The 2017 Australian Grand Prix (officially the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix) was the first race of the 2017 Formula One season, the 33rd time the Australian Grand Prix was held on the Formula One calendar, and the 22nd time it was held at the Albert Park Circuit. It was held between 24 March and 26 March 2017. Nico Rosberg was the defending winner, though he did not compete due to his retirement.
Lewis Hamilton took pole position, beating Sebastian Vettel's pole position time from 2011, and matching Ayrton Senna's six poles at the Australian Grand Prix. Vettel joined him on the front row. Hamilton kept the lead going into the corner, but after he got stuck behind Max Verstappen following his pit stop, Vettel took the effective lead and carried on to take his forty-third career victory, also his and Ferrari's first win since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton came home in second, and his teammate Valtteri Bottas completed the podium in his first race for Mercedes.
After he won his first championship at the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg retired from Formula One on 2 December 2016, which marked the first time a reigning champion would not take part since Alain Prost in 1994. With just one seat left available, Mercedes brought Valtteri Bottas to the team to partner Lewis Hamilton, therefore leaving Williams with the opportunity to invite Felipe Massa back and partner Lance Stroll, while Stoffel Vandoorne, who replaced Jenson Button at McLaren, started his first full season after he competed at the previous year's Bahrain Grand Prix to fill in for Fernando Alonso at the time.
Lewis Hamilton was guarded about his team's chances. Ahead of the race, he commented "Time will tell but I think in testing, it looks like Ferrari are favourite. They were the quickest in testing, we couldn't match their times. So it will be interesting to see where we have come from testing and what we have learnt, and how we apply it and where we really do stand." Mercedes had once again proved to be the most reliable in testing; their cars completed an immense 1096 laps throughout the course of the eight days at Barcelona. Nonetheless, they remained wary of a threat from Ferrari who looked incredibly quick over the closing days of testing.
Ferrari remained guarded about the chances heading into the new season. The team had previously been hyped by the media heading into the 2016 season, only to provide a very minimal challenge to the dominant Mercedes cars. A reserved Sebastian Vettel would comment "it's been a big task to get this car together, big challenge, obviously the regulations changed a lot. If you win races, you can start to talk about a championship, but not before. I am not a genius but I don't think it takes a genius to know that March, April, May, and the first two thirds of the championship you don't really think of a championship, you just try to win races and see where it takes you."
Red Bull were looking guarded ahead of the first race in Melbourne. Their new RB13 did not appear to have the same design complexity of their leading rivals, the Mercedes W08 EQ Power+ and the Ferrari SF70H. The paddock was expecting the team to bring new aerodynamic upgrades for the first race in order to match their championship rivals at Mercedes and Ferrari. Australia's home talent, Daniel Ricciardo would comment "I don't believe we executed a perfect day in testing, and we've also got new parts, so those two combinations will make us faster, will it make us as fast as Ferrari and Mercedes, it would be a good effort if we got up to them already by this race, but I don't we are a million miles off."
For the race, Pirelli confirmed ultrasoft tyres to have their first use in the 2017 season and the Australian Grand Prix, plus the supersoft and soft tyres. Because the usual selection deadlines occurred before the tyres designed for 2017 had been used in pre-season testing, Pirelli ruled that all drivers must use seven sets of ultrasoft tyres, four sets of supersofts, and two sets of softs each.
Red Bull felt confident that they might not be in a fight for the title, feeling that Mercedes would once again win the season. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz, Jr. felt confident that Toro Rosso could become one of the fastest teams in the midfield. Despite having several engine woes in pre-season testing, Renault had enough time to fix the engines in time for the Australian Grand Prix. Although Honda stated they were "heading in the right direction" with their power units for McLaren, Fernando Alonso felt prepared for another struggling weekend, while new Force India driver Esteban Ocon revealed his goal to finish in the points at every race.
In technical updates, Mercedes and Toro Rosso rose their suspensions' heights with an extension located on the upright in order to make the airflow better.
Because of the technical regulation changes for 2017, the circuit had to be checked for modifications in order to improve safety. The tyre barriers were reprofiled, and Techpro barriers were added at the run-off areas.
On 25 March, Pascal Wehrlein, who moved from Manor to Sauber, announced that he would not compete in the race because his fitness level was not ready for a complete race distance, thus Sauber announced that Antonio Giovinazzi would compete in the third practice session, qualifying and race.
