebastian Vettel's first race at any other team than Red Bull since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix. It is also his first Grand Prix at any other team than Red Bull and their sister team since the 2007 United States Grand Prix.
- First Grand Prix not to feature a car #1 since the 1994 Australian Grand Prix.
- First points for Marcus Ericsson, Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Felipe Nasr.
- 30th win for Mercedes.
- Sergio Pérez's 75th start (76th entry).
- First points for Sauber since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix.
- First time that Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen and Valtteri Bottas failed to start a race.
Standings after race
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