Ahead of the session, the track temperature sat at 27 with an air temperature of 21. Grosjean is the first car onto the track, being followed onto the track by Vettel, Magnussen, Ericsson, Massa, Hulkenberg and Hamilton. All of the drivers dive into the pits after their installation lap, Ericsson however stays on track for one extra lap. After eight minutes all the cars have completed their installation laps.
Hamilton notifies his team over the radio that he wants to change his boots. He exits the car to put on his new racing boots. At McLaren, Vandoorne has an aero rake on the side of his car. The team still making up for lost time, after a dismal pre-season testing.
The circuit goes quiet for 15 minutes, Stroll becomes the first driver to break the silence, he then was followed onto the circuit by Ericsson's Sauber. Stroll on the super-softs becomes the first driver to set a timed lap of the weekend. Joining Stroll and Ericsson on track were Massa, Wehrlein and Ricciardo.
Ricciardo is warned that Red Bull's GPS data is intermittent, however he still goes on to set the fastest time of the session. The Red Bull sporting an updated front wing and bargeboards for the weekend. Ricciardo's time at the top is short lived, Hamilton in the Mercedes quickly sets the new fastest time with a 1:26.478. Perez's Force India and the second Mercedes of Bottas then set times for second and third fastest.
Pace setter, Hamilton, can be seen exploring the limits, he runs wide into turn eleven and then misses the apex for turn twelve. Ricciardo, also can be seen having a wild moment, whilst being stuck behind Stroll, he ran wide and onto the grass at turn one. Raikkonen goes fourth fastest on the soft tyres, the Ferrari driver is predictably slower than Hamilton, Ricciardo and Bottas who have all ran on the super softs.
Alonso is setting laps for McLaren, the team as was expected were down on performance, however were hoping for improved reliability. His teammate, Vandoorne, remains in the garage, alongside the cars of Ocon and Verstappen. Ocon was the single car not to have set an installation lap. Verstappen, meanwhile entered the track, however immediately reported "I keep losing synch of the gears" over the radio. Verstappen's troubles meant his first time was good enough for only thirteenth. Bottas meanwhile went on to take the fastest time.
Nearly 40 minutes into the session, and Ocon, who had been grounded in the pits with a brake problem had finally completed his installation lap. The session meanwhile enters another quiet period, before the silence is broken once again by Stroll, also being joined by Verstappen on the track. The two cars both set out on the super softs.
Vandoorne enters the track, where he would go on to set his first flying lap of the afternoon. Stroll moves into the top ten whilst Verstappen demonstrates improved pace, first going sixth fastest before moving up to the fourth fastest time. Vandoorne's first time is nearly six seconds off the leading pace.
Ricciardo in the Red Bull takes the fastest time of the session, however his time at the top is short lived. Bottas in the Mercedes becomes the first driver to run the ultra-softs and takes the fastest time with a 1:24.803. Interestingly, he manages to go only a tenth faster than Ricciardo's best time on the super softs. Bottas's best time is then smashed by teammate Hamilton, whom also running on the ultra softs goes fastest with a 1:24.220. "If Bottas is that far off at the end of the session, then he will be asking some serious questions" noted Paul di Resta.
An hour into the session, Hamilton led Bottas, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Massa, Perez, Stroll, Kvyat and Alonso. Interestingly, the Ferrari of Vettel was sitting down in thirteenth, having barely completed any running. Raikkonen likewise had not completed many laps, the Ferrari's taking a conservative approach to the first practice session. According to Ted Kravitz, the team not wanting to "waste engine mileage on a dusty circuit that is only going to change."
Hamilton continued to circulate well on the ultra-softs, Bottas meanwhile ran wide and through the gravel at turn 12. The Toro Rosso's appear to be struggling, Kvyat demonstrating visible handling problems throughout the circuit. Towards the end of the session, the Ferrari's of Vettel and Raikkonen finally enter the circuit. Vettel's first true run puts him sixth, right behind teammate Raikkonen. Hulkenberg breaks into the top ten for Renault.
Hamilton returns to the track, completing a practice start at the exit of the pit-lane. Hamilton continuing to lap on the ultra softs, the Mercedes cars being the only team to enter the circuit with the ultra softs in the first practice. Hamilton goes on to complete ten laps in the session. In the final minutes of the session, Ericsson can be seen having a lock-up into turn ten, whilst Magnussen attempts to force his way past Perez on track to no avail.
Marcus Ericsson could be seen in a very unusual position, performing stretches on the floor of the garage. "The last time I saw Marcus Ericsson do that was after a long night at the end of the season" joked David Croft. Alonso could be seen in intense conversation with his race engineer, at the Ferrari garage, Vettel chatted with Maurizio Arrivabene. Hulkenberg observed the computer monitors. "Red Bull and Ferrari traditionally find more time on the ultra-softs than Mercedes" noted Mark Hughes.
The two Haas cars of Grosjean and Magnussen became the first cars to enter the circuit, both on super softs. After Grosjean's initial installation lap, David Croft noted "Grosjean's crusing lap turned into something more attacking". His initial time was 1:26.912, his teammate Magnussen had meanwhile set a 1:27.307. Aside from the Haas cars, also circulating the circuit were Stroll, Kvyat, Ocon and Ricciardo.
The Haas drivers continued to encounter handling issues, Grosjean having a big lock up into turn one, running wide and touching the gravel, however he continued on without issue. David Croft would note "you know in testing I said the Haas is locking up a lot, and this morning the Haas was locking up". "It can't be a comfortable car to drive" replied Paul di Resta. Both Grosjean and Magnussen continuing to lock-up their tires. Magnussen getting the order over the team radio, "slow down and box, slow down and box!".
Ted Kravitz outlining that Alonso's, Vettel's and Verstappen's Red Bull were still unassembled. There was concern of a mechanical problem with Verstappen's car. Ted Kravitz later confirming that continued problems for the McLaren would prevent running for Alonso until late in the session.
Whilst Alonso remained grounded in the garage, Vandoorne in the second McLaren became the next car to enter the track. Vandoorne having entered the circuit set the third fastest time, behind Grosjean and Kvyat. Kvyat could meanwhile be seen running wide into the approach to turn one.
Ricciardo set a time to go second fastest, before Massa would push him down to third with the new fastest time. Kvyat would improve his time to go second fastest. Perez meanwhile has a big moment in turn three, however continues without too much of a compromise.
Hamilton's entrance onto the circuit saw him immediately go quickest with a 1:25.283, bettering the ultra-soft time of Grosjean on softs. It immediately underlined the pace of the Mercedes cars, Bottas, also on track became the new time leader, setting a 1:25.149 on the ultra soft tires.
"Worst handling car, the McLaren, really looked like Vandoorne was fighting it. Lance Stroll pushing the car hard, pushing th a little bit loose on it, a little bit out of control compared to his teammate, correcting his steering wheel at the moment but certainly not shy on the brake pedal and carrying good speed," noted Martin Brundle, observing proceedings from turn two. "The Mercedes is a little bit calmer and just releases beautifully through the middle and accelerates through the exit in a very calm way."
Raikkonen demonstrating the first signs of speed from Ferrari, taking the fastest time, he was soon bettered by his teammate Vettel. Stroll complaining over the radio that he was being blocked by Raikkonen's Ferrari. Raikkonen exclaiming surprise by stating "Stroll wasn't going slowly?!". His engineer responding with, "sorry my mistake, Kimi". Later commenting "he was boxxing that lap, so I'm not sure what was going on".
Hulkenberg sets the eighth fastest time with soft tires, whilst Ericsson has also moved into the top ten. The Haas. The initial time leaders were Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Bottas, Sainz, Massa, Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Perez and Ericsson.
The red flag was then brought out when Palmer lost control of his Renault on the entry to the final corner. His car slammed into the barriers and rebounded back onto the track. Ted Kravitz noting "he looked dazed, confused and angry when he was discussing the accident with his data engineer, the first thing he did when he arrived in the garage was go straight to the computer". Kravitz further noting "he's smart enough to know that has compromised his entire race weekend".
The first cars back on track were Grosjean, Stroll and Verstappen. Verstappen's first lap time sees him go sixth fastest. Massa stopped his car at turn 10, complaining over that the radio that his car was "stuck in neutral". David Croft noting that "this will massively compromise anyone on a qualifying simulation." The Haas continued to look unstable, Grosjean locking up and running through the gravel in turn three.
Hamilton has a fast lap ruined by the yellow flags, his teammate, Bottas, however sets the fastest time with a 1:24.176 on the ultra soft compound tire. However, Hamilton, only on the super soft tire would impressively go even faster with a 1:23.620. Vettel meanwhile improved to second position on the super soft tire. "Someone in the crowd is smoking something very fragrant, from what I can tell" noted Martin Brundle from turn 11.
Alonso meanwhile had set his first lap time of the day, however it was only good enough for the sixteenth fastest time. Raikkonen looks unstable through the first two corners, however he would go on to set time good enough for fourth fastest on the ultra-softs.
The Red Bull's were also on track, Ricciardo moves into the fifth fastest position, whilst teammate Verstappen, runs wide at turn 12 and skirts over the gravel trap. He damaged the floor of his car and was forced to return to the pits for repairs. "Yep, went off there" Verstappen glumly noted over the team radio. He had left gravel littered over the track, Vandoorne's engineer could be heard telling his driver "there could be stones on track, stones on track!".
The driver's had now began their long-runs, Hamilton, the fastest car on track was now lapping at an expected race pace in the 1:27's. Meanwhile in the Mercedes pit garage, Managing Director of the Formula One Group, Ross Brawn, conversed with Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda.
At this stage, Hamilton led Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Sainz, Grosjean, Hulkenberg and Kvyat. Magnussen who had earlier been set-back by technical troubles had re-entered the circuit, however he dived back into the pits at the end of his out-lap. Raikkonen, operating on the ultra-soft's was running as the fastest car on the circuit, setting times in the 1:28's.
Kvyat is complains over the radio that his "front right tyre is looking quite ugly", however his team tell him to keep doing what he is doing. Verstappen meanwhile has changed out of his race overalls, his earlier damage to his car floor would keep him out of the remainder of the session.
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1:24.886||3||1:24.650||5||1:25.092||6|
|11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||1:26.276||10||1:25.591||11||1:26.457||13|
|26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:26.514||12||1:25.493||10||1:26.049||9|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Force India-Mercedes||1:27.656||16||1:26.145||13||1:27.103||16|
|33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||1:25.246||4||1:25.013||6||1:26.269||12|
|55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso||1:26.450||11||1:25.084||7||1:25.948||8|
"I wouldn't bet your house on Hamilton not being on pole, but the Ferrari's are looking quick indeed," noted Martin Brundle before.
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||3||1:24.482||6||1:24.092||5||1:23.485||5|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso||11||1:25.542||10||1:24.997||8||1:24.487||8|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||13||1:25.970||9||1:24.864||9||1:24.512||9|
|10||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||9||1:25.383||5||1:23.989||10||no time||15*|
|11||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||6||1:25.064||11||1:25.081||10|
|14||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India-Mercedes||14||1:26.009||14||1:25.568||13|
|107% time: 1:30.084|
- * Ricciardo and Stroll were given five-place grid penalties for unscheduled gearbox changes.
|______________||Carlos Sainz, Jr.|
- * Ricciardo and Stroll were given five-place grid penalties for unscheduled gearbox changes.
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||57||1h 24m 11.672s||2||25|
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||57||+28.827||5||10|
|7||11||Sergio Pérez||Force India-Mercedes||57||+1 Lap||10||6|
|8||55||Carlos Sainz, Jr.||Toro Rosso||57||+1 Lap||8||4|
|9||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||57||+1 Lap||9||2|
|10||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India-Mercedes||57||+1 Lap||13||1|
|11||27||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault||56||+1 Lap||11|
|12||36||Antonio Giovinazzi||Sauber-Ferrari||55||+2 Laps||16|
|13||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren-Honda||55||+2 Laps||18|
|Ret||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-TAG Heuer||25||Fuel pressure||15|
|Ret||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas-Ferrari||13||Water leak||6|
- * Ricciardo had to start from the pit lane after his car had a sensor issue on the way to the grid and was not ready in time for the formation lap.
- Lance Stroll and Antonio Giovinazzi's first race.
- Fernando Alonso's 275th race entry (274th start).
- Valtteri Bottas' first race for Mercedes, Esteban Ocon's first race for Force India, Nico Hülkenberg's first race for Renault, and Kevin Magnussen's first race for Haas.
- Esteban Ocon scores his first championship point.
- First time since the 1994 Australian Grand Prix that the reigning champion has not taken part.
Standings after race
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- Esler, William (20 March 2016). "2016 Australian GP: Nico Rosberg wins after Ferrari strategy error". skysports.com. http://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12515/10212726/aus-report. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Nico Rosberg retires: World champion quits Formula 1 five days after title win". British Broadcasting Corporation. 2 December 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/38185846. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
- "Felipe Massa to replace Valtteri Bottas for 2017 season". Williams Grand Prix Engineering. 16 January 2017. http://www.williamsf1.com/racing/news/felipe-massa-to-replace-valtteri-bottas-for-2017-season. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- "F1 Australian GP: Can Lance Stroll match these game changing F1 debuts?". 22 March 2017. http://www.crash.net/f1/feature/242960/1/can-lance-stroll-match-these-game-changing-debuts.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- Gibson, Sean (22 February 2017). "F1 2017: Race calendar and rule changes explained ahead of new season". The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/formula-1/2016/12/13/f1-2017-race-calendar-rule-changes-explained-ahead-new-season/. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Hamilton: Ferrari a lot quicker than they're showing". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 9 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2017/3/hamilton--ferrari-a-lot-quicker-than-theyre-showing.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Mercedes: Testing proves rivals have caught up". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 20 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2017/3/f1-2017-mercedes-rivals-have-caught-up.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Tyres Allocation for first 5 races". Formula1.com. Formula One Administration. 11 January 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2017/1/f1-pirelli-tyre-choices-bahrain-russia.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Red Bull 'content' with pre-season preparations - Horner". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 16 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/interviews/2017/3/f1-red-bull-content-2017-pre-season-horner.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Racing for now and the future - Carlos Sainz on 2017". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 15 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/interviews/2017/3/interview-carlos-sainz-future-f1-toro-rosso.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Renault: Engine fixes will be in place before Australia". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 9 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2017/3/f1-renault-engine-fixes-before-australia-2017.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Alonso expecting 'difficult' weekend for McLaren in Melbourne". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 21 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2017/3/alonso-expecting-difficult-weekend-for-mclaren-in-melbourne.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Points at every race - Esteban Ocon reveals his 2017 target". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 14 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/interviews/2017/3/points-at-every-race---esteban-ocon-on-his-2017-target.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Tech insight - Mercedes' and Toro Rosso's shared suspension trick". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 21 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/technical/2017/3/f1-tech-insight-mercedes-toro-rosso-suspension-trick.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "F1 rules: elimination qualifying confirmed for Australia, 2017 cars "five seconds faster"". James Allen on F1 (James Allen). 4 March 2017. http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2016/03/f1-rules-elimination-qualifying-confirmed-for-australia-2017-cars-5-secs-faster/. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "FIA requests upgrades to F1 circuits for 2017". speedcafe.com. 18 January 2017. http://www.speedcafe.com/2017/01/18/fia-requests-upgrades-f1-circuits-2017/. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- Howard, Tom (29 January 2017). "Albert Park prepares for circuit revisions". speedcafe.com. http://www.speedcafe.com/2017/01/29/albert-park-prepares-circuit-revisions/. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "Pascal Wehrlein not to start at the Australian Grand Prix". Sauber. 25 March 2017. http://www.sauberf1team.com/news/pascal-wehrlein-not-to-start-at-the-australian-grand-prix. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
- "2017 Australian Grand Prix – Practice 1 results". Formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 24 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2017/races/959/australia/practice-1.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "2017 Australian Grand Prix – Practice 2 results". Formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 24 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2017/races/959/australia/practice-2.html. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
- "2017 Australian Grand Prix – Practice 3 results". Formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 25 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2017/races/959/australia/practice-3.html. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
- "2017 Australian Grand Prix – Qualifying results". Formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 25 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2017/races/959/australia/qualifying.html. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
- Mitchell, Scott (26 March 2017). "Australian GP: Daniel Ricciardo grid penalty after gearbox change". Autosport.com. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/128654/ricciardo-grid-penalty-after-gearbox-change. Retrieved 27 March 2017.
- Noble, Jonathan (25 March 2017). "Stroll hit with gearbox change grid penalty into Australian GP". Autosport.com. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/128636/stroll-gets-grid-penalty-for-gearbox-change. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
- "Australia Grand Prix 2017 Race Results". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 26 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/2017/races/959/australia/race-result.html. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Race - Vettel stuns Mercedes with Melbourne win". formula1.com (Formula One Administration). 26 March 2017. https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/headlines/2017/3/race-vettel-stuns-mercedes-with-melbourne-win.html. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- Collantine, Keith (26 March 2017). "2017 Australian Grand Prix championship points". F1 Fanatic (Keith Collantine). http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2017/03/26/2017-australian-grand-prix-championship-points/. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
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